Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Other Side of the China Story

We were startled to recognize a person we know in a photo of the protestors in this week's anti-CNN demonstration in downtown Chicago. You might have missed the news. There has been no national news coverage of it.

News of public protests in foreign climes has been there for the reading, albeit abbreviated. Most readers probably know there have been public demonstrations in Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Jinan, among many others. And there has been some slight media coverage in the West about calls by millions of Chinese to boycott certain French businesses.

But almost no U.S. media outlet is reporting that all across the United States tens of thousands of Chinese-Americans took to American streets last week to express outrage at our own media's news coverage of the tensions over Chinese rule in Tibet. What coverage there has been is largely local, which is how we happened to learn of it.

The Chicago man we recognized is a very nice, very smart older businessman who emigrated to the U.S. almost four decades ago. He owns a successful retail shop near the loop. He, his wife, and children are as American as... well, as Jack Cafferty, you might say.

We know the fellow in the photo to be mild-mannered, progressive, and exceptionally even-tempered. But he and his friends are really hot about what they see as a virulent anti-Chinese bias in the U.S. media.

As it happens, we had a chance to speak with him later the same day. We asked him, Why the protest? He answered, "It's not about opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It's about getting the facts wrong."

Referring to recent news reports of violence in Tibet, he told us of one shooting that the U.S. media attributed to Chinese soldiers when in fact, so he says, Nepalese gunmen were behind it.

How he knows this we can't say. But there certainly is substance to complaints about American media bias which echoed throughout the Chicago loop and in other U.S. cities over the past week.
As for the larger issue of China-Tibet relations, a number of Chinese-American friends have told us there is another side to the story that U.S. media never mentions. In their view, a large part of the problem is that as long as Tibet was ruled by the Dali Lama the Tibetan people were hopelessly mired in grinding poverty.

"They were living in the Dark Age," one man told us. "No clean water, no sewers, no medicine, no roads, no schools for the children, no economy. All the time the [Buddhist] temples grew richer and richer."

Certainly, it's true that Chinese government censorship in Tibet contributes in a large way to alienating the world's press and thus undermining any effort we might want to make to become better informed about the issue. Speaking for ourself, we simply don't know enough about the history of Tibet, or China for that matter, to have an informed opinion.

Except for this: If there is another side to the story, a Chinese side that's being voiced right here in the streets of the Land of the Free, or in obscure college newspaper columns, why aren't we hearing about it in the "fair and balanced" U.S. media?

1 comment:

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

I think the new Cold war is or will be with china