Archive | August 5, 2009

Chinese Propaganda Machinery and the Dalai Lama

These are my thoughts for today as I monitor the media reports coming out from China as well as from the rest of the world on Tibet.

The Chinese authorities, or at least those who have a vested interest in leaving the Tibetan issue unresolved, seem to be desperate to paint an image of declining  international interest in His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibet. One can see this in constant churning of misinformation coming out of China trying to give a distorted picture. The fact that this version of the situation comes out only through the official Chinese media while the free press comes out with a different version is being missed by the Chinese officials.

More interestingly, such disinformation from Beijing are sometimes in the form of “news” and at others in the form of “article” in the name of some non-existing person called “Yedor.” While on “Yedor,” did the Chinese propaganda people not know that in Tibetan it means “casting away the mind”, which is indeed an apt definition of the content of the writings under this name?

The latest such propaganda items are devoted to the ongoing visit of H.H. the Dalai Lama to Germany and Switzerland. While representatives of the free media that have gathered in Switzerland have been reporting from the field about “Sellout crowds of 12,000 for two days of conferences offered by the Dalai Lama” (just do an internet search) or that “The Dalai Lama enjoys moral authority in much of the world (AP from Lausanne, Switzerland, August 5, 2009),” People’s Daily can only moan from faraway Beijing (dateline) that “Dalai Lama gets cold reception in Germany, Switzerland.”

Partial view of the crowd gathered to listen to the Dalai Lama, who is seen prostrating. Photo: www.tibet.net

Partial view of the crowd gathered to listen to the Dalai Lama, who is seen prostrating. Photo: http://www.tibet.net

Of course, if the Chinese media is hinting at the hesitation of the politicians to interact with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I am afraid the “cold reception” is one that is being forced upon these leaders than one that has been genuinely evolved. For example, in the case of Switzerland, the Chinese may be correct to assume (as the People’s Daily did) that “In the past, Switzerland boldly received the Dalai Lama as the country has little influence on international political strategies. The reason behind the refusal lies in Switzerland’s new awareness of China’s growing power in the global environment, which cannot be ignored. Switzerland must consider cooperating with China in order to advance its national interests and safeguard its economy and trade.” What better evidence do we need than this to say that it is only through brute political force that China is imposing its will on other governments.

On the other hand the 12,000 sell-out crowd in Lausanne and those many who attended the events in Germany have all spent quite a bit of their money to travel to the venue and to purchase entry tickets so that they can get an opportunity to hear from the Dalai Lama. A look at the website of the organizers of the events in Lausanne says that all the tickets for the two-day sessions were sold out. What would be the situation if a Chinese leader were to give a two-day talk in Lausanne and tickets were being sold? At best, there may be just some business type people who will buy the tickets, that too unwillingly.

So if these Chinese officials want to be petty and continue with this childish act of making others believe what they may be hoping for, it only goes to show how unprepared China is to be a genuine superpower.

I want to believe that it is only the wrong sort of leaders that are guiding the propaganda machinery in China and that there are more serious and understanding leaders in Beijing. If that is so, it is time for them to speak up before China loses any standing it has among the people of the world, who ultimately count. Otherwise, the outcome of any match between the Chinese propaganda machinery and the Dalai Lama before the international public opinion will be a foregone conclusion. The Dalai Lama will be the gold medal winner.

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