Monday, April 21, 2008

BBC: China Urges 'Rational' Protests

From BBC News:
China has urged its citizens to be calm amid further anti-Western protests in the country, focused on French supermarket chain Carrefour.

The official Communist Party newspaper, the People's Daily, said patriotism should be expressed rationally.

The protesters have been angered by disruption of the Olympic torch relay in Paris and London.

They also accuse the West of supporting Tibetan separatists, and the Western media of bias.

The official Xinhua news agency said more than 1,000 people carrying banners had gathered in front of a Carrefour store in the city of Xian, and there were also protests in Harbin and Jinan.

Xinhua added that police were monitoring the demonstrations in the three cities, which remained peaceful.

The protests came after Saturday saw hundreds of people demonstrating in cities including Beijing, Wuhan, Hefei, Kunming, and Qingdao - often outside Carrefour stores.

Protesters denounced French President Nicolas Sarkozy's refusal to confirm whether he would attend the opening ceremony of the Games.

Carrefour has restated its support for Beijing's hosting of the Olympics this August, and denies the accusations by some protesters that it backs the campaign for Tibetan independence.

The front-page Sunday editorial in the People's Daily called on Chinese people to cherish patriotism "while expressing it in a rational way".

It said: "As citizens, we have the responsibility to express our patriotic enthusiasm calmly and rationally and express patriotic aspiration in an orderly and legal manner.

"The more complicated the international situation is, the more calmness, wisdom and unity need to be shown by the Chinese people."

The BBC's Daniel Griffiths in Beijing says this is a clear sign that the Chinese government does not want to see any escalation in the protests.

Related article: New York Times - "Young Chinese have no sympathy for Tibet"

So the Chinese government have realised that using the patriotic card can be a double edged sword. I'm sorry China but when you release the genie, it can be damn hard to get it back into its lamp again. But what I'm going to do is to congratulate China for its successful brainwashing programme at a national level. It's this kind of patriotic fervour that has led its citizens to be herded around like sheep, susceptible to manipulation by the authorities. Even soldiers in wartime sometime question their purpose on the battlefield. Really, patriotism can be the last thing on your mind when you're battling for survival.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs dictates that physiological, safety, belonging and self-esteem aspects must be fulfilled in order to achieve self-actualisation. We can come to the conclusion that the needs of protesters in China are mostly fulfilled (and oblivious), and that protesters in Tibet are still stuck struggling with the safety aspect.

Personally I wouldn't give my patriotism to a country who doesn't think twice about breaking your limbs and popping your kneecaps if you have alternate views. Patriotism is only worthy when there's space for personal freedom as well as dissent. It has to be earned through winning the hearts and minds of people, not through brainwashing.

What better way is there to gain freedom than to dismantle an authoritarian government through independence? This is why I advocate Tibetian independence, Taiwanese international recognition and any other authority which wants independence as long as that's what the people wants. There's no point being possessive over a region which clearly doesn't want to be controlled.

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