A journalistic boycott ?

We’ve talked about China a lot recently and in every programme the suggestion of a boycott of the Beijing Games always comes up.

By no means a majority view of course (based on our unscientific survey of contributors) but still, it’s out there.

President Sarkozy of France was asked about it  yesterday and he refused to rule out not attending the opening ceremony. It’s a popular one because it doesn’t stop the athletes from competing, but embarasses China peacefully by having no foreign dignitaries appearing to bless their regime.

An issue that came up on yesterday’s programme was whether journalists should boycott the Games. After all, why should “we” support an event- the argument goes- in a country which imprisons journalists, doesn’t allow free access to information and censors what it’s citizens can see, never mind the big issues of  Darfur or Tibet ?

In fact, the censorship of the press at the Games has already begun.

Most journalists throw their hands up in horror (possibly because they fancy a trip to Beijing but i may be being a bit cynical there) at the thought.  We have a duty to report, they say, it’s a good opportunity to “test” the allegedly relaxed media restrictions…..and it’s a great story in a great and fascinating country, runs the counter-argument.

So i was interested to read the comments  of Daniel Bilalian  who is director of sports on French public tv… he says if pictures of demonstrations are sanitised or censored..

“At that time, the president of France Televisions, would, without a doubt I believe, decide not to cover the Olympic Games.”

So does the media have a responsibility to add political pressure – or should “we” just shut up and do our job in the best way we can ?

And to declare an interest ; i am scheduled to be part of the WS team to cover the Beijing Olympics.

48 Responses to “A journalistic boycott ?”

  1. 1 Mark Sandell
    March 26, 2008 at 10:16

    This from “Chen” :
    I support the boycott of Olympic games idea — at the same time, I am amased that no Westen media talks about boycott of any sports or media activity in the UK and US as protest of the invasion of Irag and the human rights disaster. Where is BBC?

  2. 2 John van Dokkumburg
    March 26, 2008 at 11:24

    Not a made by all journalistic boycott but and if allowed every one think about it and make it up by themselfs,
    Secondly option for boycott may not be a part of a political orchestrated disission. There own interest may go before the usefull reports for there own region to thinking this is not the way we handle with these differants of personal related short level.

    A dump boycott isnt working , it gives a feeling of beeing wrong without having the chance ( the boycotted regime )to say someting back , Then in first its us who can boycott parts of the propaganda news .. but who wants this and knows how … Time for a digital TV channel so you can choose to boycott ? ..

    Only if the media as a whole ( must be ) become a part of a regime .. a total boycott … our particulair scenes left out our use alternative subjects – between the sport avents – is a option !

  3. 3 Brett
    March 26, 2008 at 11:25

    I think that the hypocritic nations who are upset with China need to start watching how far they are going to try to publicly humiliate China in the games. China is one of the fastest growing economic powers, it is doubtful as they grow that they will forget the hypocrites that publicly snubbed them for the sake of doing it to accomplish nothing but embarrass them in the world stage of the Olympic Games.
    It seems that more and more people are losing sight of how to solve ‘the big issues’ with China and are trying more and more to simply ruin the Olympic Games for them.

    The medias job is to cover stories. How is the media going to do that if they boycott the games? Firstly they will lose viewers. I will turn the channel to a media outlet who is showing the games, or go somewhere online to watch it. Second, I guess a media boycott would surely answer the question the other day on whether or not the media is biased towards China.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  4. March 26, 2008 at 11:59

    I don’t think a media boycott is a good idea. The olympics and China’s current human rights abuses in Tibet are related to many other complex and interdependent realities. A media boycott of the games would be a boycott of all these factors. In short, even in the worst situations, something good might suddenly surface. Why risk missing this by a total boycott?
    I applaud Archbishop Desmond Tutu for his statement, issued today, on the Chinese abuse of the Dalai Lama, and his call for resolution of the Tibet issue.
    This is the kind of thing that might be lost to the public view if any sort of media boycott happens anywhere in the world.
    No to the boycott of information, even skewed information. At least one can still read between the lines!

  5. 5 ZK
    March 26, 2008 at 11:59

    All these posts from Chinese people (as in, people from China, not Chinese as an ethnicity), especially about Tibet, are all terribly misguided and many of them have been brainwashed into defending their government in Beijing, or in the case of journalists they have to be careful what they say, and could quite easily be forced to condemn foreign media under duress. Personally I find it ridiculous that the BBC even cares to air these views.

    For that reason — the brainwashing and suppression of people and journalists — I would support any decision to boycott the Games from a journalistic point of view.

  6. 6 Ezra Ijioma
    March 26, 2008 at 12:30

    Despite her many problems, China has come a very long and must be supported and not condemned.The West is simply afraid of China’s growing strength and is trying to run her down.The Olympics will help China open up thus it must not be boycotted.Let the Games begin in Bejing. No more noise.

  7. 7 Chen
    March 26, 2008 at 12:40

    “All these posts from Chinese people (as in, people from China, not Chinese as an ethnicity), especially about Tibet, are all terribly misguided and many of them have been brainwashed into defending their government in Beijing” — Well, you just insulted the intelligence of one billion people.
    This is something the people from “the West,” not Westerners as a group may want to be brainwashed with: boycotting the Olympics will not weak the Chinese government, to the controrary — it will strengthen it . The ordinary Chinese will take the boycotting not as a public protest of their government, but as a personal humilation of themselves at their long-waited moment of great pride and joy. Any boycotting at the games will only remind them of the not so distant past of being humiliated and abused by Western powers, and reinforce their already existing suspicion about the hostile attitude from the West. Here is reality “westeners” may not like: boycotting or any “unbiased” reporting from the West will do more “brainwashing” service to the Chinese people than any propaganda by the Chinese government can ever dream of. If someone has not realized this, he/she does not know China.

  8. 8 Chen
    March 26, 2008 at 13:09

    Before taking any actions of boycotting, I suggest the “westerners” think carefully what they want to achieve by their actions.
    If the goal is to publicly humiliate China, then do it — it is easy and the West is very good at it.
    If the goal is to facilitate changes in China and solve the problem with Tibet, I am afraid that the boycotting people are grossly miscalculating.
    Boycotting without knowing the possible reactions on the ground, without knowing how the local people will react to your actions, it is a stunning and not suprising. I guess the Chinese people will throw flowers at the boycotting westerners as liberators.

  9. March 26, 2008 at 13:22

    I wonder what good a boycott would actually do. If the BBC Boycott the olympic games it will make a powerful statement to the world that we are not happy with the Tibet/ China situation. However since the British Government is keeping fairly quiet about the whole problem the BBC would not necessarily have the support of international diplomacy, which would ensure no long term benefit from the boycott.

    I think that instead of pushing for a journalism boycott, international pressure should be exerted on China to allow journalists back into Tibet. I realise that the media is santized (although to some degree so is every media outlet, British Journalism has a tendancy to promote anti america actions in Iraq but not to go into so much detail when either the Brit or American troops are making progress). But it is only through international journalisms submitting their different opinions on the Tibetian situation that the world can draw any conclusions on what is actually happening in Tibet.

    With regards to the number of chinese people posting i think it is a good sign of an international program engaging with a current debate. Yet as i mentioned earlier all countries place their own restrictions on media, its just believed by the western world that owing to the focus on the olympic games the current chinese media is facing more pressure than usual. Keep going WHYS 🙂

  10. 10 eric aka eks321
    March 26, 2008 at 13:27

    if the chinese communist government (ccg)wanted to allow the truth of the situation in tibet to be broadcast, they should allow all independent legitimate media outlets full and unfettered access to tibet. however, the ccg has no desire to allow the truth of the situation to be disclosed because it would have uncovered their own lies about the true historical situation in tibet. until the ccg allows full and unfettered access to tibet and all of its citizens, without guided access that is controlled by minders, the world community should keep the pressure on. we should encourage our leaders to follow president sarkozy’s lead and threaten to boycott the olympics. however, there is one major problem with the idea of boycotting the ccg’s offer of limited access. the ccg will gather sympathetic government controlled propagandists to rebroadcast the ccg lies about the true situation in tibet. by accepting the ccg offer, independent journalists can see what the ccg allows them to see, but then broadcast the truth about how conditions are without supporting the ccg line. these journalists will be able to gain insights that will allow the world a better understanding of how tyrannical and repressive the ccg
    really are. so, while morally the world journalistic community should boycott, the reality dictates that if even one legitimate journalist can get into tibet, they should accept the invitation. if the ccg only allows compromised propagandists, the legitimate worldwide media outlets and bloggers will let the citizen’s of the world know the truth

  11. 11 steve
    March 26, 2008 at 13:28

    Doesn’t China’s preparations for the olympics, and no doubt, they will have presentations trying to present how great china is, somewhat, though not trying to equate, similar to the 1936 olympics, where HItler used the Olympics to try to showcase how great germany was??? Trying to show off “greatness” is a sign of insecurity. People cannot drive on certain days to reduce the amount of pollutants in the air, to give foreigners a false impression of what life is like in China. I’m sure they will temporarily limit restrictions on free speech, etc… Not like China is remotely close to nazi germany, it still sounds familiar.

  12. 12 Xie_Ming
    March 26, 2008 at 14:16

    The comments of CHEN (above) are particularly rational and cogent.

    The psychology of those who cry for boycott and similar interventions, without an expressed rationale, might be profitably examined.

    Are we too agitated to examine our premises?

    For duller sensibilities:

    By what rationale do you claim the right or wisdom to tell another nation what to do?

    Are your values demonstrably superior for that country?

  13. 13 kola
    March 26, 2008 at 14:20

    China? where is china?

  14. 14 Chen
    March 26, 2008 at 14:21

    “People cannot drive on certain days to reduce the amount of pollutants in the air, to give foreigners a false impression of what life is like in China.” — very insightful. So the Chinese government will not allow foreigners to see “what life is like in China” before and after the games when drives can drive their cars? in the rest of the year, the decade, the century? I am sure the more than 11 million foreigners visiting China each year will also have be fooled when the drivers freely omit pollutans in the air.

    “Not like China is remotely close to nazi germany, it still sounds familiar.” — Very soft criticism of China. Let me tell you what Hermann Goering (remember him?) said in the Nuremberg Diaries: He was talking about “bringing people alone” to agreesive wars.
    “people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” Does it sound familiar? Remind you of some “greatest country ever existedon earth “?

  15. 15 steve
    March 26, 2008 at 14:35

    So chen, why is China limiting driving to reduce pollutants in the air during the olympics? Do you think they will continue that after the olympics are over?? Is it just so the athletes can breathe, or perhaps it’s to give the LARGER number of foreigners there during the olympics a false impression??

    I’m curious how much of the houses for the poor have been torn down and they have been relocated to the countryside as a form of sweeping them under the carpet? At least in the west, when we have Olympics, they can tend to be in not so great areas which we don’t try to hide. It’s not like LA or Atlanta at cities on a hill.

  16. 16 Chen
    March 26, 2008 at 15:06

    Let me try to answer Kola’s question “China, where is China?”
    To locate China, the first step is to know where US is. Of course we know that — the US is located at the very center of the earth, and the whole universe.
    From the location of the US, we can now see that China is just one of those tiny tiny spots on the very brink of earth, nothing significant about it. Just ignore it.

  17. 17 Kenneth
    March 26, 2008 at 15:10

    “For duller sensibilities:

    By what rationale do you claim the right or wisdom to tell another nation what to do?

    Are your values demonstrably superior for that country?”

    ….Uh, ya!

    Xie Ming’s comments reveal so much about the underlying premises of apologists for the Chinese Communist Governtment’s abuses.

    Rationale to claim wisdom to tell another nation what to do? That’s the line of the bully right there, like “Hey, I’m beating my wife and kids, and what business is it of yours!?!” If humans don’t hold other humans accountable for abusive activities and don’t show up to help when someone else’s house is burning, or when they need help in other ways, the result is a proliferation of unimaginable suffering. The Serbs wanted the international community to “bug-off”, as does the regime in Sudan (Darfur tragedy), as do the neoconservatives in the US. Every dictator and abuser wants to be left alone to rule the world. Fortunately, there are humans who care, who see the suffering of others and say “no more!”.

    In the US, half of the country is struggling to stop the abuses of the Bush regime and bring peace and sanity back to the the US government’s executive branch and therefore, to the world. If Americans took the example of wisdom from Xie Ming, they would grant the president absolute powers with filial piety, and keep their objections to themselves “for the good of the people”. The chinese may buy that approach as culturally acceptable, but I don’t, and I think in general American’s don’t. We stand for our beliefs, and we show up to support the freedom of all people, both inside and outside of our country. When our government gets off track, like the current deluded conservative regime, those with wisdom and compassion work hard to bring things back to balance. If chinese people would do the same, the world would be a much better place.

  18. 18 steve
    March 26, 2008 at 15:21

    Kenneth, he wants you to not criticize China becuase if you criticize China, you cannot be singling out Israel for criticism.

  19. 19 Will Rhodes
    March 26, 2008 at 15:28

    To Mark Sandell directly:

    You have brought this question up – I think we are on the third day of discussing China in one way or another, so I would ask the question, what do you feel about a journalistic boycott of the Olympics? Are you, personally, in favour of one? If so – how would it work and who else do you feel would be involved?

    Should all the journalists have a caucus to decide if they will report the Olympics and go with what the majority think?

    This is one of the times we would like to hear what a journalist has to say on the matter.

  20. 20 Xie_Ming
    March 26, 2008 at 15:30

    The foregoing ignores a key aspect:

    By what rationale do we claim the right to tell ANOTHER NATION what to do?

    How are we certain that our values are better or more appropriate?

    It is better to be explicit, rather than to become immersed in loose analogies.


    Incidentally, unless the BBC comes up with a history of Tibet, we will here have exposed a fundmental failing in the news system.

  21. March 26, 2008 at 15:34


    Togo Kasoro

  22. 22 Chen
    March 26, 2008 at 15:38

    I admire Kenneth’s passion. Seriously.
    But I want to share my thoughts trigered by his comments.

    “In the US, half of the country is struggling to stop the abuses of the Bush regime and bring peace and sanity back to the the US government’s executive branch and therefore, to the world.” — (1) I doubt if the War in Irag were going well, “half of the country” would have bothered to “struggle to stop the abuses of the Bush regime and bring peace .” (2) If by bringing “sanity back to the the US government’s executive branch” you can also bring the sanity t o the World, consequently, US government = World government?

    “If humans don’t hold other humans accountable for abusive activities and don’t show up to help when someone else’s house is burning, or when they need help in other ways, the result is a proliferation of unimaginable suffering.” — absolutely agree. The Serbs’ example is really good one. If you — the compassionate human beings — need to send Nato troops to stop Serbs from killing Albanians, then by the same logic, you also need to send troops to stop Americans from killing Iraqis. Why didn’t you do that? How many Albanians were killed by Serbs? I guess no more than the one million “liberated” by the Americans and British from the this earth.

    “If Americans took the example of wisdom from Xie Ming, they would grant the president absolute powers with filial piety, and keep their objections to themselves “for the good of the people”. ” — Didn’t America people, represented by its “freely elected representatives,” did just that “with filial piety” after 9/11? Patriot act? Authorization of invasion?

  23. 23 George USA
    March 26, 2008 at 15:39

    Journalistic boycott is a poor idea.

    We have China shooting themselves in the foot daily over Tibet.

    The Torch Ceremony was hilarious on BBC TV News.

    A totalitarian country is whining about unfair media while stomping Tibet.

    And China is actually serious about their image in the Olympics while killing their colonials.


    If you pass this show up, you have rocks in your head.

  24. 24 Chen
    March 26, 2008 at 15:58

    Lets go back to the boycot issue.
    Just to reiterate: if you want to humilate China — boycott is a good idea.
    If you want to change China and solve problems — boycott is a poor idea — at least for the changes you want.
    if you want to change China by humiliating China in front of the world — you are mistaken.

  25. 25 steve
    March 26, 2008 at 16:09


    How would it be humiliating? If they really that insecure? I don’t think the US was humiliated with the Soviet bloc boycotted the LA olympics in 1984. I doubt the USSr was humiliated in 1980 when the US boycotted the olympics. Are they really that insecure? Why don’t they buy us all presents so we love them if they’re that insecure? You know, buying someone’s affections works so well (i hope you can see I’m being sarcastic)

  26. 26 George USA
    March 26, 2008 at 16:29


    China is doing the humiliation to herself.

    Nothing any other nation does or could do would top that.

    As China heaps shame, disgrace, and dishonor on herself,

    you might ask why,

    rather than attempt to project it on others.

  27. 27 Xie_Ming
    March 26, 2008 at 16:40

    A very popular spot in Mecca is a place where the pilgrims throw rocks at a pillar representing the Devil. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the pillar- why is it so popular to throw rocks at it?

    To reiterate:

    What rationale causes us to believe that our values are better or more appropriate to another nation?

    What rationale causes us to believe that we should force our values on other nations?

  28. 28 viola anderson
    March 26, 2008 at 17:06

    Xie Ming, “For duller sensibilities” strikes me as the utterance of an arrogant, overbearing sensibility. It is like a red flag used to madden the bull before the sword thrust, except the people on this post are not bulls and don’t have to react like bulls. Make your arguments. Nobody is interested in your opinion of their of their sensibilities.

    Chinese leaders surely know that putting their nation on display means more coverage by journalist of all kinds.

    The Olympics should serve their original purpose, not serve as a political arena for people to advance their causes. The Tibetan people’s loss of sovereignty under Communist China is already well-known. Surely the Chinese people know it, too. If they don’t, they’re not nearly as smart as everybody thinks they are.

  29. 29 Scott Millar
    March 26, 2008 at 17:16

    I think a media boycott is a dangerous avenue to pursue. The media has a job to do. We no more want the media to pick and choose then we want our pharmacists (in the USA) to decide whether to fill prescriptions for the morning after pill, because they object on religious grounds.

    Everyone else should be free to boycott. If China is embarrassed, so be it. Chinese economic prowess should certainly be no reason for “respect,” as others have suggested – superficial.

    -Portland, Oregon

  30. 30 Mark Sandell
    March 26, 2008 at 17:23

    Hello Will, apologies i’ve taken so long to respond. As you know, it’s a bit of a minefield this, and as i’ve pointed out, i am due to cover the Games for WS programmes. I have to answer as a journalist, not as a BBC employee if that’s not too tortuous, and if it’s not contradictory on a BBC website.
    No, i wouldn’t favour a boycott from me or my colleagues, but i’m not entirely conmfortable with this answer. The Chinese authorities say they will relax their usually stringent rules on travelling around and freely associating with interviewees, and if this turns out to be an empty boast then that in itself becomes a story. It’s a country that(a big generalisation this) not many outsiders know in a modern context and i think we have a duty to paint an accurate picture of life there, and what people tell us. I also want to convey some of the atmosphere of the Games ( i was in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens so i don’t have to tell you what i think of the Olympics !)for those around the world. But i want journalists to question their actions, as they should at all times anyway. I hope this answer isn’t too vague, and also not in breach of BBC Guidelines on impartiality. If it is, all the best, it’s been nice knowing you all.

  31. 31 Kenneth
    March 26, 2008 at 17:24

    Thank you, Chen. To respond to your questions:

    The opposition of caring people to the US adventure in Iraq did not begin because the war was not going well. The opposition preceded the war itself, with millions of caring people in the US and countries around the world marching in the streets to say NO to a war that had not even started. That, to me, indicates that there are many caring people who can see trouble coming, and who are willing to take action to prevent the suffering before it starts. That is absolutely beautiful. There is hope. Those who care are not alone.

    No, my comment about bringing sanity to the US government should not be understood to imply that the US is the government of the world, but simply that the activities of the US government has global impacts. Look at the impact of the lack of regulation on home mortgage lending under the Bush administration, and the problems that has caused for global financial institutions, including national banks in England, Switzerland, etc.

    Regarding the idea of stopping the US from killing Iraqis, there are many, many people who support that idea. It doesn’t mean their values are being acted upon by the current US government, but neither are they non-existent.

    Likewise regarding opposition to the (un)Patriot Act. That act was passed in an unprecedented overnight secret session of the US congress, driven by the fear that people were under at the time from the 9/11 attacks, but it has been opposed strongly and openly since day 1 by many advocates of human rights in the US. The voices of opposition have not prevailed, yet. However, they have not been completely censored either. They exist, and they have been represented regularly in national media outlets including broadcast radio and television.

    I don’t mean to imply in any way that there are no Chinese who support human rights and truth in reporting. Of course there are, and much to the discomfort of the authoritarian regime of the Communist Chinese Government, their numbers are probably in the millions if not the hundreds of millions.

    Finally, regarding the idea of a boycott of journalists and your assertion that this would have tragic consequences, because of the response that would be likely from China in the face of “humiliation”, I disagree. It is not the messengers who are guilty or who would cause any humiliation, but the shame of the guilty parties themselves. If the Chinese government doesn’t like bad press, they should stop generating it, right?

  32. 32 steve
    March 26, 2008 at 17:49

    Xie_Ming: Of course, Israel is the exception to your point, right?

    I know everybody, let’s please stop talking about China and Tibet, as we cannot single out Israel if we do that. so no more talking about media bias against china, no questioning China’s policies, what it’s doing, so we can focus all of our energies (and wear our tinfoil hats) on singling out Israel for criticism..

  33. 33 VictorK
    March 26, 2008 at 18:00

    @Chen: wasn’t China traditionally called ‘The Middle Kingdom’ precisely because the Chinese regarded their country as being at the centre of the world? Chinese chauvinism is legendary and ancient. A British delegation in the 18th Century, looking to establish diplomatic, trade and military relations with China, was rebuffed by the Chinese court. The Chinese offoicals took the view that barbarians couldn’t possibly have anything that the Emperor was in need of! The lesson is that all countries think well of themselves, sometimes too well; the US is no exception and is not to be blamed on that score.

    @ Xie Ming: by what right does China presume to tell another nation, Tibet, what to do, except by the right of the bully and rapist to force his will on another? (Incidentally, the EU and NATO in Serbia, and the US in Iraq and Afghanistan are as much bullies and political rapists as China in Tibet).

    But on the main question: no there, shouldn’t be a journalistic boycott. Western journalists are already burdened with an inflated sense of their own importance. It would just minister to their vanity if they were to act as if a boycott would bring a great power like China to her senses over Tibet. Their business is to report the news not to run away from it. Let them get on with their jobs and leave boycotts to those better placed to apply them (governments and consumers).

    In passing, what does it say about the Chinese contributors to this forum that not one of them seems capable of taking a critical view of China – or rather, of the dictatorship that owns and runs China? It can’t just be a matter of all of their minds having been shaped by the Chinese state education system. I think it’s more basic and atavistic than that: ethnic solidarity, race-loyalty, and hostility to what they see as a rival race (substitute ‘White world’ and ‘Whites’ for ‘West’ and ‘Westerners’ in certain posts and you’ll see what I mean). It’s the same motivation we see at work when Africans blog to praise Robert Mugabe and to attack ‘Westerners’. It’s the same mind-set at work when Muslims all write from the same script: the Western world is responsible for everything that goes wrong in the Middle Eastern and Arab worlds, and our co-religionists in Sudan, Pakistan and Iraq are never to blame, however many innocents they blow up or machine-gun. The only civilisation to have outgrown this narrow and dangerous tribal mindset is that of the West, the only part of the world that acknowledges a duty to examine and if necessary criticise itself. A unique and uniquely valuable civilisation for many reasons,but most of all for that one.

  34. 34 Kenneth
    March 26, 2008 at 18:10

    Xie Ming wrote:

    “To reiterate:

    What rationale causes us to believe that our values are better or more appropriate to another nation?

    What rationale causes us to believe that we should force our values on other nations?”

    The mighty mirror of truth now turns upon you, Xie Ming. The Chinese army has killed thousands and thousands of buddhist monks in Tibet since their invasion in 1950, while the government propaganda machine denounced their religion and blamed the monks for practicing their 2,500 year old tradition of studying the path of peace, compassion, and kindness.

    Wouldn’t you agree that one government killing the people of another country because they have different beliefs is pretty lame? If you think that it’s a bad thing for people from any outside country to even comment on the actions that China takes, I’m sure you must agree.

    Except, of course, if you really do believe your claim that Tibet is and has been more than an occupied territory of China. You have earlier called out for a history lesson about Tibet here on this blog. I’m not a historian, but I have read that Tibet was invaded 800 years ago, not by the Chinese, as you claim, but by the same Mongolian Kahns that kicked butt all over Beijing and the rest of China, and I don’t think that Chinese people appreciated being conquered and subjugated at that time either. The Kahns were Buddhists and they liked the Tibetans. They became protectors of the Tibetans, protecting them from, guess who? Yup. The Chinese!

    The Tibetans have never been Chinese, and never will. They are an independent people with a long and proud history of great cultural developments and civic accomplishments, including schools and health systems that were established hundreds of years before those of most western nations.

    The Chinese did visit Tibet in the early days. They sent a princess and a nice statue of the Buddha to Llasa in the 8th century. They later sent some of their teachers to Tibet to try and bring their views to that land. However, when their philosophy was shown to be full of holes in a debate with a visiting Indian scholar, the Chinese retreated from Tibet in shame. Maybe there are still sore feelings about losing the great debate of Samye? China should stop interfering with the internal affairs of other countries. They have no right to do that. Especially killing monks. Really, it doesn’t get much lamer than that.

  35. 35 Chen
    March 26, 2008 at 18:21

    I am happy to agree that the boycott is not a humiliation to China, but a great honor to the Chinese people. I am sure that the Chinese people will take this honor to be boycotted by “the West” very well, with greater understanding of the humanities of the West, a changed attitude towards Tibet, and doubled desire to embrace the Western civilization and politics. “If they don’t, they are not as smart as everyone else thinks they are.”
    I also agree that name “Redskins” is not degrading term for the Native Americans, but a word full of love and compassion. The Indians should have understood the true meaning of the word, but since they haven’t, they are not as smart as the rest of Americans.
    I would also agree that the “separate by equal” was good for African Americans, since some Americans think so. If the blacks do not feel that way, well, they are not smart anyway.
    How the Chinese people will feel about the boycott is entired depedent on how “the West” feels about it. As long as the boycotting people don’t think it is a humuliation to China, case is closed.

    Very true: the Chinese are insecure of foreign criticism. You are right on the spot. You have nailed it. I think Americans are more secure in this sense — They bombed the central TV station in Belgrad and killed all the journalists working in the building, because the station was “spreading anti-American propaganda.” That bombing must have made the American even feel more secure than they did before. Americans have other reasons to be secure – since they have secret agencies to “promote the positive image of the US” abroad?

    Steve, this comment is not intended to be sarcastic – the reality makes it so.

  36. 36 Will Rhodes
    March 26, 2008 at 19:08

    Thanks for the direct reply, Mark – I certainly cannot see why it would be an impediment on any guidelines – I asked a question of an individual and you answered as that individual. And I thank you for that.

    I know your love for the Olympics – I have watched them for as long as possible and listened on the odd occasion when I could not get to a TV, highlights as well.

    I think that what we all want is to ask journalists to ask themselves some internal questions as to why they are reporting a story in such a way. That, in my opinion, makes for a better reporter/journalist. Some, again in my own opinion, have become career journalists who simply write to meet a deadline rather than being as questioning of subject as they should be. We as the Joe public out there rely on you and your colleagues asking the questions we cannot – you and they have a pedestal by which to gain access to those we can only read about and see on the news.

    If you are free to roam as you see fit, and that is a big if, I hope that you can bring more to us than what I can only see the Chinese government allowing you to do, which will be roam as free as you like but it must only be within the village and reporting about the Athletes or the sport concerned. I am just cynical that way.

    I look forward to hearing from the BBC – we have CBC to thank for our coverage, while it won’t be as good at the Beeb – I am sure it will be adequate because I can keep up with the British team on the BBC website.

  37. 37 Chen
    March 26, 2008 at 19:22

    Kenneth, thank you for the response. It was very nice to have a dialogue.
    To clarify my points:
    I didn’t doubt that there were people in America who opposed the war before it started. I was one of them. What I doubted is that “the half of America,” not just the would have opposed had the war in Iraq gone well. I tend to think that if there was a draft, then the opposition would be greater.
    I am sure there are good people who want to stop the killing of Iraqis by the occupying troops. But my question is: could a foreign country send its troops to bomb America to stop America’s aggression in Iraq just as NATO bombed Serbia to stop them from killing Albanians? I don’t think you will support this idea no matter how much you oppose the Iraq war? If so, why?
    As for the possibly consequences of boycott, I was telling from my understanding and experience of the Chinese culture and people. You may think otherwise from your understanding and knowledge of the culture and people. My point was — Without taking account of the reactions from local people, it is a dangerous endeavor. I assume we don’t have disagreement here.
    You said “It is not the messengers who are guilty or who would cause any humiliation, but the shame of the guilty parties themselves. If the Chinese government doesn’t like bad press, they should stop generating it, right?” Right, but only if your presumptions are correct. Your presumptions here are that the Chinese government is guilty, and it is the Chinese government who has been generating bad press. I dare to say that majority of Chinese people will disagree. It takes a time and efforts to study the history of Tibet and China to have some understanding of the issue, such as whether Tibet was a sovereign country before 1959. You may think something does not need proof, but I am afraid truth is something that requires our own efforts to find out, and not something being repeated many times by “free media.”

  38. 38 Xie_Ming
    March 26, 2008 at 19:47


    Your personality analysis is right on.

    I have a tendency to be too abstract and thus apologize for being overly explicit for those who have not grasped the argument.

    Now, being very explicit:

    The pounding of other cultures or nations may reflect a projection of dissatisfaction with one’s own local situation or psyche.

    If one can rationally justify his desire to change another culture’s values, etc., he should explicitly justify his rationale. In the utterly practical view of Chen (above), he should also show the practical effect of what he advocates. [This has not yet been done].

    As to my adored WHYS: today’s journalists have the unstated premise that their function is to influence and tabulate “popular opinion”. Instead, it should be to inform.

    From these WHYS threads, it is painfully obvious that no one has a clue as to the history of Tibet vis a vis China. If the news function of the BBC fails in this responsiblity, it is again tabulating and not informing.

  39. 39 George USA
    March 26, 2008 at 20:00


    I fully agree with you absolutely no boycott of news coverage is called for.

    What China is doing to herself in the eyes of the world is China’s doing, not the rest of the world’s.

    More news coverage is appropriate, not less.

    It warrants the most complete coverage possible.

    This is both entertaining and instructive for everyone on earth to watch.

    I refer you to the “Uncle Remus Stories”, “Tar Baby” in particular.

    ‘The more B’er Bear hit tar baby, the more stuck he got.’

    It is a timeless children’s tail, that sums up China’s plight at her own hands.

    China is heaping shame, disgrace, and dishonor on her own head.

    Your defense of these self inflicted wounds, please forgive me, only make it funnier.

    If you want to help China.

    Get a DVD of the Walt Disney presentation of “Tar Baby”.

    Rush it to the Chinese leadership.

    They will either see it the break out laughing, and say “Ok, that is what is going on, now how do we get out of it.”,


    they will sit fuming in silence, ignore it, and keep hitting tar baby.

  40. 41 Chen
    March 27, 2008 at 13:11

    George, I will definitely follow your advice. I will “Get a DVD of the Walt Disney presentation of “Tar Baby” and “Rush it to the Chinese leadership.” At the same time, I will also send a copy to our dear leader G.W. Bush, so he can “either see it the break out laughing, and say “Ok, that is what is going on, now how do we get out of it.” Wait — I bet you must have already done that, if you really want to help America. Haven’t you?

    “China is heaping shame, disgrace, and dishonor on her own head. Your defense of these self inflicted wounds, please forgive me, only make it funnier.” –I think I was suggesting journalists to not to boycott, but to go to China to uncover the “wounds?” If encourage the search of truth is a “defense” in your opinion, it certainly makes it as “funnier” as as “sadder.”

  41. 42 Selena
    March 27, 2008 at 14:19

    What would we hope to achieve with a journalistic boycott? To tell the truth, what do we really, truly know about human rights in China? Who here has spent any time in China? Can China’s human rights be worse than locking up a teenage boy in Guantanamo Bay for six years without recourse to a trial?

    Well, you might think this is only one boy and the action was necessary for national security. Couldn’t China make the same argument… national security? And we are talking about individual rights, presumably, so isn’t one boy the same a million individual boys?

    We think the Chinese are being manipulated by their government. There is probably no doubt about that, for we, too, are fed a steady diet of propaganda. Is there a magic formula for separating what is true from what is false? Of course not!

    We are all slaves to our upbringing. Do we really feel right enough about our morals and values to tell the Chinese people we have the answers? If so, we really need to remove some big logs from our eyes.

    We continue to build our glass houses in the West from the chaos of Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan etc. We had better be careful lest others start throwing stones at our comfortable houses.

    Surely, it would be better if reporters went to China and looked with unbiased eyes at the culture. Perhaps one or two them might give us another perspective of China and ourselves

  42. 43 Chen
    March 27, 2008 at 16:07

    My final irrelevant thoughts on journalism –very cynical thoughts.
    I don’t think journalists as a group (there are exceptions, always), even in the “free media”, are more noble, more courageous, more moral than other professions. Like many of us, they are just salesmen, and they do it not for free, but for profit. Their commodities are news. So they have to sell what sells well to their clients. They have to look for something that fit their clients’ taste.
    Economics is the best censorship. If the public is full of anger, fear, and revenge after being attacked, they will feed them with “compelling” stories about immediate danger and the need to go offensive. If the public turns sour because the war causes too many casualties and money, then the “main stream” media start Bush bashing. The media is trying to predict what the public wants to hear, and then give them the satisfaction. Bill Mayr was fired from ABC because he suggested “that the US was being cowardly dropping bombs from high altitude.” Phil Donahue was fired from MSNBC because he dared to invite anti-war voices to his show. The “Pubic” didn’t want to hear that — they wanted to hear “patriotic” voices. If the public didn’t like that, then there would be no advertising money – sorry Bill and Phil. Money silences dissenting voices more effectively, bloodlessly, and tracelessly then any clumsy state sponsored censorship can ever achieve. Why, because we believe money-based censorship is “natural.” I suspect for this “natural” reason many “free” journalists have conscious or unconscious “self-censorship” inside them. After all, they are humans too, and they have to eat.

    I am afraid that most of journalists are more concerned about finding news than about finding truth.

  43. 44 Chen
    March 27, 2008 at 18:00

    Victor: thanks for the comment on the “Middle Kingdom.” I recently read a book about Lord Macartney’s embassy to China. It was fascinating and very educational.
    I think you’ve got half of my point: When China thought it was the center of universe and ignored other countries and cultures, it fell into rabbles. What happens when US is taking similar attitude? I was not blaming the US (it would be easy but useless) I was crying warnings.

  44. 45 Kenneth
    March 28, 2008 at 19:59


    I share your view that reporters are the last people who should consider a boycott, nor do I think that athletes should boycott their pinnacle event. I think boycotts are most meaningful when they are effective symbolically, and for that, world leaders involved in the opening ceremonies would be first in line to make a meaningful stand.

    I also think you’re correct that race chauvanism plays a prominent role in forming or transforming the opinions of otherwise critical thinkers. Really, whether it’s race or culture or religion or country, it seems to be an attitude of “my team vs. your team”, which is a serious obstacle to resolving any issues, especially political issues.

    I don’t, however, agree with your generalization that “the WEST” is more mature regarding these matters. Here in the US, one doesn’t need to look far to find racist attitudes about people from other countries, and strong manifestations of white supremacist attitudes and policies couched as pragmatic economic protection and border control. Perhaps there is a more established tradition of diverse ideas being discussed by diverse voices among all of those people who happen to own media access. Universities also have been a longstanding sanctuary, though not perfectly pure or free of fault, for critical expression of thought. However, embracing plurality is by no means exclusive to the west. Many ancient cultures and their ruins have left evidence of diverse cultures coexisting peacefully and relatively equally, and certainly today there is great openness expressed by people across the globe. Of course there are stubborn patriots out there. Look at France! But there are also numerous examples of citizens and leaders taking action to build bridges between cultures, and to critically examine the abuses and tragedies of the past.

    For example regarding Tibet, the Dalai Lama has freely admitted that their history is not pure or perfect, and that earlier isolationism has been counterproductive. As with most countries, Tibet emerged from early tribal times when there were often feuds with neighboring tribes that resulted in tragically violent attacks. Like most other countries, they have come a long way since then, establishing public institutions such as schools and hospitals, and protecting the rights of those who are not men of the majority race.

    It is absolutely tragic and horrible that rioters in Llasa have attacked the shops and institutions of recent immigrants, and by no means is this supported by the Dalai Lama nor the Buddhist monks. China is still asserting (NPR interview on 3/26 with Chinese ambassador to the US) that the Dalai Lama is planning and coordinating violent attacks, which is unbelievably ludicrous on the surface, but more deeply reveals a very disturbing strategy on the part of Chinese leadership to de-legitimize Tibet’s rightful ruler and perhaps set the stage for further aggression against him. I certainly hope that is not the case, but it closely resembles what the US does right before launching an attack on another country: fabricate lies. Weapons of Mass Deception.

    I hope that China sees the opportunity to show a good face to the world by engaging in meaningful dialogue with Tibetan leaders. I fear that any other path will result in unnecessary suffering for all parties involved. The Dalai Lama has extended reasonable alternatives to independence for Tibet, doing all that can be done to allow China the graceful opportunity to have what they want (to call Tibet and its borders “Chinese”), while allowing the Tibetans to live their lives with peace and freedom to worship. Make Tibet a nature preserve. Declare it an autonomous zone of peace. Just let the Tibetan people have a little room to be themselves. Isn’t that something that everyone should be able to have, as long as they’re not aggressively interfering with the rights of others to do the same?

  45. 46 Chen
    March 31, 2008 at 18:50

    Victor, you raised a very interesting question: why all the Chinese, Africans, Muslims have responded negatively to the criticism from the West?
    You seem to believe the reason is “ethnic solidarity, race-loyalty, and hostility to what they see as a rival race (substitute ‘White world’ and ‘Whites’ for ‘West’ and ‘Westerners’ in certain posts and you’ll see what I mean).” Well, you missed one thing that all the Chinese, Africans, Muslims, Native Americans and other nations share in common in their history besides their inferiority: the killing, genocide, abuse, insult, and other atrocities they suffered from the “self-examining, unique, and uniquely valuable civilization” you belong to. They have experienced what the unique mindset of the West meant on their own land and skin. If the past is any guidance, they have every reason to doubt, distrust, and reject the “friendly criticism” from the West.
    Your claim that “The only civilisation to have outgrown this narrow and dangerous tribal mindset is that of the West.” Those words illustrate most eloquently how far the mindset of the West has “outgrown this narrow and dangerous tribal mindset.” You certainly know that the claim of superiority of the West is not something new: Didn’t West colonize Africa to promote its superior civilization ? Didn’t European genocide Native Americans, destroyed their culture, and robbed their gold for the reason to “bring Civilization and Christianity” to them? Didn’t Asian peoples enjoy the taste of superior Western mindset in the hands of their European masters and occupiers? Yes in deed, if we substitute “West, Western Civilization, Whites, Westerners,” with the word “white race” in all the history books as well as in your comments, we definitely can see what you meant by “race-loyalty.”
    If your Western mindset truly “acknowledges a duty to examine and if necessary criticise itself,” it should continue examining and criticizing itself until it can treat other cultures and civilization equally before moving on to “examining and criticizing” others. Luckly, the “uniqueness” of the Western mindset includes a superior characteristic: the quick forgetfulness and forgiveness of its own past and present. Nowadays, the Western mindset seems quite busy examining others.

  46. 47 Chen
    April 1, 2008 at 18:20

    A friend just suggested me a saying from Thomas Jefferson: “If a nation expect to be ignorant and free… it expects what never was and never will.”

    Unfortunately, some people seem to quite confident that their ignorance does not matter since they live in a “free society.”
    Here is something that the “free media” never talks about, but anyone who is truly interested in the destiny of people of Tibet may want to read.

  47. 48 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 8, 2008 at 23:46

    What will a journalistic boycott will do?

    Dennis ~~Madrid, United States of America

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