Imagine if you will that one day a foreign army invades your neighborhood, enforces a lockdown and then imposes a series of draconian new rules. It announces that the name by which you and your family have known the town for generations is now changed to a verison in their language. Any dissent will be met with arrest, torture or execution. One of the new policies requires you to celebrate the New Year, not on 31st December but the 15th February. On that day you will parade carrying the flag of the tyranny which now terrorizes your community.
Allow us to introduce you to a village (in the Tibetan region of Kongpo renamed by the Chinese regime as Nyingchi) that’s around 6 hours drive east of Lhasa. As you can see from the photo above, taken around February 12 the local Tibetans were lined-up to wave the Chinese flag as part of what was described in the propaganda website ‘China Tibet Online’ as a ‘Losar celebration in a Tibetan village’. For untold generations the Tibetans of Kongpo tradionally celebrated their New Year in November, why then are these villagers supposedly enjoying festivities in February? Either the authentic customs of the area have been eradicated, or these Tibetans have been forced into a propaganda photo-shoot to coincide with the date of the Chinese Spring Festival.
This is further evidence of Tibetan traditions being suppressed and replaced with events dictated by the Chinese authorities. What has been since ancient times a festival welcoming the New Year, honoring the spirits of land and water and dispelling negativity along with the old year, has been debased into a crass political stage-show.
There is no untainted cinematic insight into the suppression and abuses inside Tibet, no full exposure of the harrowing realities of forced sterilizations, the destruction of a nomadic culture through a policy of re-settlement, nor any detailed documentary recording the environmental pillage. Which is transforming once verdant pastures and forests into a lunar-like landscape, with convoys of trucks heading back to communist China with their booty of timber and minerals. The transformation of Tibetan towns into yet another Chinese concrete facsimile, complete with gaudy excess and a range of previously unknown erosive social problems, continues apace, un-documented.
No genuine independent film-making is of course possible under such a repressive totalitarian regime, one desperate to convince the world that Tibet is undergoing positive change, thanks, we are asked to accept, to the seemingly compassionate rule of communist China. Unfortunately we’re denied any unbiased evidence which would reveal the progress claimed by the communist regime.
What we do have are seemingly unlimited amounts of Chinese films on Tibet, mostly designed for television broadcast, with sickly images of Tibetans dancing and singing in praise of yet another bumper-harvest, due no doubt to China’s enlightened agricultural policies. These are transparent disinformation with actors supposedly dressed in traditional Tibetan costumes, color coded to match the red and yellow branding of the communist Chinese flag! Barely able to move due to the overly abundant costume jewellery and obligatory fixed smile, set against images of modernity Chinese-style, like a crude layer of make-up they conceal a more disturbing reality.
Over recent years however a subtler form of propaganda has emerged, more cinematic, carefully crafted to present some illusion of balance and independence, yet the underlying message remains the same, albeit diluted and sophisticated. A rising directorial star of this Chinese state approved cinematic style is Mr Pema Tseden, or as he is known by his friends within the Communist Party Of China, Wanma Caida. Being a loyal citizen of communist China he carries a Chinese name along with his Tibetan version.
Couple days back his film ‘Jinpa’ was awarded top prize at France’s Festival International des Cinémas d’Asiethe. Like his previous works this film is a slick production filmed inside Tibet. While aesthetically his films have charm and nuance they cynically misdirect the viewer away from the brutal realities of life for Tibetans under Chinese rule. The alluring personal narratives and stunning landscapes he plays around with are an approved sleight-of-hand which assiduously avoid the erosion and oppression of Tibetan culture.
It is a reality which the Director surely knows dare not speak its name, his films clearly meet the propaganda requirements imposed by the Chinese regime, in that context he is a willing and conscious collaborator. Perhaps that explains his insistence that: “…filmmakers are starting to more accurately capture the essence of life in Tibet. They are starting to let go of the old stereotypes.” SOURCE
Those who see his films at festivals or art-houses need to be mindful of this. Sure his work can be selectively interpreted as offering “.. an uncompromising view of difficulty in modern society. They’re not deliberately provocative, but they also don’t offer us comfortable resolutions.”. A view presented by one Robert Barnet of Columbia University, top grade for nuanced euphemism there!
However the ‘difficulties’ of forced-labor camps, torture, ethnic-‘cleansing’ and cultural erosion do not feature in the cinematic vision of Pema Tseden. While the ‘modern society’ (translating as occupied and oppressed Tibet and its culture) is never truly explored and it’s important to remind yourself that the work of Pema Tseden would not be made public without the authorization of the Chinese regime.
In consideration of that we need to question what is it about his films that receives such approval?
Have you seen it maybe, or read about the virtual invasion of college campuses across the USA and elsewhere by Chinese students?
Academic institutions seeking funding and research collaborations have been pro-active in partnering with China’s regime, many agreeing to the controversial Confucius Institutes, which are now exposed as a front for covert actions from the Chinese intelligence services.
As the saying goes, ‘If you open the window the flies will come in’ and while the majority of Chinese students are genuine seekers of higher-education there’s no doubt that among them are a number whose objectives range from espionage to furthering the political and ideological narrative of China’s regime.
Look at what’s going down in University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Student Union where a Tibetan was recently elected to position of President of the SCSU. Ms Chemi Lhamo having won the vote received more than congratulation, in a short time Chinese students were voicing their opposition and demanding a fresh election.
We hear a lot across mainstream media about the radicalization of Muslims, yet virtually no exposure is given to the institutional indoctrination of an entire generation of Chinese youth. Who have been radicalized by China’s regime, programed through social and educational strategies to become fervent supporters of a totalitarian ideology that encourages nationalism and blind obedience to the dictate of the state. Such is the mindset which has been let loose across campuses!
Imagine for a moment you’ve been transported back to 1944 and you spot a headline in the newspaper that reads ‘Gypsies give support to relocation plan’. On further reading you notice a quote from a Nationalist Socialist Party official stating that: ‘The policy is entirely voluntary and no force is used in relocating Gypsies to the constructed settlements’. No doubt you would be feeling a real dissonance at that point. After all it’s been established those deemed by the Nazi State as ‘undesirable’ have been forced from their homes at the point of a gun. Failure to comply means torture, forced-labor or being shot!
Back in 2019 and the headline “Tibet nomads give support to relocation plan'” published January 22 by the China Daily, propaganda mouthpiece of the Chinese regime. Under the patently false claims of respecting the Tibetan environment (“We would rather slow down or give up our economic development than harm nature. This is important to ensure that future generations can also see the green mountains and pure rivers”. Mr Zhang Jianhua Chinese colonial official”) the ‘transfer’ of Tibetan nomads is justified as part of a process of environmental protection.
Let’s have a reality breakdown on this engineered deception. Firstly, the Chinese authorities claiming to protect Tibet’s environment is like a serial sex offender insisting he fully respects women’s rights! Folk across the digital world know too well that the rivers, mountains and grasslands of occupied Tibet are being polluted and seriously damaged by Chinese mining corporations, approved by China’s government. Removing Tibetans from resource rich lands is a key aspect of a greed-driven agenda’.
Lastly it’s important to be aware that the Chinese tyranny employs a wide range of euphemisms to conceal the dark reality of its illegal occupation and exploitation of Tibet. Take the innocuous sounding ‘relocation’, could be describing a wished for movement to another place, right? Look a little closer and the phrase is nothing more than code for the forced removal of Tibetans into concentration settlements. As we reported previously one of the key aims of China’s regime is to eradicate Tibetan national and cultural identity, the two central pillars of that character is Tibet’s nomadic traditions and its Buddhist and native religions. By a program of of ‘ethnic-cleansing’ Tibetans are denied their self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle as nomads, bused into ‘socialist paradise villages’ to become dependent and compliant. Such is the harrowing truth behind China’s cynical use of the inoffensive term ‘relocation’!
After the Chinese regime recently allowed in a select group of media to visit East Turkistan (so-called Xinjiang) the chosen reporters issued a glowing account of how wonderful the treatment of the Uyghur people was by China’s authorities.
The laughingly named ‘Silk Road Celebrity China Tour’ took place from January 9 to 16 and the compliant ‘journalists’ dutifuly regurgitated the propaganda narrative after being escorted around a number of locations.
One among that party surely merits this year’s award for nausea. Erdal Kurucay, a presenter from Turkey’s ATV station,who a number of Chinese media mouthpieces claimed rejected international concerns on the violent oppression of Uyghurs and their culture as little more than “terrorist propaganda” and “misinformation” propagated by “global capitalist and imperialist forces.”. A script drafted and approved in Beijing’s Department of Disinformation!
We’ve a feeling that this pro-Turkish government reporter was fulfilling a foreign policy agenda of his beloved authorities, which has been issuing a number of appeasing statements on China, in the hope of securing trade deals.
He concluded by claiming that he had visited a ‘reducation center during the trip and insisted it been a “therapy centre” for criminals! Source: Ibid
Now there’s nothing new here, mainstream media and governments around the planet have been sucking up to the Chinese government, but to see Turkey effectively endorse the violent suppression of its Turkic brothers and sisters is particularly distasteful.
As to journalists and media outlets who serve as a conduit for the propaganda of China’s regime they are justly condemned as facilitating, through their active collaboration, the terrorism waged against those suffering under the tyranny of China’s dictatorship.
A question. Why is Mr Kalden Lodoe, Tibetan Director of Radio Free Asia (Tibetan Service) approving from his colleagues output such as this?
“And in March 2008, a riot in Lhasa followed the suppression by Chinese police of four days of peaceful Tibetan protests and led to the destruction of Han Chinese shops in the city and deadly attacks on Han Chinese residents. The riot then sparked a wave of mostly peaceful protests against Chinese rule that spread across Tibet and into Tibetan-populated regions of western Chinese provinces.” (emphasis added) Source: RFA-Tibetan Pilgrim Sees Restrictions, Heavy Police Presence in Lhasa 2018-08-31
You would be forgiven on reading the quote above to wonder if it had been written by an official within China’s Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, or its propaganda channel, Xinhua news. Why do we say this?
The syntax used has a striking similarity with terminology used by official Chinese sources. The description as ‘a riot’ of the Tibetan response to a brutal oppression in Lhasa during 2008 is precisely the narrative used by China’s regime at that time. Seeking to denigrate and misrepresent Tibetans as rioters, engaged in criminal behavior, while conveninently ignoring the legitimate protests against China’s illegal and vicious rule. The reference to ‘deadly attacks on Han Chinese residents‘ is also borrowed from China’s disinformation on those demonstrations.
The closing sentence concludes by endorsing the fact-free claims of China’s regime regarding Tibetan territory by repeating their propaganda: ‘…that spread across Tibet and into Tibetan-populated regions of western Chinese provinces.’ The so-called western Chinese provinces referred to in reality are the traditional Tibetan regions of Amdo and Kham.
So if Chinese propagandists did not write such baseless drivel who did? Well the people responsible are employed by Radio Free Asia (Tibetan Service) in Washington DC. A body influenced and controlled by the State Department, via the US Agency For Global Media. There is also, so some have discussed, a pro-China sway within the organization, ultimately though the English version of such reports is down to a Richard Finney. An individual who consistently features such misleading and toxic propaganda into reports on Tibet, betcha his State Department controllers must be very pleased with his contributions. After all they have for decades appeased China’s bogus claim over Tibet!
Let’s put it out there from the get go, non weird science can be amazing too, right? Perhaps it’s greatest strength is the core principal of asking questions, and not just any old inquiry but carefully selected and following empirical protocols. The results are then subject to peer review and eventually, if not countered as lacking evidence or repeatable proof, declared as scientific fact. Awesome hey? Sure, but before we hit the sidewalk in celebration we need to ask does science get it wrong? Totally! Another question which needs to be considered is, does science get manipulated and exploited for reasons of commerce and politics? You betcha! From the dangers of smoking, GMO and pharmaceuticals to water pollution and events like Fukushima scientists have been co-opted (some willingly) to push ‘facts’ that suit the interests of corporations and also government. The person in the lab-coat is thought to be authoritative, objective and lacking in bias, right? What more convincingly neutral messenger if you wanted to influence public opinion, after all they’re dedicated to fact and impartiality. You can trust them, can’t you?
Which brings us to China and its regime, long known for propaganda, censorship and ruthless totalitarian control, exerted over every facet of Chinese society, including academic institutions and media. Both areas are entirely politicized and subject to the ideological dictates of China’s communist party (CCP) under the control of President Xi Jinping. Nobody better represents this dismal state of affairs than Professor Huang Jiefu, a member of the CCP and Chinese government with disturbing links to the forcible removal of human organs from political prisoners inside China. Yet the same individual has the role of professional liar, touring the international circuit of surgeons’ conferences to deny and deceive, an enthusiastic propagandist! We’re not claiming that every academic declaration from China is to be dismissed, but those related to politically sensitive issues should be scrutinized with a particularly critical lens, especially when linked with Tibet!
On July 18 2018 we noted the publication of the following paper: ‘Traditional Tibetan Medicine Induced High Methylmercury Exposure Level and Environmental Mercury Burden in Tibet, China (sic)’ It was copyrighted to the American Chemical SocietySOURCE and authored in the majority by Chinese writers from Chinese government controlled academic institutions. It claimed the inclusion of mercury in Tibetan medicines, which the authors reportedly measured “in the municipal sewage in Tibet”. Not exactly a positive news story on Tibetan culture is it? What impression does it give? Does it cast Tibetans into a negative light? But they are questions of a political shade. Let’s get back to the science for now.
Now we imagine that the loyal academics of; China’s Ministry of Education Laboratory of Earth Surface Process (Beijing University), Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, (Beijing) and Chinese Academy of Sciences East China Normal University, (Shanghai) when formulating their central thesis statement followed standard scientific procedure and allowed for critical examination of any and all factors that could impact findings and tests?
We raise this important question because what’s been published gives an impression of a paper which had the objective of fitting the ‘facts’ to a predetermined conclusion. That of course would be bias. Surely those eager academics are dedicated to impartial research only, right? Well if so we would expect them to examine a range of factors that could result in significant levels of mercury in Tibetan sewage, and moreover to include results and measurements on other possible contributory sources in their paper. Unless of course what we have here is a politicized study which has propaganda aims? Dang there goes the political reflex again! Now where did we get too? Ah right! The science part.
An obvious start point would be for them to ask, is their geographic sample sufficiently diverse and of a range to be regarded as an accurate representation?
Did they consider other sources of mercury which could explain the supposed presence in those sewage samples taken?
What measures did they employ to identify what percentage of mercury in the sewage could be shown to be derived from traditional Tibetan medicine, as opposed to pollution incidents and or industrial wastage/use?
Were those who supplied the Tibetan medicine samples unknowing of the claimed mercury content, or complicit in adulterating such treatments?
In declaring Tibetan medicine to contain mercury did their paper examine the sources of constituent herbs, to establish if such plants were on contaminated soils or exposed to wind borne pollution?
Did the authors sufficiently examine the role of gold mining and its use of mercury which escapes into the surrounding environment, including the hydrosphere?
Were measurements taken in those limited sites where sewage was examined, to test water quality and presence of metals such as mercury?
Did they properly assess the possibility of mercury contamination from gold mining and the fact that mercury can contaminate the atmosphere and water at a very long distance?
It’s our view that such questions would be fundamental to any proper scientific examination of a thesis which was to conclude the production of Tibetan medicine as the causal factor of mercury within sewage. We invite the paper’s authors and its copyright holders American Chemical Society to furnish evidence that these possible other factors were included in the research, otherwise people may well speculate if the paper can considered a serious academic work.
While we await a response on that, back to our favorite subject, politics! Yay! So what to say about all this, well had Sherlock Holmes been investigating no doubt he would have remarked:
“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.’ (Conan Doyle, A Scandal in Bohemia)
Are we witnessing such a manipulation with this paper? Does the Chinese regime control academic bodies and use them as a conduit for its disinformation? What’s known for sure is that the once pristine land of Tibet has, since China invaded in 1950, been ruthlessly exploited for its minerals, water, gas and forests. The environmental impact has been devastating, rivers and lakes polluted, the atmosphere and soils contaminated by mining for gold, other metal ores and asbestos. Taking all this into account it’s reasonable to consider that mercury contamination in occupied Tibet is significant and probably widespread, with frequency variation.
To blame this upon Tibetan medicine is a cynical duplicity and calculating falsehood, sure metals such as gold or silver may traditionally be included. Who knows mercury may have been, or some unscrupulous or ignorant supplier may add it. It’s not exactly an empirically derived conclusion. When compared to the magnitude and nature of China’s rampant mining of Tibetan lands, with its resultant pollution and industrial scale use of mercury, Tibetan medicine cannot justifiably be cited as the source of such contamination. It is founded upon principles that are in harmony with the land and respect the environment.
Back-in-the-day reports emerged of deforestation in eastern Tibet, a handful of publications associated such destruction with the lifestyle of Tibetans living in those areas. Such journalists, and environmentalists chose to ignore Chinese state supported lumber corporations who were transforming the once verdant forest of Tibet into a lunar landscape. They turned a blind-eye to the never ending convoys of trucks shipping timber back to China. They chose to cast a judgmental eye on Tibetans, now why would they do that? Perhaps, as in the case of this latest questionable ‘research paper’, the answer may be found in China’s Ministry of Disinformation!