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From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the mounting mutual paranoia and xenophobia between China and the West is of great interest because that's exactly the kind of thing that leads to genocidal Crisis wars.
In this article, we're going to try to present how China and the West see events unfolding from their respective points of view, and how those differing viewpoints put us on the road to war.
The tone in the last few days was set by a story in London's Daily Mail condemning an army of Chinese "thugs" that accompanied the Olympic torch in London, and an article in the German magazine Der Spiegel, with the headline, "There's no way people like that should be allowed on our streets."
The "thugs" are the Chinese torch guards, wearing blue track suits. Their job is to make sure that the torch carrier and the torch itself are protected. The Chinese torch guards did nothing that the British and French torch guards would not have done, and did do, given the hostile anti-China crowd.
The Chinese are furious about this kind of thing. The Olympic torch events follow several weeks of harsh Western news coverage about the events in Tibet.
As we'll see, the anger extends to paranoia, as many Chinese are claiming that the Western media is purposely lying about the Chinese to humiliate them as the summer Beijing Olympics games approach.
Jin Jing is a beautiful 27 year old girl from Shanghai who is confined to a wheelchair. As a girl, she loved to sing and dance, and also loved fencing because she used to watch the adventures of Zorro. When she was nine, her leg was amputated because of a malignant tumor. After Beijing won the 2008 Olympics, Jin Jing was chosen for the national wheelchair fencing team. Later, she was selected to be an Olympic torch bearer.
This is a real Chinese tear-jerker, comparable to any American soap opera, except that it's a true story. Millions of Chinese are in love with Jin Jing.
So it's not hard to understand how upset and angry the Chinese people are that a Tibetan separatist attempted to wrest the Olympic torch from Jin Jing as she was carrying it in Paris on April 7, as shown in the adjoining photos, appearing in China Daily. (The intruder was subdued by French police because the French had refused to allow the Chinese security guards to do it, after the negative publicity in London.)
Once again, this extends anger to paranoia, as many Chinese believe that the disruptions were planned by Western officials or, at the very least, that they were purposely provoked by the Western media.
In preparing this article, I looked back at my previous articles on the Tibet crisis to see whether I personally blamed it on the Tibetans or the Chinese officials. In my March 16 article, I wrote, "Tibetans threw stones and set fires, particularly targeting Chinese businesses and properties. ... Chinese troops responded, and dozens of Tibetans were killed."
In my March 18 article, I wrote that "Tibetans in Lhasa have targeted Chinese businesses and committed abominations on Chinese people."
I was following the mainstream media reporting of the situation in Lhasa. The change in emphasis in my article corresponds to the change in the reporting by the mainstream media, which was strongly pro-Tibetan at first, but later presented the pro-Chinese side of the story.
The fact that the Western media automatically took the side of the Tibetans infuriates the Chinese, leading them to claim that the Western press is PURPOSELY turning people against China.
Take a few minutes and watch the following video entitled, "Riot in Tibet: True face of western media":
The final words (beneath Chinese flag) are: "These western media should be shamed for the fake reportings they've made purposely, and whoever in the world, intending to slander Chinese people, to provoke terrority integrity of China, will be doomed to failure."
In the three weeks that it's been posted, it's had 1.2 million viewings, and there are more than 32,000 comments.
The examples in this video were collected in just three or four days. Many Chinese are aware of these examples, and agree that the West is purposely stirring up hatred against China.
One blog entry, written by a 20 year old Chinese, talks about his encounter with a female German co-worker named "K". K appears to be an out-and-out anti-Chinese bigot, and the blog entry quotes one outrageous statement by K after another.
You ought to read the entire blog entry, but I'd like to quote the last few paragraphs:
... The last few days made me keenly aware of the following things:
1. The propaganda in the western media has achieved their goals -- the German people believe. Not only do they believe, but they believe it firmly to the point whether all dissident voices are regarded as lies.
2. The marketing effort by the Dalai Lama over the years has been successful beyond expectations. Every German that I come across treats him as a "great spiritual leader." Everything that he says is true and everything that he does is correct.
3. Chinese students in Germany are unpopular. My colleagues indirectly reveal those feelings. They even tell me directly: "We are really worried about what happens if one day you learn what we know."
4. It is a mistake for China to even exist. The faults of China can be stacked from the ground to the heavens. Furthermore, under the leadership of this demon government, things are getting worse and worse.
5. Bloodshed and massacres occur everywhere in China. When a Chinese citizen says the wrong thing, he will be arrested immediately and subjected to extreme torture in jail.
6. China does not have the right to host the Olympics. Anyone who attends the Olympics is supportive of genocide to a certain extent.
I am actually very, very tired. But I feel that I am actually getting something out of this. That is, I will never discuss Tibet or China with any German. Their brains have been baptised by a lifetime of western voices and are no longer capable of being receptive. Please do not try to convince them or discuss the facts with them, because you are going to die from frustration.
Their mindset is this brute-force logic: Anything good about China must have been fabricated by the Chinese government; visual images favorable to China were staged by the Chinese government; any photo favorable to China was the result of PhotoShop work.
Their mindset contains an absolute position: China is hopeless with no redeemable value. All the opposing voices against China are right, and they will support those voices.
The arrogance of the Germans astonished me time and again. I am only twenty years old and I can see the shadow of the German people from sixty years ago. They are the descendants of the Nazis. Nazi blood will flow through their bodies forever. What they regard as their correct insistence looks rigid to others, even very terrifying.
So I feel that it is a long and endless struggle with them. This struggle cannot be resolved through any debate or discussion of facts. This can only be done through the construction of the motherland. When the motherland is strong, even stronger, they will shut their mouths! Each one of us Chinese overseas students is working hard and enduring the suffering. Several decades into the future, will China collapse like the Germans hope? Or will China be so strong that they will collapse?"
Note that this blog entry ends by saying that the Germans are still Nazis, and implies that China will win a future war against Germany.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the Dalai Lama is exactly playing his correct generational role. As a survivor of the last Crisis war (the Tibetan revolution of the 1950s), the Dalai Lama has been playing a conciliatory role, advising his followers to eschew violence and the Chinese officials to negotiate. He also supports the Olympics being held in China. It's the younger generations, the people born after the Crisis war, who have no fear of violent confrontations.
On March 28, the Dalai Lama issued the following appeal to Chinese officials. The following is a portion:
Chinese brothers and sisters, I assure you I have no desire to seek Tibet’s separation. Nor do I have any wish to drive a wedge between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. On the contrary my commitment has always been to find a genuine solution to the problem of Tibet that ensures the long-term interests of both Chinese and Tibetans. My primary concern, as I have repeated time and again, is to ensure the survival of the Tibetan people’s distinctive culture, language and identity. As a simple monk who strives to live his daily life according to Buddhist precepts, I assure you of the sincerity of my personal motivation."
The above appeal is intended to be very conciliatory, and yet Chinese officials have been portraying the Dalai Lama in very negative terms.
According to a blog entry analyzing the Dalai Lama's appeal, the wording of the above appeal is infuriating to Chinese officials:
I was thinking about that as I was reading the Dalai Lama’s statement. I’m sure he meant well, but he actually said all of the wrong things, and to someone within the Chinese government, this letter seems to confirm all of their paranoid suspicions about the Dalai Lama. ...
The view of most people in China is that there is one Chinese “tribe” (zhonghua minzu), and that Tibetans and Han Chinese are member ethnicities of that tribe. The second you talk about “Tibetan and Chinese peoples” most people in China will think “yes the government is right, the Dalai Lama is a splitist. It’s basically like saying “the Navaho and American people” or worse yet saying “I want a dialogue between Blacks and Americans”
Now obviously, I don’t expect Tibetan nationalists to accept this view of things, but if you are trying to make an “appeal” then its a bad idea to offend people in paragraph one. The reaction of most Chinese reading this would be “yep, the government is right all along about the Dalai Lama.” ...
Also, once you argue that “Tibetans” and “Chinese” are separate “peoples” then the “right of self-determination” takes over, and it is hard to argue that Tibet shouldn’t be independent.
Wow. I’m four sentences into this statement, and he has already offended the people he is trouble to appeal to twice, and already confirmed himself as an “evil splitist.” The statement should have read: "I am deeply saddened by the loss of life in the recent tragic events in Tibet."
As this blogger states, one person's conciliatory words can be threatening to someone else. In this case, the mere use of the words "Tibetans" and "Chinese" are threatening, because they imply that Tibetans are not Chinese.
Now, I use "Tibetans" and "Chinese" all the time. So does the BBC, CNN, and almost all of the media. Maybe I should be very precise and say "Tibetan Chinese" and "Han Chinese," and maybe the rest of the media should be equally precise.
I like to use the phrase "looking for reasons" to describe situations like this. When you have a decision to make, and you want emotionally to make that decision a certain way, then you can "look for reasons" why that's the right decision. That way, you can say that you made a decision based on reason, rather than on emotion.
This is in that category. Everybody knows what you mean when you distinguish between "Chinese" and "Tibetans," but only somebody "looking for reasons" to criticize you would say that it proves that you're supporting Tibet's independence. But this is what happens to a country when the people become anxious and paranoid.
However, it may be that the Dalai Lama has taken this criticism to heart. On Friday, he made the following forceful public statement, broadcast by the BBC: "Tibet should have full authority regarding the preservation of Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan culture, and education and environment -- all these things. Han Chinese have no idea about Tibetan culture."
The above is not something that Chinese officials would ever agree to, but at least the Dalai Lama used the phrase "Han Chinese."
The level of hostility between the West and China seems to be growing day by day, ever since the Tibet demonstrations began in mid-March.
Examining an entry in another blog, the writer tries to "unravel the conspiracy" that's leading to heightened mutual anger between Chinese and Westerners:
There are such strong emotions on all sides, but I can't help but feel everyone is aiming their grievances in the wrong directions. Chinese people, largely, feel like foreign powers are ganging up on them, once again, to keep them from succeeding. They feel like foreigners are trying to muddy China's image and embarass them in their big moment. Because of this, chanting things like "Shame on China", which occurred in London, is counterproductive and naturally leads Chinese people to become defensive. The more protests and pressure put on China, the more the Chinese people rally around to defend themselves. The more people criticize China, the more China gets its back up, and the more rigid it becomes.
This is a spiralling situation. Protests occur to force China to improve its human rights, but China becomes even more firmly entrenched. Protesters grow weary that they have little effect, and become more violent and vigilant. China becomes even more firmly entrenched. This powder keg will continue until it blows at some point, and probably sometime between August 8th and 24th."
I think that this writer describes the situation very well. He says that it's a spiralling situation, and that it's going to continue to get worse. It's hard to disagree.
Most people, in both China and the West, are hoping that the protests will settle down, and the Olympics games will be "normal" and successful. However, that's not a reasonable hope. There are many anti-Chinese protest groups, and they're going to make themselves heard.
Nobody has more protest groups than America. There may be thousands or even millions of anti-American protest groups, for all I know. But America is used to them, and knows how to absorb them and handle them.
But this is all completely new to China. China is exposed because the Olympics games are so important to them, and they have no idea at all how to handle protests, and so they're mishandling them.
As this writer says, this situation is bound to get worse. He refers to a "powder keg" that will blow at some point during the Olympics. Whether that explosion is a minor event or a major international crisis doesn't depend on the explosion itself; it depends entirely on how the Chinese officials (over-)react to it. Given their paranoia and their inexperience in handling public protests, it stands to reason that we're headed for a major international crisis.
As I indicated earlier, the mainstream media initially reported the Tibet demonstrations as violence by Chinese against innocent Tibetans.
Within a day or two, the mainstream media coverage was talking about violence and atrocities committed by Tibetans, especially involving businesses in Lhasa owned by Han Chinese.
There's every reason to expect that news coverage would have become much more balanced, as the days and weeks went by.
Unfortunately, that opportunity did not present itself. Chinese officials clamped down on news coverage and ejected reporters. In fact they not only ejected BBC, CNN and other Western media organizations, they also ejected Chinese media reporters.
The result was that the Western media assumed that China was hiding brutal violence by the Chinese. It's a natural assumption, given the way of recent violent government actions in Burma (Myanmar) and Kenya, where the press was also ejected.
Another blog entry from China tells the story of what happens when the editor of a Chinese newspaper challenges government press restrictions.
Chang Ping is editor of the Southern Metropolis Daily in China, and he wrote an editorial ending with this paragraph:
This is powerful stuff coming from a Chinese editor. Chinese blogs lit up with accusations that Chang Ping was a Chinese traitor and the Southern Metropolis Daily is the Chinese edition of CNN. (Fortunately, Americans are not yet as xenophobic about the Chinese, or someone might call me a "traitor" for writing this article. That's the kind of thing that happens when xenophobia increases.)
This shows how different the Chinese and Western points of view are, and how easily the Chinese are willing to sacrifice freedom of the press. And I want to emphasize that I'm not just talking about Chinese government officials; it seems apparent that these feelings are widespread among the Chinese people, even to the extent of calling someone who challenges questions the government a "traitor."
This is an issue that cannot end anywhere but very badly.
In 2001, when Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympic games, it was based partially on the promise that China would permit full freedom of the press. China is reneging on that promise, and they're going to be very heavily criticized for this throughout the next months.
The next major test is coming soon. What will happen when the Olympic torch passes through Tibet on its route to Beijing? We'll have to wait and see.
The Chinese have been planning for the Olympics opening ceremony on August 8 for years. Last August, they actually put on a spectacular 2008 Olympics opening ceremony rehearsal, a year in advance.
Now, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have announced that they will not attend the opening ceremony, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is considering the same. On Friday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also announced that he would not attend.
These boycotts reflect increasing Western anger at China, and are drawing angry responses from Chinese officials.
President George Bush is being pressured by Hillary Clinton and other members of Congress to boycott the opening ceremony as well. Such a move would not have any effect on China's behavior except to raise the Chinese people's hatred of America to even higher levels. President Bush is firmly rejecting this pressure, correctly in my view.
The Olympics opening ceremony was supposed to be the greatest show on earth, allowing China to take its place as a respected great world power.
Instead, the main news is going to be the boycotts. These boycotts will not change China's behavior towards Darfur or Tibet, but it will increasingly convince the Chinese that the West is conspiring to humiliate China and keep China down.
As I've written many times on this web site, we're seeing xenophobia grow around the world in the countries that fought in WW II as a crisis war. In America it's directed at the Latinos and Chinese, in China it's directed at the West and Japan, in Arab countries it's directed at Israel and the West, and in Europe it's directed at Muslims and the Chinese.
This is a direct result of the disappearance of the World War II survivors. The survivors of WW II devoted their lives to making sure that nothing so horrible would ever happen again. They recognized that growth in paranoia, xenophobia and nationalism is what led to WW II, and these people did everything they could to fight against a recurrence of that growth. But those survivors are gone now, and all the old nationalistic tendencies are returning.
Above in this article, I've emphasized the events that are causing Chinese xenophobia towards the West to increase.
Let me summarize the reasons why American xenophobia toward China is increasing:
The world financial crisis is a particularly important catalyst in Chinese - American relations. The Chinese have purchased almost $1 trillion of American debt, for which they feel that the Americans are not sufficiently grateful. Americans, on the other hand, are more likely to hate the Chinese for this, just as the Germans hated the Americans for similar reasons in 1931, as described in "The bubble that broke the world."
I want to emphasize again the enormous importance of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. There is no single event in the last 50 years that has more greatly affected China's relations with the West. The massacre launched the Falun Gong, it launched the independence movement in Taiwan, and it set the pattern for secrecy and press clampdowns. (CNN had been broadcasting the student demonstrations live. When China shut down CNN's satellite transmissions, it caused worldwide fears of a harsh, violent crackdown, and that's in fact what occurred.)
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these xenophobic reactions always occur during generational Crisis eras, and are major factors leading to Crisis wars, but there's no way to predict in advance how they will develop, until a clear trend has been established.
Consider the following examples:
The pattern seems to be this: Once a Crisis war ends, the slate of hatreds is wiped clean, and the only objective of all the belligerents is to prevent anything like that war from happening again. As decades go by, and generations change, new patterns of hatred grow, and these new hatreds may or may not make sense in relation to the pre-war hatreds. New hatreds just grow as the result of trivial events that soon feed on themselves and turn into harsh, lasting memories. In other cases, similar trivial events are quickly forgotten, and former foes become friends.
In the case of America and China, the pattern has already been well-established for decades, and changing it now is impossible. Both Chinese people and American people are "looking for reasons" to hate one another, and they have no difficulty finding them.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a war with China is coming with absolute certainty, and probably sooner rather than later. It will be a major component of the coming "clash of civilizations" world war.
An article in Der Spiegel online had the following neat map of the Olympic torch route. We'll end with that.