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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Young Chinese abroad launch Internet attacks against Western press over Tibet unrest

March 31, 2008

The Associated Press
Sunday, March 30, 2008

BEIJING: Armed with nationalism and the Internet, young Chinese abroad
have launched a wave of attacks accusing Western media of bias in
reporting on unrest in Tibet and defending Beijing's crackdown.

The outpouring of emotion is unprecedented in scale and force. China's
rising international status and Beijing's success in portraying the
violence as being motivated by Tibetan separatists has emboldened
students and others to express views that are unpopular in their host
countries, experts said.

 From YouTube videos to Facebook to Web sites created to criticize news
reporting, the message is emphatic: Western media are irresponsible and
Tibet will never be independent.

"To all you bandwagon jumpers who know nothing about chinese history and
to all you bashers, let me give you some solid FACTS why Tibet was, is
and always will be a part of China," says the opening statement of a
video on YouTube that the site says was viewed nearly 2 million times by
Saturday.

The protests, led by monks, began peacefully on March 10, the
anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. They erupted
in violence on March 14. The Chinese government says 22 people have
died, while Tibetans abroad put the death toll at 140.

The unrest has cast a harsh light on China just as it prepares for the
Beijing Olympics. Foreign governments have called for restraint and for
independent monitors to ensure human rights are respected.

"Imagine everyday you open the news and it's all saying bad and biased
words towards your motherland: crackdown, killing, burning," Liu Yang, a
graduate student in biology at the University of Chicago, said in an e-mail.

"I don't understand, they struggle for press freedom and fairness, but
why would they lose their conscience now?" she wrote. "Isn't the media
independent, instead of being a mouthpiece?"

College professors and several students agreed the sentiment wasn't
confined to just a few fervent patriots.

"Most of my friends here hold similar views," said Kevin He, a doctoral
candidate who is president of the Chinese Students and Scholars
Association at UCLA. "I have been talking about this issue with people
from other organizations across the North America. They pretty much
share the same opinions."

In China, the news has raised less fuss, due in part to media controls
that keep most Chinese from seeing reports aside from the entirely
state-controlled press.

The fact that Chinese students in the West are unsympathetic to Tibetans
should be no surprise, said Barry Sautman, a social scientist at the
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

"The fact that they're living and studying and maybe working in the U.S.
or any other part of the West doesn't make them feel they should adopt
the prevailing viewpoint, because it doesn't necessarily correspond with
what they know about China and the Chinese," he said.

One student involved with a pro-Beijing Facebook group said he has
struggled to battle misconceptions about his native country.

"I do believe I should represent China whenever I can and defend my
country ... but it is disheartening sometimes because many people simply
do not listen," said Chris Yao, who administers a group called "Tibet
WAS, IS, and ALWAYS WILL BE a part of China," inspired by the YouTube video.

"Ever got angry from CNN news reports over the Tibet issue?" says a note
on the page. "Well, let me tell you, you are not the only one!"

The students and Chinese media have offered a handful of examples of
what they say is bias among Western journalists.

One Web site, http://www.anti-cnn.com, complained that several news
outlets showed photos of police in Nepal scuffling with protesters and
misidentified the security forces as Chinese.

It accused U.S.-based CNN of improperly cropping a photo of Chinese
military vehicles on its Web site to remove Tibetan rioters who were
pelting the trucks with rocks.

CNN insisted it has reported impartially.

"CNN refutes all allegations by bloggers that it distorts its coverage
of the events in Tibet to portray either side in a more favourable
light," the network said in a statement.

The photo of military vehicles "was used wholly appropriately," the
statement said. It said there should be no confusion because the image
was captioned, "Tibetans throw stones at army vehicles on a street in
the capital Lhasa."

Yao, 22, is a Chinese-born computer engineering student at Canada's
Simon Fraser University. He has lived in the United States and Canada
since age 10 but says his loyalties lie with China. He plans to return
after graduation.

"We are under no government influence and we are doing this strictly
because we believe that, we, as people who have Chinese heritage in us,
should try to correct the world when they have been wrongly informed
about China," he said in an e-mail.

The students' views stem in part from the Chinese media message that the
Lhasa rioting involved mobs of Tibetans terrorizing members of China's
majority Han ethnic group, said Merle Goldman of Harvard University's
Fairbank Center for East Asian Research.

"For the Chinese it looks like an attack on them, rather than an attack
on the state," she said. "So even if they read an article in The New
York Times, they might talk to their family (in China) and get a very
different view."

While Tibetan activists have long used the Internet to promote their
cause, Sautman said this was the first time ordinary Chinese struck back
with their message of an inseparable China and accusations of media bias.

"They've raised these objections, which they haven't done before. And
the way they did so in such a strong way, that did surprise me," he said.

This week, Beijing took a group of foreign reporters on a tightly
controlled visit to the Tibetan regional capital, Lhasa. Reporters who
tried to leave the group were followed on foot and by car.

"Please don't blame the Chinese government for banning Western media
from Tibet," said Liu, the University of Chicago student. "With such
(biased) attitudes, I believe getting close to the scene will just give
more material to those who have ulterior motives."
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