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by Jun Wang

China: Ignore the Rights Protests, Focus on Olympic Torch

(PNS) -- Chi Zhang, a Chinese software engineer from Sunnyvale, Calif. left work early to welcome the Olympic torch to San Francisco reports the Chinese-language World Journal. He ended up being very disappointed. The torch route changed at the last minute and Zhang missed seeing it. But some 20,000 Chinese who gathered on San Francisco streets waving Chinese flags seem more determined than ever to stand up for their homeland. The Olympic torch now stands for China.

Chinese protesters shouted "Truth" and "Liar," pointing out that the Tibetan protesters' arguments don't match with facts and that people in Tibet are not living terrible lives.

The torch's previous stop before San Francisco was Paris. French anti-protest demonstrators posted their "struggle experience" on the Internet for San Francisco partners to use. They advise not to use violence in any situation. But at the same time they've publicized the numbers of Tibetan organizations inviting people to call in with their own viewpoints. So many people have done that, that many of the Tibetan groups have had trouble getting through to each other by phone.

The demonstrations and protests in France have unleashed a backlash in Chinese media and websites. "French people broke my heart" says one post on, the most heavily visited Chinese online forum. "We Chinese are Proud of China!!! We are Proud of Our Country, Our Culture, Our History!!! WE ARE PROUD OF BE CHINESE!!!" the poster writes in English. "Shame on France!!! Shame on French!!!"

Some want to go further than just Internet sloganeering. The Ming Pao Daily reports that some Chinese want to fight boycotts with boycotts. Though the leaders of the Tibetan movement, including the Dalai Lama have not called for a boycott of the Olympic Games, the Ming Pao reports that some are calling on all Chinese people and their government to not go as tourists to European countries, especially France and Germany, which have been opened up to Chinese tourists for the last three years.

The boycott call also targets French products. There is even a list on the Internet of products to boycott. It includes Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Citroen and Air France. Coca Cola has also been singled out for ire. Though Coke is an Olympics sponsor, it ran an advertisement featuring three monks on a roller coaster under its slogan "Make it Real." A Chinese blogger on the popular Tianya website read that to mean "Make (Freedom) Real," the roller coasters representing freedom.

Even Chinese American actress Joan Chen has gotten in on the debate. In an op-ed for the Washington Post Chen writes that hoping that protesting the Olympic torch will help 1.3 billion Chinese people gain more freedom and rights "could not be further from reality."

The media war has been polarizing says Alex Jones, Pulitzer Prize winner and director of the Shorenstein Center of the press and public policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. "My impression is that the portrait being painted by those sources (Western media) is one of crackdown and force by China's government," says Jones. "And I have been told that the internal Chinese media refer to Western coverage by comparing it to Goebbels' propaganda for the Nazis."

Tibet is only a pawn in struggle between superpowers says the United Morning News based in Singapore. But the protests and the backlash have united the Chinese in a way they have not been since World War II, when they faced Japanese invaders.

Their feeling of victimization has been re-awakened by the Tibet issue and especially the Western media's coverage of it. Some of the most furious Chinese are the ones living abroad. Many of them have complained about seeing Chinese antiquities, representing thousands of years of history, sitting in European and American museums.

The feeling of victimization was apparent in one flag carried by some San Francisco Olympic torch supporters. It read "May 4th, China."

On May 4, 1919, Chinese students led people from all walks of life onto the streets to protest the Chinese government signing a "humiliating" agreement following the World War I. Though the Chinese were on the winning side, they were about to sign an agreement that would have allowed Shandong Province to be occupied by another country. The protests forced the Chinese government to back down. That movement has been recognized now as a turning point in modern Chinese history.

But how powerful a glue is the sense of victimization? Another poster on says, "China has never been short of spine. But China doesn't have a faith, which can keep its people being glued together. It's not Taiwan or Tibet independence, nor Olympics. Nothing temporary works forever."

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Albion Monitor   April 11, 2008   (

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