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The Collegian News Blog

The Tibet debate

Thursday, April 3, 2008

After publishing an article covering a local reaction to the unrest in Tibet, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian received a fair amount of ire from students with connections to China who felt the reporter had misinterpreted the events across the Pacific from Amherst. Here is a sampling of the e-mails we received in the news section:

"Free Tibet -- they know not what they doWhenever people start to talk about “Free Tibet” in the United States, I am always stunned by the ignorance that they are so eager to show about the subject of their monologue. Your Monday (March 31) news article Pamela Lawn on Tibet is just another piece in that line. Apparently, some people just love to kid themselves by acting as if Tibet had been a “free” and “peaceful” place before 1950. No one seems to care that Dalai Lama had been the leader of a slave system before he left Tibet, under whose “leadership” 5% of the Tibetan population had absolute control over 100% of the resources, while the rest 95% lived in poverty and serfdom, and there had been no freedom of religion (come on, there was only one religion, what do you want me to say?), no separation between the religious and political power(or shall I say between the Church and the State?), and no access to education for the people. Now, poor Tibetans, they cannot represent themselves, they must be represented. But, while taking the moral high ground by trying to represent the Tibetans in the self-claimed righteous cause of “Free Tibet,” you might want to ask yourself whether you know what life has been like for Tibetans in the past and at present, whether you know anything about the changes that has happened to people’s life in general in China? Do you really know, or do you simply not care?Some probably would think that I have been brainwashed by the Communist government in China. Well, the apparently brain-washed one seems to have access to more diverse and accurate information about Tibet then citizensof “the free world.” In the case of this protest on March 14 (by the way, show some professionalism by getting the dates correct), what I have seen here in the U.S. is simply horrible journalism. When mainstream media like CNN and NewYork Times talk about the violence of Chinese police against “peaceful” Tibetan protesters, they couldn’t even show the right pictures and the right videos – either pictures were cropped to skip details that might favor the Chinese government, or the pictures and videos shown were not even taken in China but in Nipal or India (one of the numerous examples of such intentional distortion and manipulation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13fz9HIrJpQ). Obviously, most people are simply assuming that the violence and deaths were caused by the Chinese police. I mean, give me a break, this is a digital age, the lack of access to Tibet by foreign reporters does not mean the lack of evidence sent out from within Tibet, by Chinese, Tibetans, or foreign tourists((http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhjCX4KIz4Q ). And – I can’t believe I’m saying this – the rejection of foreign journalists by the Chinese government does not mean that you should sacrifice journalist conscience and simply makeup stories. I understand that this is a free country where people have the right to express themselves, and I have no intention to shut anyone up. All I’m saying is, you are having a college education, please take it seriously – do some research on Tibet, learn its history, use your brain, and stop kidding yourself, or your readers like me. Sincerely yours,

--Zixu(George) Liu"

"Recently, I read an article about Tibet in your 3/31 daily collegian. I am very surprised about what you wrote on the report. After finishing the whole news, I really want to ask you: Do you really know what happens in Tibet? If you just obtain the information from you local media, I think that one old Chinese aphorism may be useful for you: "listen to both sides and you will be enlightened; heed only one side and you will be benighted". The whole Tibetan violence is caused by several rioters, not by the Chinese Government. Dalai Lama should take the whole responsibility for it, who always says that they will use peaceful method, not force. Accurately, the riot in Lhasa this time proves that he is just a rabble rouser and a political liar who just always some beautiful things and do some dirty things below the table. A handful of Tibetan, who are stirred up, first attached the innocent peoples and rape the shops. That is why the Chinese Government sent the policeman to army to stop the chaos."

"Dear editor:

I am writing to response to the news about Tibet that appeared on yourpaper on 3/31/2008. I am very disappointed that your report lack a balanced view of what happened in Lhasa during the past several weeks. It was nothing wrong in putting out a riot that caused enormous destruction in the city, as described by reports from Economist and other eye witness reports from other sources. I believe your paper has set a bad example of journalism that you reported the event happened in Lhasa in a way to support your presumed political view. Namely everything that happened between government and citizen are related to human right. China has a political system and governing ideology that is vastly different from the western counterpart. Therefore before rushing to interpret every event according to modern western views, which is doom to fail to understand the rest of the world fairly, please take time to gather witness reports from other sources instead of "Free Tibet" groups, such as tourists, reporters that happened to be there and citizens that are not related to activist groups, as well as unprocessed photos. Yes, professionalism takes time, and writing a balanced report requires a lot of hard works. But I believe it would ultimately improve the quality of your paper and benefit the readers.


Chiu Tai Andrew Wong"

How did we do covering the events in Tibet from a local angle? Let us know by sounding off below.
posted by Derrick Perkins, 5:25 PM


Thanks for the post in this topic. It was very nice to read. I read all about this post. Very helpful. Thanks you.


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The intent of this blog is to make available news and information that affects the University of Massachusetts community in a reliable manner, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. While encouraging the public to voice their own concerns, opinions and responses, the Daily Collegian asks that all commentators act civilly and professionally, and post with respect to one another and Collegian staff. Thank you.

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