The day after the deadline and people here in China are talking about the protests, both my Laowai homies and my Chinese homies. It is safe to say that foreigners and Chinese disagree 100% on the Tibet issue.
An article in the NYT today talks about the long simmering hatred that has finally boiled over. This is something the Chinese have no understanding of. No toleration of any such criticism. I would say it is just intellectual and could be dealt with in a discussion, but Chinese are very passionate about the issue and refuse to believe that the same government they routinely harangue for being overtly, arrogantly corrupt could possibly be oppressing dirty stinking backward half-barbarians in the mountains.
It is also difficult for Chinese to believe that racism or a deep condescending sense of superiority might have something to do with it, but for Tibetans, it is a matter of course. When they speak with Chinese, they get complimented on their excellent language skills, when they achieve, they are a “particularly clever little Tibetan” and their religion — the cornerstone of life in a nation still spiritual after all these years — is co-opted and corrupted by the Chinese, who themselves are still searching for a God to replace the Emperor, Communism and now Cash-Money.
For the Chinese, the Tibetans are rowdy, ungrateful splittists, led by a devious and sinister fake monk with a strong case of megalomania. A couple articles in the Asia Times — although not as visceral as these Xinhua stories — hint that the Dalai Lama is a scallywag at heart. Their history books teach that Tibet was always part of China and loved it. The arrival of this monk and his political brand of Buddhism spoiled centuries of brotherhood and ruined the efforts of the Communist Party to develop and liberate the Tibetan people.
Chinese believe as strongly as we do in their convictions. There is no discussion. Naturally, there exists a counter-culture here that disagrees with the mainstream views on Tibet, but the counter-culture will never betray China for the sake of Tibetans. They might criticize from a safe distance or take trips to the affected areas to do documentary film work and such, but there is no movement for Tibet in China that crosses ethnic boundaries. And there is a knee jerk reaction to a foreigner saying anything about China.
The Tibetans are alone on this one. All they got here are some Laowai like me, writing perhaps, maybe arguing passionately in a bar. We endanger the movement as much as we give it life and hope. If I am seen with a Tibetan in the next few days, publicly, that guy might just be hauled in for questioning, or worse. At the same time, the questions he may have answered could lead to a story that will reach a few thousand people.
The deadline has come and gone and Chengdu is quiet. Soldiers came to patrol the underground bars last night to see if we was up to no good. I scowled at em and thought up lines to write.
When i fight for my freedom one day, will there be cameras? Will I yell to them to pick up a gun, or stop to give an interview?