Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chinese Racism in Tibet (and other places)

Few interesting links about Chinese racism can be found here, here, here and here.

I've copied one of the below:

Racism: China's Secret Scourge

ICT Report Refutes Beijing's Denial of Racism in China

Washington, D. C. - International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) will release a report at the UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) documenting the origin and nature of racism against Tibetans and how the Chinese government perpetuates racist attitudes and policies.

The 60- page report, entitled "Jampa: The Story of Racism in Tibet," describes how racist language and concepts permeate China's constitution, laws and policy and how this has contributed to the racism and discrimination Tibetans face today. It is the first comprehensive analysis of this phenomenon, a subject that has not been widely addressed by scholars, human rights groups and others who generally focus on more conventional human rights violations in Tibet.

"While highlighting racism in the west, China has effectively suppressed racism as a domestic issue. This is their shameful secret," said Tsering Jampa, Director of International Campaign for Tibet- Europe.

In the months leading up to the World Conference on Racism, China has portrayed racism as a Western phenomenon that does not exist in China. In a February 2001 submission to the UN, China stated that "all ethnic groups are living in harmony" in China.

"The Chinese government's denial that racism is a significant problem in China is a policy which prevents Tibetans and others from addressing racism in meaningful, constructive ways," said John Ackerly, President of ICT.

The title of the report, "Jampa," refers to the protagonist of a ubiquitous 1963 Communist Party propaganda film depicting Tibetans as a backward people who can only be uplifted by the civilizing force of the Chinese.

"All Tibetans live under the shadow of this film," said Tsering Jampa. "The Chinese government has used it to denigrate Tibetan culture and justify its occupation of Tibet."

At the conference ICT will urge the government of China to acknowledge the extent of the problem and to remove derogatory, chauvinist or paternalistic language from laws and policy statements. ICT is also urging Chinese non- governmental organizations based in the west to work with Tibetan groups on educational programs and initiatives to help combat this long-standing problem.

Although China tried to block the accreditation of Tibetan human rights groups to the World Conference against Racism a vote by UN member counties approved accreditation for ICT and one other Tibetan organization.

ICT has invited also Xiao Qiang, Director of Human Rights in China, whose organization was not accredited, to join its delegation to the conference.


August 2001

International Campaign for Tibet:
Jampa: The Story of Racism in Tibet

On the eve of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is releasing a comprehensive report entitled Jampa: The Story of Racism in Tibet.

The 110-page report exposes widespread racism and discrimination against Tibetans and highlights how the China's laws, regulations and policy statements contribute to racism in Tibet.

PRC Government Policy

The report addresses the myth propagated by the People's Republic of China that racism is mainly a Western phenomenon. Officials in Lhasa and Beijing publicly express that racism has not existed in China since the inception of Communist power. In February 2001, China's Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya declared during the Asia Regional Preparatory Meeting for the WCAR, " . . .at present the Chinese people of all ethnic groups are living in harmony."

However, as stated in the report's foreword, "Racism should be spelled out in order to be dispelled" (Chinese intellectual, Yang Liensheng). Although the government of the PRC adopted a constitution that stipulates racial and ethnic equality for all 56 peoples or "nationalities" in the PRC, enforcement mechanisms are extremely weak and politicized. Peoples who do not physically and culturally resemble the Han are not considered truly Chinese and are ranked lower in the racial hierarchy.

Constitutional and legislative provisions dealing with equality and discrimination are designed and implemented more to maintain a united and integrated Chinese state than to prohibit inequities of racism and discrimination.

Advocacy against racism in China is sometimes interpreted as inciting 'splittism.' The Chinese government's suppression of free discussion concerning race and ethnicity in the PRC is of grave concern and presents a major obstacle to be overcome in eliminating racial discrimination in China and Tibet.


The portrayal of Jampa, an uneducated, dirty Tibetan in the 1963 Chinese propaganda film The Serf, exemplifies the longstanding ethnocentric Chinese perception of Tibetans as backward and in need of Chinese assistance. The government enforces these racial perceptions in supporting the contradictory claim that Tibetans are part of a common "Chinese" ancestry while simultaneously propagating and implementing China's "civilizing mission" in Tibet.

Today's policies and practice of racism and racial discrimination in Tibet are heavily influenced by the historical development of Chinese perceptions of Tibetans. Chinese leaders, including Sun Yatsen and Chiang Kaishek, promoted racial myths to redefine territorial borders and unify the Chinese nation- state.

Chinese nationalism, embedded in a historiography of Chinese greatness and superiority over all other "barbarian" peoples, provides a backdrop to the current Chinese policy on the control and administration of Tibet. In July 2001, Hu Jintao credited China for ushering in "a new era in which Tibet would turn from darkness to light, from backwardness to progress, from poverty to affluence, and from seclusion to openness."

Liberation, enlightenment and modernization have been the ideological banners for subjugating national minorities and, far from promoting respect and equitable treatment, fuel pre- existing biases of backwardness, barbarism and primitiveness.

Tibetan Experience of Discrimination

The Tibetan experience of racism is particularly painful because it exists in the context of colonialist repression, where the government seeks to suppress the distinct Tibetan cultural identity in its efforts to create "Chinese unity."

The denigration and persecution of Tibetan religion and culture is a direct result of central government policy aimed at combating Tibetan resistance to the occupation of their country. The policy decisions resulting from the Chinese government's 3rd Forum on Work in Tibet, held in 1994, have led to the undermining of Tibetans' distinct national and cultural consciousness and religious faith and the assimilation of Tibetans into the framework of Chinese culture.

Tibetans are faced with the choice of assimilating and relinquishing their Tibetan identity, religion and culture or facing the perpetual potential of discrimination.

Tibetans lack access to healthcare, partly due to the concentration of medical facilities in urban areas rather than rural areas where the proportion of Tibetans is greater than Chinese. In the area of education, Tibetan children face many obstacles compared to their Chinese counterparts including expensive school fees, poorly trained teachers, struggling to retain Tibetan language skills through primary school, difficult transitions to Chinese- medium secondary and tertiary schools, and being subjected to the degrading messages of prejudiced curricula. Tibetans also face discrimination in employment and have less access to training and special business permits. Additionally, they must compete with Chinese settlers who frequently have the connections needed to expedite the ability to attain permits, government- provided housing or job opportunities.

Enforcement of laws and regulations that do exist to prohibit acts of discrimination are lax and are subject to an ever- changing political agenda and climate.

Although China's occupation of Tibet has brought a certain level of development to the region, the benefits of this development disproportionately favor Chinese settlers, especially as an influx of Chinese settlers is encouraged to dilute the population.

Among the most consistent human rights violations by the Chinese authorities in Tibet is the suppression of religious and cultural freedom. Approximately half of Tibetan political prisoners are Buddhist monks and nuns. Moreover, the attitude in China toward religion in Tibetan culture constitutes a type of discrimination that has been recognized by the UN Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination.

Conclusions and Recommendations

China has a demonstrably good record in opposing racism in some of its international forms and for opposing apartheid in South Africa long before many other governments, including the government of the United States. But domestically, China lags far behind much of the world in acknowledging and addressing racism. Rather than allowing open debate about racism, China rigorously suppresses such discourse, setting back progress in the fight against racism.

  • The PRC should acknowledge and expressly recognize the existence and harmful effects of racism in the PRC. The government must initiate a public discussion and education campaign on the issue, for which it should mobilize substantial resources.
  • The PRC government should create a commission to undertake a thorough review of the Constitution and laws of the PRC and repeal any language that is chauvinistic, paternalistic or could otherwise contribute to discrimination against minority groups such as Tibetans. The commission should consist of members of all ethnic groups in the PRC who have a good understanding of the perceptions and feelings of their respective peoples.
  • The PRC government- should commission a revision of all school and university textbooks to remove and revise any portions and references that contain racist elements or that could contribute to the perpetration of racist perceptions and attitudes.
  • The PRC should invite the U N Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia to visit Tibet and examine Chinese policies and practices with respect to Tibetans and make specific recommendations on ways to combat any manifestations of racism and racial discrimination he/ she may find there.
  • Acts of racism and racial discrimination should be prevented and prosecuted by law; victims should have legal redress and perpetrators should face punishment.

Friday, March 21, 2008

White Guilt

Especially for Mr Anonymous:



Interesting Assumptions

Well, I've had a regular anonymous commenter making remarks about 'white guilt' and 'white privilege', amongst a host of other interesting but rather silly observations.

First off, it's clear that this person has assumed I am 'white' or Caucasian, and sorry to say it my anonymous friend, you are wrong. I am not Caucasian. Further to that, my race is not an issue, despite you trying to make it one.

Now, this concept of 'white privledge' got me a little intrigued, as did the concept of 'white guilt' being pushed as reasons why Asian racism is not as bad / non-existent, should not be discussed (the old "you are racist to so don't preach" argument) . I think the concepts are both piles of steaming junk.

First of all there is the false assumption that 'white' concepts of racial superiority were unique to western schools of thought. This is not true, a number of other societies have had related concepts of racial divides and levels etc independently of any western influence and often pre-dating western contact. So the concept of racial hierarchies is not a western construct.

The second false assumption is that only 'white' nations engaged in colonialism to enrich themselves. Again, wrong. Indeed four of the biggest colonial powers, the Mongolians, the Han Chinese, the Japanese and the Indonesians are not 'white' and, in the case of the Chinese and Indonesians, are still today engaged in colonialism.

The third false assumption is that somehow the combination of a belief in racial superiority combined with colonialism and economic domination and control has led to some form of privilege that only white people enjoy.

What a joke, and a funny one at that! The fact of the matter is that for whatever reason, western societies went from a level of civilization below that of most of the rest of the world to basically running the world in around 300 years. That's a big turn around. WHY this happened is still open to debate. Was it technology? was it the underlying social systems that developed? the economic ones? the intense competition between European nation states? whatever the reason, the concept that somehow 'white' people should be guilty for their successes is laughable.

What is NOT laughable is that they should apologize for their colonial actions and repressions. Likewise we have right now in the world, a number of Asian countries that are still playing the colonial game. China is one, Indonesia another and Japan has never truly confronted it's imperialistic past the way, say, the Germans have. So if the 'white' people need to apologize for colonial actions, then a large part of the Asian world also needs to do so, and even worse, desist in current colonial actions.

So how does this relate to Mr anonymous? Well he appears to be trying to say that in Asian soceties no such thing as 'white privledge' exists. I have to disagree and respectully suggest to Mr anonymous that they read a plethora of information on this blog and elsewhere to see that this is simply not true.

Mr anonymous also asserts that as a 'white' (as false presumption) I can never know what it feels like to be the subject of white racism AND that any racism a 'white' faces in Asian CANNOT (repeat, CANNOT) be as bad as what non-whites face at the hands of whites.

Now, i'm sure most of my educated readers won't need to see the strawmans arguments in those assertions. But for the fun of it...

1. How do you measure how bad racism is? therefore, how do you tell if a person of Asian origin, experiencing a racist act at the hands of a 'white person' feels worse than a 'white' person experiencing the same racist act at the hands of an Asian person?

2. Why is racism perpetuated by one group (in this case, accoring to Mr anonymous, 'whites') worse than racism perpetuated by another? What makes it worse? why is it worse? How do you measure it?

3. What is so unique about 'white' racism that makes it so different to other forms? (remember, the historical, social and economic aspects that supposedly make 'white' racism unique are bunk arguments as other ethnic groups that engage in racist behavior have the same historical, economic and social advantages over others groups, hence the circumstances that many writes suggest make 'white' racism unique, are indeed not unique)

As such, I don't think 'white privilege' really stands up to scrutiny in the 21st century. Likewise, I see no reason why 'white guilt' over success (not over colonial acts, the two are not totally connected) should exist. Even if you take both concepts to be true, then there should be Chinese-Singaporean privilege and associated guilt, Malay privilege and associated guilt and so on and so forth.

Mr anonymous then suggested that I should make a blog against ALL forms of racism in the world. With all due respect Mr anonymous, thanks for the tip but NO.

I started this blog for a number of reasons. First of all 'white' racism is well documented and there are a large number of links of WWW to support groups and so on and so forth. There is even one on this very blog. Likewise blogs against he caste system in India and the discrimination between inter-arab groups and inter-african groups also exists.

Secondly, I believe, given my experiences in Asia over the last 20 years (coming onto 21 soon) that I am in a better position to write about Asian racism against other Asians and non-Asians that I could write about the experience of say, Turkish migrants to Germany, Serbian shopkeepers is Kosovo, African Americans in Texas, Lebanese migrants to Australia, Japanese migrants to Brazil or Maori experiences in New Zealand.

So i could write about the time I was detained for nearly 48 hours by airport police, in an Asian country, being interrogated without legal representation, over a bottle of talcum powder in my carry on bags for my new-born baby, repeatedly being told that as I was a (insert name of my ethnic background) they were POSITIVE that it has heroin, that I was a drug smuggler, that my people were all thieves and crooks etc etc etc.

I look back (now) and laugh at the situation because that particular nation is now one of the worlds leading drug suppliers and people from that nation have been responsible for establishing criminal drug distribution networks in a large number of non-asian countries.

So YES Mr anonymous i have experience racial profiling and discrimination first hand, and that is not the only incident in my time in Asia where my race has been used as the basis for refusal of service, physical intimidation and assault, rejections from educational institutions based on racial quota's, extortion, detention (then release, obviously!) and overt hostility.

Racism in Asia is a problem, like racism anywhere. This blog aims to highlight it, to bring news clippings, academic articles etc into one place for reference purposes. This is not in anyway denying the equally destructive other forms of racism.

The differences between Asian Racism and other forms is this:

1. Gernerally speaking, Asian Racism is not discussed in Asian media, and indeed in some countries (it appears Mr anonymous is in Singapore) it is even 'off limits' by government control on media. As a result people are not always challenged to acknowledge, discuss and confront the problem.

2. Generally speaking, Asian Racism is not even seen as a social problem by the dominant ethnic majority and likewise, minorities perspectives are discredited (ala Ainu in Japan, Indians in Singapore, Tibetans in China etc)

3. Unlike most western countries, most Asian countries donot have strong anti-racism systems in place at the governmental or community level. As such there is often little recourse for those who have been discriminated against or little done to educate people in ways that reduce racial tensions or little done to sooth community relations when issues do arise.

4. As shown by Mr anonymous, the common response when talking about Asian racism by those that seek to defend it or deny it's existence is that the author should not comment as they either (a) come from a racist country (b) are not Asian (c) are not citizens of the country of residence (d) a racist themselves or that (e) other forms of racism are somehow worse or more deserving of attention.

Finally, Mr anonymous challenged me on another two issues:

1. My own anonymity and lack of ability to contact me directly.
2. Freedom of speech

Ok, on the first issue let me make my reasons who having a moderated blog and not having my email anywhere on this blog for a number of reasons. First of all, given the country I live in it would be unwise to have an unmoderated blog as case law has show that site owners and editors (and blog owners are considered editors) WILL be held responsible for any racist comments that appear on thier blog regardless of weather they are personally responsible for the content or not. Given the number of "*uck you you stupid *ucking angmoh/gaijin/white/honkey/redneck *****hole" type comments i get, followed by diatribes against Caucasians, Indians, hell, i've even had some crackpot white supremest post a number of 1000+ word articles on the evilness of a specific ethnic group. Damn scary stuff. So given all that, a non-moderated blog is not an options.

Secondly, I donot have my email as contactable for similar reasons as above, plus spam reasons AND given that various countries have anti 'sedition' laws in the books and given my previous run-ins with one government in particular whilst working for Amnesty international in the late 80's and the Red Cross in the late 90's, no thanks, I'll keep myself off the radar a little.

Finally, freedom of speech. I love it. I support it. But I also support censorship in certain circumstances (i.e pornography, hate speech etc) and in my opinion Mr anonymous, your last posts were paint all 'whites' and most western countries in a very specific and negative way, and so as a result, I saw little value in what they can add to the debate as this is not a debate about western colonialism or racism, but Asian colonialism and racism.

Mr anonymous, you can deny it exists, but to do so is like walking with your eyes closed. It's out there and this blog is designed to highlight it. This doesnot mean I don't acknowledge other forms of racism, merely that this blog doesnot deal with them.

For more on 'white' guilt etc take a look here and here.



Tibet and Han Chinese Colonialism

This last week or so has been very hard to stomach. The Tibetan people, victims of colonialism in it's most brutal form at the hands of the Chinese has tried to protest their position to no avail. As a result they have been brutally repressed.

I've covered Chinese racism on this blog extensively before, and I have also touched on the subject of Chinese colonialism, as China is one of the worlds largest and most successful colonial powers the world has ever seen. It is right up there with the Mongols, the Indonesians, the Russians (in the guise of the USSR) and to a lesser extent, the Japanese.

I think it's a crying shame that so much inter-ethnic violence happens inside China (again, covered before) and is not reported, examined or discussed to develop more effective solutions other than violence and the suppression of language, culture and peoples based on difference.

Just like Malaysia has religious 're-education' camps for people who wish to convert from Islam to another religion, China needs to 'deepen' it's 'nationalistic education' . In other words, we need to BRAINWASH our non-Chinese population more.

Media tell of Chinese police threats over Tibet

Chinese police have threatened or blocked foreign journalists from reporting on unrest in Tibet on 30 occasions since deadly riots erupted there last week, reporters said today.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China said journalists had experienced interference in the cities of Beijing, Chengdu and Xining, as well as in Lhasa.

"You don't want to know what will happen if you don't show us the footage,'' the club quoted police telling Finnish reporter Katri Makkonen, who was detained yesterday in Gansu province, where Tibetan monks held protests against Chinese rule.

In several other locations, police barred reporters from carrying out their work and escorted them out of areas where forces were reportedly quelling unrest.

Tibetan regions erupted last week in the most serious anti-China riots in nearly 20 years. The exiled government of the Dalai Lama in the India town of Dharamshala has said hundreds of Tibetan protesters were killed in the crackdown on unrest.

Hundreds have also been detained in the regional capital of Lhasa, according to activists.

The interference comes after the club this week demanded that the government respect new regulations issued for the period up to and during the Beijing Olympics, allowing greater press freedoms for foreign journalists.

On Monday, the US State Department spokesman Tom Casey decried China's expulsion of foreign journalists from Tibet, calling it "disturbing and disappointing''.

Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders strongly condemned yesterday what it called steps taken by Beijing to prevent media coverage of demonstrations and an ongoing crackdown in Tibet.

China warns of 'life and death' struggle

China warned of a "life and death'' struggle with the Dalai Lama today, as it sought to end a wave of protests in its Tibetan regions with arrests and tightened political control.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has accused the Tibetan spiritual leader of masterminding the protests - which culminated in a riot on Friday in Tibet's capital, Lhasa - from his base in the Indian town of Dharamsala, where he lives in exile.

"We are in the midst of a fierce struggle involving blood and fire, a life and death struggle with the Dalai clique,'' Tibet's Communist Party secretary, Zhang Qingli, told a teleconference of the region's government and Party leaders.

"Leaders of the whole country must deeply understand the arduousness, complexity and long-term nature of the struggle,'' he said in remarks carried online by the China Tibet News.

Zhang also suggested greater political control in the region.

"We must continue to deepen our nationalist education and practically strengthen the building of political power at the grassroots,'' he said.

'Rioters' surrender, says China

Chinese authorities say 105 "rioters" involved in protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa had surrendered, the official Xinhua news agency reported today.

The 105 people gave themselves up to authorities by 11pm yesterday, (0200 AEDT Wednesday) - 23 hours after a deadline set by the government for those involved in last week's unrest to surrender, Xinhua said.

Chinese authorities said rioters killed 13 "innocent civilians" in Friday's unrest, when a week of protests by Tibetans against China's rule of their homeland erupted into violence in Lhasa.

Authorities have insisted that they did not use any lethal force to quell the protests, however Tibetan exiled leaders have said possibly hundreds of people were killed in the ensuing Chinese crackdown.

Tibetan government vice chairman Baema Chilain said the people who gave themselves in to police had been directly involved in "the beating, smashing, looting and arson" on Friday, according to Xinhua.

"Some have turned in the money they looted," Xinhua quoted Baema as saying.

Lhasa has been sealed off to foreign journalists, making it impossible to determine the real situation.

Xinhua's report quoted one Tibetan who surrendered, Doje Cering, 25, as saying he was drunk at home when he heard the unrest and decided to join in.

Xinhua said it had spoken to the protester after he surrendered.