RED SEA, BLACK GRIEF
- Reflections on the Rally in Dundas Square
by SHENG Xue
Oct.23, 2010; Toronton
On the afternoon of March 29 at Dundas Square in Toronto, Canada, a sea of red, five-starred PRC flags and posters with patriotic slogans overwhelmed my eyes. It was a scene I had not witnessed for many years, (see attached photos), since the height of the Cultural Revolution in China when tens of thousands of young Red Guards were greeted by Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square. People brandished the Red Flag excitedly, shouted "Long live China!", and loudly sang the Chinese national anthem "March of the Volunteers: when the Chinese nation was at its most dangerous time." Old overseas Chinese, new immigrants and visa students all shed tears.
Meanwhile, the Chinese organizations' leaders calmly struggled to walk through the crowd. The rally's name was "Maintain the truth about Tibet. Safeguard the integrity of the motherland". They believed that the western media, in reports about the Tibet disturbances, discredited the Chinese government. They claimed that western societies are hostile to the Chinese and some of the populace in the West are stupid and ignorant. They argued that, in order to maintain national integrity, it was necessary for the Chinese government to deploy military force.
This demonstration, called the 3.29 assembly, was widely reported by many Chinese media and websites. By general estimation, one- to 2,000 people attended. One organizers of the demonstration only provided a web name to the public: Black White. Because he left his email address for the demonstration, some people on the Internet accused this hot-blooded youth of operating a wife-swapping club in Toronto. This man, "black white" spoke loudly during the demonstration about Tibetan history. He fervently insisted that Tibet since ancient times is part of Chinese territory, and angrily protested the West's support of Tibet independence in order to split up China. He urged those at the demonstration to tell the truth about Tibet to the Canadian public and wake up the people of the West.
Another speaker said during an interview that China's population includes 56 different ethnic groups, and everyone lives together in harmony, in a quite comfortable situation. There is no repression of any ethnic group or extermination of any culture. Before and after the demonstration, a local immigrant service website forum exploded with several thousand related posts. Many displayed anger towards western media and western society on the Tibet question.
However, they - the demonstrators and spokespeople - have intentionally avoided some basic facts. Why did the Chinese government expel all reporters and media when the events of March 10 and 14 took place? Why didn't they let the media directly obtain the truth, and report the complete picture of the events? And why don't these young students and patriotic overseas Chinese use their energy to organize demonstrations to tell the world the truth about Tibet. They live thousands of miles away, and the overwhelming majority of them have never been to Tibet and possibly don't know a single Tibetan.
For over 50 years, within China, have people been able to freely and openly discuss Tibet? Do the Chinese have normal channels of communication to understand Tibet, its history and the present situation?
In Mainland China, do the Han-Chinese and the Tibetans have the right to assemble in public to express demands like they do in Canada? They have lived their lives in a society where news media are controlled, and correspondence is blocked. So how is it possible that, under these circumstances, they can better grasp the truth about Tibet than we can in a society where the flow of information is unimpeded, where there is freedom of speech, freedom to do research?
Why, indeed, do the Tibetan lamas need large-scale demonstrations to deliver their petitions? Why did their peaceful petitions and assemblies require armed suppression which deteriorated into violent disturbance?
Moreover, who is this "western media"? Who are they? In the West, each outlet of media has its own, individual political stand. The US has the Wall Street Journal with a relatively right-wing standpoint. They also have "the New York Times" with a more liberal stance and a comparatively left-wing perspective. Even extreme-left Maoist magazines that kiss Jiang Qing (Madame Mao) are permitted. In Canada we also read the People's Daily's overseas edition and see China's Central Committee Television (CCTV) programs without censorship.
Western media are multi-faceted with many bosses, and are basically all privately owned. In western nations, unlike China, a government-dominated media monopoly, such as that of the CPC, is impossible. In China, most newspapers, magazines, radio and television are controlled by the Party and the government.
Every media outlet can make mistakes, and, in western nations, their biases can result in big mistakes. The mistakes are often caused by competition among the media outlets, but competition also acts as a restraint resulting in public vigilance to correct them. Those who aren't truthful and objective can be defeated through competition. People don't buy their products, and they go out of business. Western media are not dominated by a unified political influence or a special-interest group. Western media, while skeptical and vigilant about those in power in government and in society, are at the same time being scrutinized by the people.
Unlike China's media, western media cannot be forced to be the mouthpiece of a political party or the megaphone for a government. At times when politics demands it the Chinese collectively create lies. This monopoly of false news, without any long-term surveillance, brings disaster on the nation and people. The anti-right campaign, the great famine, and the Cultural Revolution are some of the most obvious examples.
The dauntless spirit of these hot-blooded, indignant Chinese youths who want to use the "truth" to "awaken the western populace", reminds one of the 60s when the young Red Guards wanted to plant the red five-starred flag all over the world to liberate the world's population. They act as if, over the last 50 years, China was a democracy, Chinese citizens could speak freely, and China was a society where they lived incomparably happy lives. On the other hand, the entire western world is portrayed as evil and despotic. In coming to Canada, they shoulder the huge responsibility to liberate the local people from an information blockade, opinion control and illiteracy. What a joke!
If 80 million people who died under Chinese Communist Party rule had the right to speak, they would send out a roar that would certainly instill fear in this group of brave warriors and scatter them from the Square. However, these protesters whose blood boiled in response to their own accomplishment are obviously not interested in taking advantage of the opportunity of a society where information flows freely. They don't know, and don't want to know, the true history of Tibet.
The Tibetan uprising started as a result of Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet commemorating the 50th anniversary of the uprising on March 10.
On 10 March, 1959, Tibetans rose up in revolt against Chinese Communist Party rule. The CPC army suppressed the revolt, killing 80,000 Tibetans, and the 14th Dalai Lama and 100,000 Tibetans took refuge in India. More than 6,000 Tibetan temples were nearly all destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. According to the deceased Punchen Lama's memoirs, of the original more than 600,000 Buddhist lamas, 110,000 were persecuted and killed, and 250,000 people were compelled to return to secular life.
In 1989, three months before the Chinese Communist Party carried out the June 4th suppression in Beijing, the CCP used the PLA to suppress Tibetan demonstrations in Lhasa. During this event the Tibetan death and injury toll was serious, and more than 3,000 Tibetans were arrested.