Talking points for 6th May

The Burmese authorities now say that at least 15,000 people died in Saturday’s cyclone, and that many more are missing. Reports coming out of the country describe scenes of total devastation.


The situation is so bad that the Burmese goverment has opened the doors to international aid agencies. The authorities have traditionally been suspicious of any kind of outside intervention – will they now allow outsiders to do their work without restrictions? And could a catastrophe like this be a catalyst for a greater openness to the outside world, or even, in the long-term, for political change? (I’m really curious to find out whether natural disasters in other countries have had a softening effect on authoritarian regimes. Certainly the Asian tsunami of 2004 helped to end the separatist conflict in Aceh, Indonesia)

There’s an interesting report on the Global Voices website – apparently there has been a backlash against Chinese students in Korea, following the controversy over the Olympic torch relay. If you’re Chinese, do you notice a change in the way people of other nationalities are treating you? And whoever you are, do you think the torch protests have seriously damaged perceptions of China and its people? Or is it just a temporary hoo-ha that will die down as the excitement of the actual Olympics gather pace?

 The most comprehensive study of the link between breast-feeding and intelligence has concluded that breast-fed babies are brainier.  No one’s quite sure whether it’s the milk itself, or something about what breastfeeding means to the relationship between child and mother, but the findings support the conclusion of earlier studies. Some women are unable to breastfeed, but why do so many of those who can choose not to, given the evidence in its favour?  (Fewer than half of British mothers breastfeed their chidren for more than six weeks – the World Health Organisation recommends it for six months.) It’s a controversial and emotive debate – is it time to explore it in the programme?


11 Responses to “Talking points for 6th May”

  1. 1 Katharina in Ghent
    May 6, 2008 at 12:45

    It’s not the torch relay that’s hurting the Chinese, it’s their actions against the Tibetans! It’s like curing the symptoms while ignoring the cause.

  2. May 6, 2008 at 13:00

    FYI, this web site is blocked in China because it’s hosted at WordPress.com which is on the list of inaccessible sites. So you won’t get many answers from China-based users.

    Also, you should be more precise and say “Chinese nationals” or “ethnic Chinese” as saying just “Chinese” is imprecise and broad.

  3. 3 Joshua
    May 6, 2008 at 13:25

    Protests will eventually run out of wind. Chinese regime won’t budge on Tibet. If we want to send a message to the dictators in Beijing, then the next time we walk into Walmart, C&A, or any other retail outlet, let’s check the “Made In…” tag on the products we want. If it’s “Made In China”, let’s leave them on the shelf.
    When shiploads of Chinese goods begin to return unwanted to China, and the dollars stop rolling in, maybe we’ll get some movement on Tibet and human rights in general there.
    Plus, if we prefer products from emerging democracies in other parts of the world, we’ll all be doubly rewarded.

  4. 4 Knights
    May 6, 2008 at 15:16

    @ Joshua,

    ever wonder why the usa economy is on the downward slope eh??????? stop bashing others for your government’s Iraq war!!!!! your gov should know better that war does nothing except damage!

  5. 5 Ana Milena, Colombia
    May 6, 2008 at 15:22

    Hi! 🙂
    Wow! Interesting topics!
    In the fatal tragedy of Burma, there’s a moment to settle down priorities… I think, however, after the situation reaches a balance political issues will be the same thing they were before. After all, their position was so clear regarding relationships with other countries. 😉

    I think the topic of breast-feeding’s catchy, as well; lots of mom face this dilemma, whereas others just ignore the benefits of respecting this time, they just want to get rid of it!!


  6. May 6, 2008 at 16:11

    I have had this debate a few days ago with a friend who stated that the people who are protesting should fid another way. I asked what other way is going to give a voice to these people who have been trying to get the worlds attention for at least 20 years. Now people are giving them attention. How else would somebody recommend attention to their plight be brought?

    @ breastfeeding. Mothers who don’t breastfeed also means there is natural progression of giving less direct attention paid to the child. As soon as the child can hold the bottle the intimate attention is lessened. It really is a matter of how aware the parents are to this need for stimulus.

  7. 7 viola anderson
    May 6, 2008 at 17:40

    Why do so many mothers choose not to breast feed if there are no issues about the mother’s ability to do so? I can list a few:

    l. Concern about appearance

    2. Need to return to work

    3. Embarrassment

    4. Discouragement by others, such as friends

    5. Convenience–others can take care of child sometimes, freeing the mother to do other things

    6. Selfishness

    7. Disapproval of surrounding society of nursing in public, thus restricting mothers in “appropriate” places to nurse their infants

    8. Fear of failing

    9. Feeling that nursing an infant makes a woman more “animalistic”

  8. 8 Janet T
    May 6, 2008 at 19:07

    I think breast feeding is wonderful for the baby and the mother- it was a wonderful 3 months with both of my kids- I was very shy about it- I wouldn’t do it in public or around anyone but my husband with my first- with my second- although still not a public feeder, people I knew were fair game- after your first child I think you lose all modesty and expectations of privacy!
    I would highly recommned it to my daughter or future daughter-in-law when the time comes. The joy more than outweighed the “inconvenience”- and I stopped before I began to resent it.

  9. 9 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 7, 2008 at 01:02

    Viola Anderson and Janet T
    My sister breast fed her 3 children with no problems. The last one until he was 2 years old much to the annoyance of the health visitor. By then it was just a bit of comfort. On a train a while ago a lady wanted to breast feed her baby. I swapped seats with her to make it easier. Made me feel broody. That’s how it should be done and no bottles to sterilise! Mind you it is still the woman’s choice.

    Different topic. Have just heard Tony Blair will NOT be President of The European Union. I’m delighted. Looks like we’ll be ruled by Angela Merkel after all. Ah well so much for WW2. How do you all see The European Union? A load of unelected bureaucrats bleeding The European People of their money?

  10. 10 Chinese Australian
    May 7, 2008 at 04:24

    While I am an ethnic Chinese living abroad, I don’t feel that I’m being treated or seen differently. If anything, I noticed that the Westerners I met have mostly been understanding of our feelings. They see that opportunist as these protests may be, the Beijing Olympics is probably the best chance these pro-Tibet, or indeed any anti-Beijing (note I won’t call it “anti-Chinese”), forces will have in getting their voices heard. If the Iraq and Afghanistan wars drag on to 2012, we may well see similar anti-London protests happening at the next torch relay especially as it travels through the Arab world.

    While I don’t agree with the typically crude, nationalistic response of the Chinese leadership, I also doubt the effectiveness of the tactics, or even the sincerity, of some of these pro-Tibetan “activists”. It may be easy for them to launch spectacular stunts in the safety of the Free World, have they considered that by rousing the nationalistic feelings of the general Chinese population, their actions may well have put the Tibetans in even greater risks and potentially fatally jeopardised the progressively soft-line approach of Beijing toward minority people? One would say that the Tibetans now have much reduced freedom now than before the unrest.

    My advise to all Tibetan sympathisers is simple. Think of the consequence of the impact an angry Chinese population will have on the livelihood of the Tibetans. As one of the commentors in the “Happy Birthday Israel” blog said, “Israel exists… Time to accept reality.” The current reality is this: Tibet is currently part of China. Accept this fact and use this as a departing point. It would be far easier to “free” (subject to interpretation) the Tibetans when the common Chinese people are on-side and sympathetic, rather than angry and alienated.

  11. 11 John in Germany
    May 7, 2008 at 07:50

    There is nothing more relaxing than watching a nursing mother feeding,
    it is one of the most natural things in the whole world. Western civilisation has deemed it to become a moral problem, but mothers have the right to feed openly or in private. Saying this, no-one but no-one has the right to condemn a mother if she wishes to nurture her baby in the open.

    Has anyone heard of a feeding mother accusing someone, man or woman of being a voyeur.?.

    It what makes the world go round.

    John in Germany

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: