Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give me a T, give me an I, give me a B, give me an E, give me a T!

Ok, my first venture into the darkest realms of the human topic of politics. I spotted this article on the BBC today, and the current status of that ever-dragging soap opera that is Tibet. (Maybe in many years from now when we get some proper historical perspective some future budding Rodgers and Hammestein could do a musical based on these goings-on and call it "Tibet!". If you can do a Julie Andrews vehicle based on the Anschluss of Austria then why not Michael Crawford as the Daila Lama as he prances around the himalayas declaring his simple love of yaks' milk in song. But I digress a teensy weensy bit)

This is the article, and the paragraph that actually caught my attention was:

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959, after Chinese troops had crushed an uprising by pro-independence Tibetans. Beijing says Tibet has been part of the Chinese nation since the 13th Century. Many Tibetans disagree, pointing out that the Himalayan region was an independent kingdom for many centuries, and that Chinese rule over Tibet has not been constant.

Now I actually applaud the BBC for starting to show signs of neutrality over the issue. A few years ago I would not have been surprised to see maybe only the first sentence being published. In other words the implication would have been was that Tibet was a happy, peaceful, independent and lover-ly place until the Chinese People's Liberation Army came in and annexed the region for no apparent reason other than maybe greed. The same kind of thing as Poland 1939 maybe. Now, I am no apologist for the People's Republic of China, but I do think the Western Media have been guilty of neatly packaging many of China's problems into easy-to-digest bite-sized morsels that somehow fail to provide any proper perspective and therefore nudges the reader towards one particular point of view.

In this article note how China "claims" something, whilst the Tibetans "point out" something else. Dipping into my Chinese history books written by westerners for the consumption of westerners it seems that Tibet was a part of Qing dynasty China before the whole nation splintered into independent, locally ruled provinces (including one called Tibet). It wasn't until the Chinese Liberation Army forcefully swept around the whole previous Qing-ruled territories (including Tibet) that China became united again. The violent cycle of unity and fragmenation is a sadly reoccuring theme in Chinese history.

I don't claim to be an expert in the Tibetan matter, or to have a solid opinion about Tibet, but I think many Western media should do more to provide the full facts on the issue and not just the bits that sound most juicy and riveting. The lesson for the today is that no media is free from bias intended or otherwise, here endeth the lesson.

1 comment:

Madam Miaow said...

Indeed! I've written on this subject at my blog as I'm fed up with the disinformation that goes unchallenged. We all know that China suppresses the media but at least they don't pretend to do otherwise, unlike in the West.

Let's have a level playing field with all the information available and let the battle of ideas commence.