Archive for August 17th, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fourth “China Tibet Development Forum”: Come Sigh with Us

When this snow-covered highland which underwent so many changes is so frequently misrepresented or misunderstood, be it intentionally or unintentionally, more people should be helped to understand the real Tibet,

发生在这片雪域高原的沧桑巨变,一直承受着有意无意的曲解或误解,需要让更多人了解真实的西藏

People’s Daily suggested on Friday.

Having brought together nearly one-hundred guests from thirty countries and territories, the “2014 China Tibet Development Forum” reached a “Lhasa Consensus” that is rich in content and fruitful in its results. Admiring New Tibet’s economic and social development, the improvements in its people’s livelihood, cultural protection, ecological construction and other great achievements, the foreign guests, walking a bit of the snow-covered highland’s irreversible modern cultural development themselves, were all praise.

汇聚世界30多个国家和地区近百位嘉宾的 “2014·中国西藏发展论坛”,达成了内容丰富、成果丰硕的“拉萨共识”。赞赏新西藏在经济社会发展、民生改善、文化保护、生态建设等方面所取得的巨大 成就,赞叹雪域高原走上一条不可逆转的现代文明发展进步之路,是与会中外嘉宾的共同心声。

Myths about the old slave society and alarmist stories harbored and produced by some people meant that besides accelerating Tibet’s scientific development further, opening Tibet up to let more people know “the real Tibet” was necessary, People’s Daily wrote.

But there was a problem. News articles like People’s Daily’s seemed to suggest that every participant had shared the consensus – an impression that at least one participant rejected. Talking to the BBC through his mobile phone, Sir Bob Parker, a former mayor of Christchurch in New Zealand, said that he hadn’t endorsed the statement. While knowing that such a statement had been made, he hadn’t signed up. “I think a number of people who were there were a little surprised to hear about that statement.”

Another attendee, Lord Davidson of Glen Clova, a member of the House of Lords, was reportedly not available for an interview with the BBC.

According to Xinhua, the conference, the first “Tibet Development Forum” held in Tibet itself, was sponsored by the Information Office of China’s State Council and the regional government of Tibet. It was reportedly held on August 12 and 13.

The previous three forums had been held in Vienna in 2007, in Rome in 2009, and in Athens in 2011, according to Tibet Express, a Dharamsala-based website.

Let the world gasp in admiration, Xinhua suggested three years ago, itself all sighs of emotion.

It’s nice when you don’t need to do all the sighing alone – but apparently, some people still stubbornly refuse to join.

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Related

» Appeasing China, May 1, 2014
» Keep Calm, Feb 23, 2014
» Voice of Tibet, Feb 1, 2014
» Science in Action, Dec 26, 2010
» Thanking Sandrup’s lawyers, June 26, 2010
» Zap zap jé, Oct 16, 2009

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central” at the Crossroads

“Whatever Beijing may say in public now, I think it can hardly afford to ignore the voices of 780,000 Hong Kong people”, Anson Chan (陳方安生), former Chief Secretary of both Hong Kong’s colonial and SAR governments and now a leading democratic politician, told CNN earlier this summer. Occupy-Central with Love and Peace (佔領中環) had just held an unofficial referendum, in which 787,767 Hong Kongers voted in support of free elections for the city’s next leader.

But if the Alliance for the Protection of Universal Suffrage and against Occupy Central (保普选反占中大联盟, shorter: Alliance against Occupy) is right, there are also 1.2 million people in Hong Kong who want to be heard with a different message to the central government. The Alliance against Occupy reportedly claims to have collected 1.2 million signatures, exceeding the 800,000 votes Occupy’s democracy poll got in June. The alliance against Occupy Central is backed by much of the Hong Kong’s establishment, including chief executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英). And Beijing, or People’s Daily for that matter, certainly didn’t ignore the Alliance-against-Occupy demonstrations of Sunday afternoon.

Mainland Chinese media hadn’t ignored Occupy Central, but issued warning articles, sometimes using foreigners as warners against disruption. Reference News (参考消息), a Xinhua newsagency publication, quoted British media as saying that four global accounting firms in Hong Kong had published a statement opposing Hong Kong’s democracy movement (称“反对”香港的民主运动), and warning that extremist elements carried out street protests and disturbed business, their transnational customers could withdraw from Hong Kong.

Indeed, according to a Financial Times online newsarticle on June 27, the Hong Kong entities of EY, KPMG, Deloitte and PwC said the Occupy Central movement, which is calling for electoral reform in the former British colony, posed a threat to the territory’s rule of law.

Ostensibly, the Alliance against Occupy opposes civil disobedience or, more precisely, disruption of public life. On the other hand, universal suffrage (making Hong Kong’s Chief Executive an elected, rather than an appointed official) can mean a lot of different things – including the model that would preselect the candidates who would be allowed to run for office.

Those Hong Kongers who want real elections will rather trust Occupy Central. But those who put the economy (and therefore business interests) first, will rather trust the Alliance against Occupy. It would be easy to suggest that an unknown share of the claimed 1.2 million signatures against Occupy were coerced from employees, or that demonstrators in today’s anti-Occupy demonstrations had been paid. But there are most probably genuine concerns among “ordinary people”, not only among big business. There also seems to be a dividing line between the old and the young – most Alliance protesters seem to be 50-plus. They aren’t necessarily stupid, and they may be quite aware that the CCP and its business cronies, rather than Hong Kongers, may take control of Hong Kong’s political narratives. But to regain (or maintain) influence, Occupy Central will have to listen to what Hong Kongers actually want. To do that without losing their own way defines be the challenge.

Any kind of street protests or blockades may remind the elderly of the 1967 riots, when most Hong Kongers sided with the colonial government. Occupy Central is a very different movement – but they will have to mind their image among the (yet unknown) majority of Hong Kongers. A vision of 10,000 people blocking traffic in the central business district may not charm the public.

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Related

» World Radio Day, Feb 15, 2014
» Sense of Affection, July 30, 2012
» Szeto Wah, 1931 – 2011, Jan 2, 2011
» Divisive Power, June 21, 2010
» Don’t startle Beijing, Jan 7, 2010

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