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Thread: China seeks control through openness

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    China seeks control through openness

    BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China seeks control through openness

    "Let the facts speak for themselves," was the unusual statement of intent from Xinjiang regional government official Li Wanhui after Sunday's violence in Urumqi that officials say left 156 people dead.

    It was unusual because China is a country where the authorities like to exert tight control over what its people read, watch or listen to.

    Yet here was a local official suggesting they would help journalists to cover one of the most serious incidents of ethnic unrest in the country's history.

    Last year, when there were riots in Tibet, the whole region was sealed off. Foreign journalists were prevented from going there.

    For two days the Chinese released no pictures of what had gone on there.

    Different tactic

    It is clear China learnt lessons from its suppression of the violence in Tibet and the perception it created that it had something to hide by trying to restrict the information that came out.

    This time we have seen a different tactic - a clever and effective effort to shape the story to fit its own agenda, using the kind of techniques familiar to any major PR firm anywhere in the world.
    So, is China becoming more open, or is the government using media to get the message out to the world that this is not a separatist movement, but a clahing of ethinic groups? Thoughts?

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    Re: China seeks control through openness

    Two things...

    First of all, there is no "openness", as journalists were suppressed on sight when they tried to conduct their own independent investigation of what happened in Xinjiang. Just because the Chinese government is holding PR conferences and giving the foreign media access to their details does not mean that they are representing the truth.

    Secondly, the issues in Xinjiang are complex enough that the government can subjectify the issue by focusing in on the ethnic factor. That is definitely one aspect of what is going on in Xinjiang, but the rapid colonization of Xinjiang while suppressing the local culture and human rights is just as important.

    If they value "openness" then they should also value dialogue about the many sources of the unrest.

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    Re: China seeks control through openness

    Quote Originally Posted by Orius View Post
    Two things...

    First of all, there is no "openness", as journalists were suppressed on sight when they tried to conduct their own independent investigation of what happened in Xinjiang. Just because the Chinese government is holding PR conferences and giving the foreign media access to their details does not mean that they are representing the truth.

    Secondly, the issues in Xinjiang are complex enough that the government can subjectify the issue by focusing in on the ethnic factor. That is definitely one aspect of what is going on in Xinjiang, but the rapid colonization of Xinjiang while suppressing the local culture and human rights is just as important.

    If they value "openness" then they should also value dialogue about the many sources of the unrest.
    So then, I take that your point is that this is nothing but a propaganda campaign being used to make China appear more open to foreign media, than they did during the Tibet conflict.

    I think you are right in many of your comments. I am not familiar with all of the details in Xinjiang, other than what has been in the press, but from your earlier postings on the subject, I would have to agree that there has been total suppression of any information regarding rapid colonization of the Han in the region, or the suppression of the local culture.

    In speaking with a Chinese colleague that I work with, he asserted that the Beijing government has actually became less oppressive on the other ethnic cultures in China as opposed to prior decades. Of course he is from the East coast of China, and Han himself, but how does one argue to such people that the opposite is actually true? He in no way feels that the government is trying erase such cultures in China.

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    Re: China seeks control through openness

    This time we have seen a different tactic - a clever and effective effort to shape the story to fit its own agenda, using the kind of techniques familiar to any major PR firm anywhere in the world.
    Probably correct.
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    Re: China seeks control through openness

    Quote Originally Posted by tlmorg02 View Post
    BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China seeks control through openness



    So, is China becoming more open, or is the government using media to get the message out to the world that this is not a separatist movement, but a clahing of ethinic groups? Thoughts?
    I don't necessarily think they've "learned a lesson" from their coverage of Tibet...I just think they can afford to be more open regarding media coverage of Xinjiang.

    For one thing, the government is not entirely in the wrong here. The protesters truly WERE rioting and being violent, and even most democracies would've arrested a lot of them. Second of all, the Chinese government knows that the Han majority isn't going to sympathize with Uighurs who are attacking Han businesses, so why not just let the media report it honestly?

    In Tibet, on the other hand, the government was cracking down on peaceful protesters who were advocating an actual cause. Therefore the government didn't want to look bad in front of the world when they crushed the protests...and kept the media out.

    China is a dictatorship, but it isn't totalitarian. It doesn't just censor for censorship's sake. If it can get the job done by telling the truth, it will do so. Remember, China is Lawful Neutral, not Lawful Evil.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 07-09-09 at 09:45 PM.
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    Re: China seeks control through openness

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    I don't necessarily think they've "learned a lesson" from their coverage of Tibet...I just think they can afford to be more open regarding media coverage of Xinjiang.

    For one thing, the government is not entirely in the wrong here. The protesters truly WERE rioting and being violent, and even most democracies would've arrested a lot of them. Second of all, the Chinese government knows that the Han majority isn't going to sympathize with Uighurs who are attacking Han businesses, so why not just let the media report it honestly?

    In Tibet, on the other hand, the government was cracking down on peaceful protesters who were advocating an actual cause. Therefore the government didn't want to look bad in front of the media when they crushed the protests.
    I would have agreed with you before this evening, when I heard the NPR piece on Xinjiang. Here it is, and it is the first I have heard of the assertions that Orius has been making regarding the attempt at wiping-out the Uigher culture.

    China Pins Violence On Uighur Activist In D.C. : NPR

    China Pins Violence On Uighur Activist In D.C.
    by Frank Langfitt

    Stephen J. Boitano
    Rebiya Kadeer (center) speaks at a Uighur protest at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. AP

    Morning Edition, July 9, 2009 · When violence erupted in western China on Sunday, the Chinese government blamed someone who wasn't even there.

    As an anchor on state-controlled China Central Television put it: "Initial investigations show the violence was masterminded by the separatist World Uighur Congress, led by Rebiya Kadeer."

    Before Beijing branded Kadeer a public enemy, she was a business tycoon in western China. After criticizing the government's treatment of the ethnic Uighur minority, Kadeer spent more than five years in prison.

    Beijing released Kadeer from prison early, in 2005. At 62, the diminutive mother of 11 shows no sign of letting up. In recent days, Kadeer has been in constant media interviews, advocating for the rights of Uighurs — just as she used to back home in China.

    Kadeer now operates out of a tiny office in Washington, D.C., just across from the White House. With a handful of staff, she says she fights for the freedom of her fellow Uighurs — thousands of miles away in China's sprawling northwest.

    Kadeer says the Chinese government is flooding her homeland with ethnic Han Chinese, who are taking the best jobs and overwhelming Uighur culture.

    "This is the Chinese intention— to destroy Uighur culture," she says. "And in addition to destroying the Uighur culture, they are now killing Uighurs."
    Here's a sample, but you guys should read the whole thing, it is very disturbing.

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    Re: China seeks control through openness

    What China has done here is in a way brilliant. By claiming to be more open and willing to let journalists from all over come in to the area then controlling their every move, what they have done as evidenced on this debate page so far, the main focus of discussion is not to try find the truth behind the violence but to argue over whether or not the openness is real, and shows a new direction or not. It's classic political obfuscation which is to make obscure or unclear the focus of the topic at hand.
    China is not changing without a major revolution that ousts and does away with the ruling class of Communists who by the way live the good life more in line with western standards than the Communist eastern ones they would have the outside world believe. It was the same in the Soviet Union from start to finish the leaders paint a picture for their own peoples consumption and the rest of the world while they live like royalty. As long as enough people are either fooled into believing the lies from the top nothing will ever change. We are headed for a similar fate because some would rather believe the lies they are being told rather than face the truth and the facts that are all around them. They even continue to support the liars blindly.
    Last edited by Councilman; 07-09-09 at 10:38 PM.

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