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China’s Defame Propaganda On Tibet A Verbal Blast From The Past

Posted by Author on April 17, 2008

AFP, Apr. 17, 2008-

BEIJING (AFP) — As it fights back against foreign criticism of its Tibet policies, China has at times appeared to have dusted off one of its propaganda manuals from the Cultural Revolution.

Through its state-controlled media, China has called US Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi “disgusting” and “detested”, while the Dalai Lama has been branded a lying “wolf with the face of a human and the heart of a beast”.

China’s communist rulers have in recent years been at pains to portray themselves as responsible and moderate, overseeing the nation’s peaceful rise on the world stage as it prepares to host the Beijing Olympics this year.

But China’s fierce push-back over criticism of its Tibet crackdown and human rights record illustrates that decades-old Communist propaganda habits are hard to break, experts said.

“I believe the Chinese people and leaders had been hoping so much for a successful Olympics that they are frustrated and angry at the foreign responses,” said Ezra Vogel, an Asia expert at Harvard University.

Vogel said that although those in the foreign ministry would be aware of the problems of using such fiery language, the propaganda and other arms of the Chinese government still had no qualms with using old-style rhetoric.

“The response does not reflect the advice that would have been given by the cosmopolitan, wise leaders in (the foreign ministry) and elsewhere who have a subtle understanding of what is needed to get foreign understanding,” he said.

It has been years since China has employed such strong language, and recalls over-the-top political invective of the past.

During the upheaval of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, purged political leaders such as Deng Xiaoping were reviled as “traitors”, “scabs” and “running dogs of capitalism.”

When Hong Kong’s former British colonial governor Chris Patten introduced democratic reforms before the territory’s return to China in 1997, he was derided as “the whore of the East” and a “criminal who would be condemned for a thousand generations.”

Former Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui, who infuriated China with moves seen as leaning towards independence for the China-claimed island, was branded the “No.1 scum” and a “deformed test-tube baby conceived in the political laboratory of hostile anti-China forces.”

Although not quite as colourful, the official Xinhua news agency and other state-controlled media have in recent weeks put out near daily verbal attacks that, true to Cultural Revolution norms, have singled out targets for scorn.

Foremost is the Dalai Lama, whom China claims orchestrated widespread rioting across the Tibetan Plateau last month, despite his denials.

The state-controlled Tibet Daily has called him “a wolf who has the face of a human but the heart of a beast”, and quoted leaders calling for a “people’s war” against his sympathisers.

Over the weekend, Xinhua called US House Speaker Pelosi, an outspoken critic of the Tibet crackdown, “disgusting.”

“How can such an irresponsible political figure not be detested by all the Chinese people?” Xinhua asked.

Meanwhile, those seen as opposing the Chinese government — whether they be Tibetans, the Western media or Taiwanese hoping for independence — are almost inevitably told they are “doomed to fail”.

Overseas protests against China’s policies in Tibet have provoked the official vitriol by meddling in an issue certain to inflame Chinese nationalism, said Hu Xingdou, a lecturer at Beijing Institute of Technology.

“But the Chinese government has its faults, too. Had we allowed (foreign) journalists into Tibet in the first place, they wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that we have something to hide,” Hu said.

“And Chinese media should be more rational, polite, and reasonable.”

Although the rhetoric may play well to a domestic audience, Vogel said such harsh language could impact on China’s reputation overseas.

“(China) risks further responses over the Olympics and a general rise in foreign concern about the peaceful rise of China,” he said.

Originla report from AFP: China’s propaganda on Tibet a verbal blast from the past

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