Monday, March 31

Some clarifications: A second look at the Lhasa, Tibet riots. Part 7

Here are my responses to criticism of Part 5 and Part 6 of this series of posts.

> It is undeniable that Epoch Times picked up on the SARS outbreak story "very early," given the length of time that Beijing denied the existence of the story, which doesn't mean I'm saying that ET did original reporting on the story very early on.

> What was done or not done to a photograph/film footage (e.g., cropping, photoshopping) of the man with the knife/sword is not the key point. What's key is the eyewitness account relating to the footage. The eyewitness, a Thai Chinese woman, claims that she recognized the man as a Chinese policeman working for the police in Tibet, and that she saw him removing Tibetan clothes when he arrived at the Lhasa police station. (See the report in Part 6.)

> The white scarf issue I raised in my Rent-a-mob post (Part 5) is admittedly tenuous but suggestive in light of anecdotes that non-Tibetan or non-Lhasa Tibetan accents/dialects were heard among the March 14 rioters. The key point is that if there were indeed outsiders used to stage attacks on Han property, then it seems logical that there would need to be some method of clearly identifying Han shops/residences for the outsiders. The white scarf might have been such a method, although of course there could have been others.

> In discussing the issue of the white scarfs I made specific reference to the Bharkor area, not to "Lhasa." While Lhasa can be termed a big enough place where Lhasa Tibetans might not be expected to recognize every Tibetan shop, the Bharkor area is not big. And it is there that the hanging of white scarfs to identify Tibetan shops is worth noting, as I pointed out in the earlier post.

> Re the argument that China authorities wouldn't start a riot on the theory that it could get out of hand: eyewitness accounts indicate a large and capable police/ military presence, which for the most part stood down until the riots fizzled out on March 17. In other words, if the March 14 riots were started by the authorities, they obviously felt so much in control of the situation that they didn't need to act.

The April 1 edition of an Australian newspaper passes along observations from a Chinese blogger that are worth considering in the context of studying the Lhasa riots:
[...] Chinese blogger Lian Yue, who campaigned to stop a massive chemical factory being built in downtown Xiamen, a port city in Fujian province, puts the other extreme position in his now removed blog (translated courtesy of China Digital Times - a website banned in China):

1. If there is a power that wants to block information, then we should assume this power is bad.

2. If this power actually blocked the information, then this power should be assumed to be worse.

3. If the power which blocked information now publishes only one-sided information, then we should assume this information is false.

4. For all untrue information, the power which blocks information should be held most responsible.

5. The power which blocks information has no credibility to judge related information that flows around.

6. Information blocking is the only reason for making the divide deeper and the situation worse, since people in different positions are all talking from their own perspectives, and cannot be verified.

7. Ultra-nationalism is an emotion, not reason; therefore censorship is a bed for such emotion, fostering extreme-Tibetan, extreme-Han, Japan hatred, Taiwan hatred and other extreme emotions.

8. Mainland China is a place full of such extreme emotions. This extreme emotion supports the power, and likely prevents reform of the power.

9. Only sufficient information and sufficient expression can dissolve such extreme emotion. Trying to control so-called "dangerous speech" is the biggest danger.

10. Therefore, allowing the media to freely enter Tibet to report is a critical way to solve this problem.
While we're on the subject of SARS news reporting and censorship, this August 2003 report by Erping Zhang titled SARS: Unmasking Censorship in China is very instructive and also appropriate to Lian Yue's remarks.

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