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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Response to Chinese allegation -- Cheated by headline

September 24, 2010

By Dhundup Gyalpo
Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)
September 21, 2010

They say, on average, 8 out of 10 people read
headlines, but only 2 out of 10 read the rest.
Others say headline is read by five times as many
people who read the entire content. If that is
the case, then the copy editors of Chinese
propaganda have been hitting it bang on the head.

Earlier this month, China Tibet Online published
an "unsigned" article supplied by People’s Daily
under an unceremonious title of “Religious
Dictatorship of Dalai clique”. Had you clicked on
that, to your great surprise and chagrin, you
would have found the actual content to be
entirely a different story altogether. In fact,
there was absolutely no mention of “religious
dictatorship”, nor was there anything that could
be seen as directly relevant to the headline.
Sounds like the proverbial case of “hanging sheep’s head to sell dog meat”.

"Headlines in newspapers and magazines were once
written with readers in mind, to be clever or
catchy or evocative. Now headlines are just there
to get the search engines to notice,” writes
David Carr of The New York Times. He also gave
some interesting examples of how using hot terms
can bring a headline to the top of the heap in
online searches. However, the gurus of headline
writing skills still maintain that the headline
is essentially a promise (to readers) that must
be delivered in the ensuing content, if not for
anything else than at least for the sake of one's
own credibility. But, try telling that to the official Chinese media!?

The People’s Daily article in reality turned out
to be a standard Chinese propaganda on
"democratic management committees" that are today
the virtual lords and masters in Tibetan
monasteries. Quoting Du Qinglin, deputy chairman
of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC and
director of the United Front Work Department of
CPC Central Committee, the article claims that
the introduction of “democratic management
system” has paved a solid foundation for the
modernization of monasteries and development of Tibetan Buddhism.

It is no brainer that in Chinese jargon
"democratic management" is a euphemistic
expression for "control by Chinese Communist
Party". Even Du Qingling himself had in the past
revealed that only those "monks and nuns who are
politically reliable, learned and respected
should be selected to monastery management committees."

DMCs are thus composed of government-approved,
"patriotic" monks and, in some cases, even party
cadres and government officials, who exercise
strict control and surveillance over the
administrative and religious life of the
monastery, including enforcement of state
indoctrination campaigns like "patriotic
education" sessions during which monks and nuns
are forced to pledge their obeisance and total
submission to the CCP, mainly by slandering His
Holiness the Dalai Lama and recognizing the
Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama. Those who refuse
to comply are either expelled from the monastery
or in certain cases even thrown behind bars.

No wonder a young monk from Tibet was reportedly
quoted as saying that the so-called democratic
management committee has “hijacked the monastery
to serve their own purpose of making a lot of
money from tourists and carrying out propaganda
work.” [Read more in When the Sky Fell to Earth:
The New Crackdown on Buddhism in Tibet]

For the handlers of Chinese propaganda, it is not
an exception but the standard rule to manufacture
rosy narratives by completely whitewashing or
denying the ugly truth behind the facts. The
article therefore again brought home the sheer
futility of entertaining any expectation of even
a modicum amount of fairness or objectivity from
the official media, which is, to begin with, a
through and through CCP organ. Particularly, when
it comes to political issues in general and the
Tibet issue in particular (which is increasingly
portrayed as one of China’s sacrosanct,
non-negotiable, core issues) the official media
absolutely has no option but to be scrupulously
dogmatic in sticking to the party line.

As a result, the state-run Chinese media outlets
are afflicted with an uncanny knack for
self-delusion and psychotic denial of obvious
facts, largely through harebrained logic and
inconsistent arguments that often run contrary to
the rhetoric of their own propaganda. For
example, take another piece published by China
Tibet Online, “Article unveils Dalai Lama's
double tricks on Independence of Tibet and
violence”, which took strong exceptions to His
Holiness the Dalai Lama’s comments during an
interview to NDTV news channel. When asked if the
majority opinion within the Tibetan community
changes (from the Middle-Way Approach to
independence), will His Holiness be willing to
change his position, His Holiness replied by
saying that he would “have to” as he is not a dictator.

Although His Holiness’s views would have been
quite normal and natural in a democratic society,
China Tibet Online lambasted his comments by
crying wolf again, claiming the “change of
Dalai's position has caused great concern among
quite a few international media because it
articulates that he will switch his precious
stand to independence of Tibet and violence.”

Well, hold on a second. If we take that assertion
at face value, it clearly implies a categorical
acknowledgement on their part that His Holiness
the Dalai Lama at present is not seeking
independence, but a middle-way solution that can
be arranged within the constitutional framework of PRC.

Furthermore, one hardly needs a reminder that
China offers a worst-case scenario for press
freedom and free speech. For more than a decade
now, China has been the world's number one jailor
of journalists. Similarly, in their Worldwide
Press Freedom Index 2009, Reporters Without
Borders ranked China 168th (or 8th from bottom) in terms of press freedom.

In a ridiculous twist of irony, it is none but
China itself that has been scowling and howling
against the alleged biases in the Western media,
particularly on the Tibet issue. The jury however
is still out on whether the Western media has
been guilty of biased coverage. Even though the
Western media is not infallible, in terms of its
overall standard of accuracy, fairness and
objectivity, there is still no case for a fitting
comparison between Western and (official) Chinese media.

Most important of all, the Chinese idea of
"fairness" apparently lies in their having others
saying what they want them to say. Whereas, in
actuality, “fairness” lies in being free to say
something different, whether in agreement or
dissent. This is exactly the reason why China, in
light of the abysmal state of its own domestic
media, totally lacks the moral authority to be
pointing fingers at foreign media. As they say,
people who live in glass houses should not be throwing stones.
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