Join our Mailing List

"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Tibet independence girl

May 16, 2008

Helen Coskeran
Open Democracy (UK)
May 14, 2008

The attention of the international media to the Tibetan issue is set
to continue for some time. But a part of the Chinese media and
internet community has been sidetracked by a 21-year-old philosophy
student in Hong Kong whom they have christened "Tibet Independence
Girl". Tibet Independence Girl (aka Christina Han Chau-man) was one
of nine protestors arrested in China for wrapping a Tibetan flag
around herself during the Olympic torch relay and has now sprung to
internet fame ­ for all the wrong reasons.

Almost no one writing on Han's arrest is focusing on the issue to
which she was trying to draw attention. Rather, photos have been
spread around the internet of her private life and relationships. A
Chinese sociology professor points out that "(t)he focus is less on
the issue itself, but on personalities, focusing on an individual"
and that this is the more the fault of the media than of Han herself.
But whoever is to blame, it does beg the question of how and why
particular personalities succeed in being linked to particular
issues. There were eight supporters other than Han who were also
arrested for their pro-Tibet protests and of them, there is little
discussion. Then again, they are perhaps neither 21 nor a model with
an Australian boyfriend and therefore not newsworthy.

The media is superficial even when it comes to a serious
long-standing issue such as this one. This will not change. But
although Han is interesting enough to warrant shifting attention away
from the debate at hand, a focus on her could increase the potential
for analytic debate on the subject. A unique individual can certainly
inject life into a cause, but the internet community and media should
challenge those individuals to use this new-found attention to
further discussion, as one media observer suggests. Let's watch this
space on Han and hope that she does not allow the important questions
on Tibet to be lost in the media scrum for scandal.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank