BBC BLOGS - James Reynolds' China
« Previous | Main | Next »

Shutting us out?

Post categories:

James Reynolds | 05:42 UK time, Friday, 13 June 2008

Recently, I asked whether or not the openness the Chinese authorities displayed in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake would continue. Now, after a day spent in the city of Dujiangyan trying to cover a story about bereaved parents, I can try to answer that question more fully.

First of all, some background. Perhaps the most devastating story to come out of the earthquake is that of the thousands of school children who were killed when their schools collapsed. In Dujiangyan, more than 200 children died when classrooms at the Xinjian primary school fell down. The school was the only building in its area to collapse. Bereaved parents believe that it fell down because it was poorly built - they want the government to punish those responsible. The government promised it would do so.

Picture of a little girl outside a collapsed schoolOn 1 June, the government allowed the bereaved parents to hold a memorial service at the remains of the school. The parents invited reporters from the Chinese media and the foreign media to attend - several dozen of us did so. The government left us all alone. We all reported on the parents' loud demands for justice. At the time, it was tempting to see the government's tolerance of the parents' campaign as proof of a new, more open China in the aftermath of the earthquake.

But after this, things started to change.

Early last week, sources tell us that the Chinese government instructed the state-run media not to cover the parents' campaign anymore. (This is a standard measure the government uses to end coverage of any story it deems harmful to social stability or the national cause.)
So, the parents' campaign was shut out of the state-run media. But the government doesn't have the power to tell the foreign media which stories it can and cannot cover.

Earlier this week, my colleagues and I flew down to Sichuan province to report on the parents' campaign. Temporary rules in place since January 2007 for the Olympics allow the foreign media to travel anywhere in China - except Tibet (previously we had to get permission from provincial authorities anytime we wanted to leave Beijing). As soon as we got to Sichuan, we had to register with the local government - in exchange for earthquake press passes which have been made compulsory for foreign reporters.

On Thursday morning we picked up on the parents' campaign. We heard that some of them were trying to get back into the Xinjian primary school. They said they wanted to grieve inside the remains of the school exactly one month on from the earthquake. But a line of police officers stopped many of the parents from getting in (some managed to get through before the police arrived).

My colleagues and I drove to Dujiangyan. When we arrived, one of my colleagues got out of the car to find out what was going on. She walked towards a small crowd of parents standing next to a line of police officers. My colleague was quickly spotted by plain clothes police officers and detained. She was taken to a government building where she counted five more reporters being held (each worked for a foreign media company).

Parents mourn their daughter in Beichuan

It's worth going into a bit of the detail of the next bit - since I want to show you how the system works.

The police told my colleague that she was being detained under article 2 of the rules printed on the back of our earthquake press passes.

Article 2 says the following (this is our translation from the original Chinese): "When conducting interviews, journalists must obey the relevant rules or regulations issued by different levels of headquarters for earthquake relief and reconstruction work."

The police told my colleague that the relevant rule in this case was this: the earthquake relief headquarters had decreed a period of traffic control. This temporary security measure meant that journalists were not allowed in the city (even reading this now I'm not entirely sure what it means - but my colleague made a point of noting it down accurately at the time to get it exactly right).

Another reason was offered as well. The police told my colleague that there was a danger of further aftershocks in Dujiangyan, so reporters should leave for their own safety. (This explanation was a little hard to believe since we came across cafes by the side of the road full of people relaxing with little apparent worry of being caught in an aftershock.)

"This is not censorship," one officer insisted after going through all the above reasons.

My colleague was released after 45 minutes and advised to leave the city straight away. Later on, we managed to meet some of the Xinjian primary school parents outside Dujiangyan city.

They told us they were deeply demoralised by their confrontation with the police. One mother showed us some fresh bruises on her arm - she told us she got them when the police dragged her away from the school (she'd been trying to pick up her son's photo). One father shouted angrily that all he'd wanted to do was honour his son. Another father said that he believed the parents' chances of achieving justice were now almost nil.

We have been able to tell their story. But the authorities here have made it increasingly hard for us to do so.

Back, then, to the original question: will the openness the Chinese authorities displayed in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake continue? In the case of the bereaved parents, the answer is becoming clear.

Comments

or register to comment.

  • 1. At 07:32am on 13 Jun 2008, buaadallas wrote:

    James, I suggest you to gather more informations before you publish your article.
    Chinese government had promised to investigate the quality of the collapsed school buildings as soon as clear the dangers existing in the earthquake zone (such as quake-lakes). As a Chinese I admit there are many low-quality school building in China, and the people who responsible for the this should be punished. But in this moment, there are stll a lot of aftershocks and dangerous quake-lakes existing in Sichuang, so I think the most important thing now is to prevent any more damages.
    I believe after every danger is cleared, the government will investigate the poor buildings fairly for the grieved parents.
    Do you believe that, if you not, let's make a bet?


    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 08:20am on 13 Jun 2008, taobo33 wrote:

    Hi James, my hint under this Circumstance is: sometimes you need to go straight to ask the spokeman in BeiJing about this, or to send some of your feedback to BeiJing.

    For some local officials doesn't want things to get exposed under the sun at certain times.

    If it's the same answer you get then i will really get pissed by this.

    Regards


    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 08:38am on 13 Jun 2008, bokaroseani wrote:

    Dear James, I appreciate what you are doing. Continue the good work. I like to read the behind-the-scene stories about the challenges of reporting from China. Hang in there to tell the world what you see.

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 09:11am on 13 Jun 2008, hizento wrote:

    China has for many years been open about natural disasters. Annual floodings causes thousands of deaths and relocations of millions the government has been very open about it. It is just that it is Olympic year and western countries are more aware of events in China. Western standard press openness is a double edge sword, sometimes it wins you praise, other times you get criticism. If openness create obstacles to progress and social stabilities then the greater good of the nation takes priorities over smaller individual needs. It is not an ideal world scenario but also not a difficult choice either.
    Mr Reynold may not have ever witness this scale of tragedy in his life but even in the UK when some counties sufffered flooding a year ago despite press freedom which soon lost interest how much did the UK government did to help the victims? That of course is peanut compared to what happened to the earthquake in Sichuan, how the UK government cope with natural disaster of that scale might result in a complete collapse of the country's political and economic system.

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 10:14am on 13 Jun 2008, howardzzzz wrote:

    James,

    If you want to do a better job in China, it is important for you to win the trust of Chinese government and people. Just as two friends, one would like to tell more about himself to the other if they trust each other.

    Give you an example, would you like to tell me how much you earn from BBC? of course not, because you don't know who I am and don't trust me.

    The same principle applies when you report stories in China, if your intention is only to explore the negative stories and exaggrate the bad issues, why should government bother to tell you?

    So if you are shut out, don't just blame others, think about how you can improve your report quality, and be more objective and less biased. After you win more trust among Chinese people, then I believe your work will be easier and more influencial.

    I hope your work can really benefit yourself and China. Good luck.

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 10:25am on 13 Jun 2008, zickyyy wrote:

    I understand and agree with the government's desire to maintain stability. But restricting the bereaved parents or the media coverage on them is so stupid! I don't see what they are doing can cause any instability and I believe every Chinese is expecting a fully investigation and harsh punishment to those corrupt officials except themselves. This is instead another opportunity to show people that the government's determination to care and help the victims.

    I don't know who decided to impose the restrictions, the local authority or central government. They don't have the encourage to take any risk when things come to stability!

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 10:36am on 13 Jun 2008, lisagita wrote:

    Dear buaadallas and hizento,

    I agree with both of you.

    James, since Beijing has already made known that it will look into the doufu building problems, it will do so. If it doesn't, the central will lose its credibility. Just that it can't do it now. The Govt's hands are full and have to spend its efforts and energy to return normalcy to the millions of displaced people first.

    I believe the parents' grievences will be addressed. It is hoped that these people be a little bit more patient and not add onto the Govt's burden at this difficult time. With the internet and SMS where opinions and messages can be communicated swiftly and massively, it is a sort of check and pressure on the Govt. to follow up with what they promise to do.

    If you read into Chinese history, you will realise China is a huge nation and the natural and man-made disasters were usually much larger than other countries. The Chinese has had been dealing with them for thousands of years and yet this civilisation will continue for another few thousands of years. I can say that this is the only ancient civilisation which will be able to do this.

    If reading Chinese history is such a heavy stuff for you, I recommend you watch some Chinese DVD on period dramas with English subtitles. You will have better understanding of the Chinese thinking and their ways of facing and solving problems. Hopefully, this will give you better understanding of China and its people, and your reporting will be more accurate.
























    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 10:43am on 13 Jun 2008, tommywang wrote:

    i wonder, why everytime China (or communist country) tighten up secruity, the world gets so aggrevated?

    there are many problems faced by the people and government after quake, including security issues.

    why i didn't see a report of such kind when american soldiers arrived at katrina scene with rifles in their hands?

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 10:44am on 13 Jun 2008, howardzzzz wrote:

    Another thing I'd like to mention is as a BBC representative based in China, you need to be very careful about the reputation/credibility of BBC among Chinese readers.

    BBC has been enjoying a good reputation in China for long time before it is fully openned to Chinese readers, yet I noticed that its reputation as an impartial news source could be hurted gradually among ordinary Chinese people (especially Chinese netizens) recently after the openness. "Distance generates beauty", I don't hope this applys to BBC in China. This worries me about the long term influence of BBC in China.

    As a serious media, BBC should not only focus on narrow disputed topics like angered earthquake parents, or olympics relay protest, which could be good for short term to generate some discussions, but in long run it could also damage BBC's brand as a world class balanced media.

    BBC's today's customers are not in western english speaking countries, but also in China. So if you can spend some time communicating with Chinese readers and learn more about what they think, I believe BBC will be more successful here.

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 10:47am on 13 Jun 2008, Linhai wrote:

    I don't believe the censorship in China would be changed much overnight just because of this earthquake. Now it seems that the original openness for forign media was more or less a PR strategy. It's disappointing, but not surprising.

    There has to be pressure to make the authorities to improve. Keep up the good work, Mr Reynolds.

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 12:19pm on 13 Jun 2008, bokaroseani wrote:

    Ì am totally with Linhai here. Pressure needs to be brought to bear on the authorities to address not just the short term needs of the people but also the longer term corrections to prevent such massive loss of life.

    The media (both western and Chinese) should resist pressures from a few misguided people who think that they can manipulate public opinion by intimidating correspondents into believing that what they see is wrong and asking them to report differently. The demand for unbiased reporting among the world is what gives BBC its legitimacy and its worldwide appeal.

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 12:34pm on 13 Jun 2008, topbear1974 wrote:

    James, first I want to say is, you are the guest over there in china, you don’t stick you camera anywhere without permission. That is just basic courtesy. Why on earth British people think they have the “right” to disturb other people’s normal life and stir among different opinions so there will be more drama to watch? Especially after disaster like this it is simply distasteful! Imagine after 7/11 London bomb, we Chinese media dispatch a crew and came to interview every victims let them moan how angry they were toward the government and broadcast it to the world? Will you fill salt on the wound? Would you like to shut the door and never speak again? Would you say let us deal with it first before meeting and guests? Come on, if you want to search dust bin you can always found something.

    If I were the Chinese government I probably ask Chinese people to have a vote to see if we want the obligation to have western media constant pesting us for more right at all. Judging by the vote on the Sina about anti-cnn, I am not surprised if you have been voted out of country. Still my last words, if you don’t understand it, at least give the courtesy or benefit of doubt to leave us alone. Or better, try to understand it better.

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 12:39pm on 13 Jun 2008, yjianbo2007 wrote:

    James, you are very impatient and make a too quick judgement. Chinese look things in the long term! So be patient, wait and see. Chinese knows what is good to them and when is the right time.

    So shut out your mouth, wait and see!

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 1:01pm on 13 Jun 2008, topbear1974 wrote:

    Second thoughts on my comments on 12:

    I am sorry my tone is a bit strong. I did not mean it. Can I moderate it? or can you delete the second paragraph for me. Many thanks.

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 1:54pm on 13 Jun 2008, Maeskins wrote:

    China is very naive to think that they can open and shut the door on this story and expect the press to except it. I can’t see how China could be damaged by this story. If they are seen allowing the parents to grieve at the school for their lost children, and also punishing the people involved with the poor construction of these schools, then it is only going to improve the outside world’s view on China.

    However it is Olympic year, and reports on lost children, angry parents and the corruption in the construction of public buildings is not what China wants the world to see.

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 2:00pm on 13 Jun 2008, antimatterbomb wrote:

    sure the temp openess has come to an end...this is totally within my expectation

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 2:21pm on 13 Jun 2008, thhan279 wrote:

    Hello James,

    Here you go again try to smear China with the negative analysis of yours. I guess old habit die hard, eh. You coverage is full of inaccuracy. Fyi, the site is protected for investigation purpose not for censorship. You have very negative perception about China. With the perception like that, I don't know how you ever able to speak about China objectively. May one day you will find the truth you are seeking in China. Good luck

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 2:25pm on 13 Jun 2008, IAN_GIE wrote:

    Hey James,

    What the police had said is a way of rejecting you and your collegues POLITELY. This is how most chinese do and its as well a chinese culture .

    You and your colleague are getting too worried. Calm down man, calm down! Dont worry so much, the government will know what to do.

    Corruption is a serious crime in China. Dont you know that a very high-profile governemnt's official will be sentenced to death if he is found guitly of commiting a corruption. Let us just wait and see. Many things take time to work out, especially when there are so many things happen at one time. There are other important things to do such as rebuilding many lives of people, resconstruction and food supplying.

    For the sake of stability, i feel that the chinese government has done the right thing.

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 2:32pm on 13 Jun 2008, yl5308 wrote:

    Being a Chinese and Sichuan native, I'm so sad to hear the government treated our people that way.

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 3:49pm on 13 Jun 2008, soonleo wrote:

    40 odd millions of the population affected, thousands dead. Futures of thousands in question. New cities to be rebulit etc. etc. etc. In terms of priority, I believe your right as a member of the press is of a very low priority. Do you expect the government with such an enormous task to pussyfoot around a bunch of reporters and allocate valuable resouces for such a trivial aspect of life? You should be helping, not chasing shadows. Thank god you are not one of the family affected by the quake.

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 4:15pm on 13 Jun 2008, zickyyy wrote:

    Re....bokaroseani

    "The demand for unbiased reporting among the world is what gives BBC its legitimacy and its worldwide appeal."

    Excuse me. BBC will never have its legitimacy in China as it stands on the interest of British people and is more or less biased systematically.

    It is natural so nothing to blame.

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 4:27pm on 13 Jun 2008, legendaryedwardbear wrote:

    Dear James,

    I'm surprised that you expected the police to let you or anybody else into a dilapidated building for whatever reason, clearly your report shows bias against the Chinese.

    If the British police prevented civilians from entering a dangerous collapsed building would you write a report on how the British government is suppressing the rights of its citizens?

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 4:29pm on 13 Jun 2008, cambridgestuart wrote:

    It is sad really, because I trust the Chinese government when they say they will crack down on corruption, and I also believe they will put maximum effort into helping the people of Sichuan. However, they do themselves little good by trying to block foreign media and shut up negative stories. Personally I believe that it is this inability to accept critism and the difficulties China has with foreign media cover that has caused modern, negative, western interpretations of China. Stories are twisted by foreign journalists because they have suffered in ways like James has just described, and take grudges away with them.

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 4:51pm on 13 Jun 2008, johnxue wrote:

    James,

    I appreciate you have made some objective reports on China earthquake. But I judge your this report ‘Shutting us out’ as biased and inaccurate. It is the government’s responsibility to protect the quake site for investigation and prevent disease spread.

    On 6th April London Olympic torch relay, police only allowed pro-China supporters going to some limited points in Trafalgar Square. Thousands pro-China supporters had been docked by London police at one side of Haymarket for 1 hour. The BBC’s screen mainly focused on pro-Dalai side, only mentioned in short words of ‘hundreds’ pro-China supporters. This in fact is totally biased and triggered a much larger scale protest against BBC’s biased report on 19th April in London, Manchester, Cardiff and many other cities. But BBC had minor broadcast on the 4.19 protest.

    On Taiwan issues, BBC often says China considers Taiwan as a renegade province. This is provoking and fooling readers. BBC should also let people know that Taiwan considers the mainland China as a part of their country in their constitution.

    James, after 20 years, no, 5 years, reading today’s article by yourself, will you smile or laugh?

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 5:02pm on 13 Jun 2008, johnxue wrote:

    James,

    I appreciate you have made some objective reports on China earthquake. But I judge your this report ‘Shutting us out’ as biassed and inaccurate. It is the government’s responsibility to protect the quake site for investigation and prevent disease spread.

    On 6th April London Olympic torch relay, police only allowed pro-China supporters going to some limited points in Trafalgar Square. Thousands pro-China supporters had been docked by London police at one side of Haymarket for 1 hour. The BBC’s screen mainly focussed on pro-Dalai side, only mentioned in short words of ‘hundreds’ pro-China supporters. This in fact is totally biassed and triggered a much larger scale protest against BBC’s biassed report on 19th April in London, Manchester, Cardiff and many other cities. But BBC had minor broadcast on the 4.19 protest.

    On Taiwan issues, BBC often says China considers Taiwan as a renegade province. This is provoking and fooling readers. BBC should also let people know that Taiwan considers the mainland China as a part of their country in their constitution.

    James, after 20 years, no, 5 years, reading today’s article by yourself, will you smile or laugh?

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 5:57pm on 13 Jun 2008, beersntears wrote:

    Good coverage. It further deepen my mind the inland China is a liberty backwater. Besides they really aint good at handling the PR thing, from the top to the local. Not sure where this government led investigation is heading to. Without media coverage, I am pessimistic. I can only hope the outcome would justify the lost lives of 1k+ children back there.

    It's also interesting how some fellow readers try to tell James poke Chinese central government instead of giving an objective coverage....I think a journalist is to do report in his first place.

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 6:06pm on 13 Jun 2008, londonlurker wrote:

    When talking about 'stability', people have to understand that it's about the political stability. CCP government as a totalitarian one, is like a gigantic pyramid of glasses. If you extract a few from the wrong places, the whole set will colapse. The local corruption is hard to deal with, because a corrupted local official could be a supporter of a support ... of Mr Hu. So what you gonna do? Open the pandora box and leave the whole system in chaos? Or think a way to reform softly?

    I'm not really sure why westerners are always much more anxious than Chinese themselves to make China better, while they are not actually the ones suffering. My suggestion: keep your superiority to yourself, and be patient.

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 8:04pm on 13 Jun 2008, runonce wrote:

    I can understand why the government doing this.
    It knows that parents will sacrifice everything
    they have for their children, many actually live just for their children.
    For example, the government turns the education into business, it really works, a majority of hard earned money out of parents' wallet paid tuition for their children which could not easily be collected in other way.

    The angry parents may do anything they can do when their only hope dies.

    The construction quality of schools can be much better if some officials' children in those schools, it seems nonsense, but it will work guaranteed.


    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 8:06pm on 13 Jun 2008, redtibetan wrote:

    Hi James,
    thanks for bringing the light to outside world. I knew this from the begining that they will show the true color. how come the authority are not allowing the parents to mourn and demand the justice. based the chinese saying, the great Dragon is no match for local snakes, i bet you that central governemnt would not do anything at the end because they are survived from the support of these lower levl local official. same thing to Tibetan issue. there are many official in central government who are willing to solve the Tibetan problem but few local official always put hindrances on the path for their benefit. I am very sad for these parents. i hope that these official finds some enlightment.

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 9:21pm on 13 Jun 2008, chinathletic wrote:

    James

    you're journalistically twisting this issue into saying something Chinese people and government don't really mean.

    It is very mean and malicious of you. It is not really helping Chinese people recovery from the disaster.

    I see you put yourself as an outsider, poke fun on someone's wound, even the wound is still bleeding.

    Not very nice indeed.

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 9:34pm on 13 Jun 2008, chinathletic wrote:

    To zickyyy

    If it is natural and nothing to blame for BBC stands on the interest of British people. Why would British media blames China for blocking BBC in China for the past years? Has China got rights for stands on the interest of Chinese people?

    Complain about this comment

  • 32. At 9:50pm on 13 Jun 2008, Linhai wrote:

    What's more indicative about the state of the Chinese authority 's openness is how it treats domestic media within China . From what I have read, it seems that all the criticism on issues such as shoddy buildings and corruptions etc has been silenced now, and there's no reports about the protests by those bereaved parents.

    The freedom enjoyed by the Chinese domestic media is a more important benchmark for the openness of the Chinese authority.

    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 10:12pm on 13 Jun 2008, malaysian_chinese wrote:

    James,

    I have been following your blog for a long time and I am compelled to write my two-cents-worth on this particular entry.

    Things are changing in China rapidly, for positive or negative. The earthquake in China has stolen the spotlight all around the world for the past one month or so and we all know that the Chinese government had done all that it could to the earthquake victims.

    While keeping you and your crews away from the earthquake region can stir up some suspicions, it may just simply be a benevolent act from the government with the objective to protect you and your fellow crews from danger. I don't think the Chinese government owes you an explanation to that. While you have all your rights to gather as many information from the earthquake sites as possible, the government also has its right to refuse. I don't see any problem with that.

    The Chinese government has promised to look into the earthquake incident in regards to school buildings and corruption, therefore we should trust that justice would prevail. Do not rush into conclusion too quickly, as what you might have implied in this entry.

    If you think it is easy to handle the earthquake scandal, think twice. Lets give some time and we shall see.

    Complain about this comment

  • 34. At 10:56pm on 13 Jun 2008, fairreport wrote:

    James, I think you should interview those parents a little bit later, when people are more clam , solving quake lake etc is still the top priority thing at the moment, give government a little bit time to react on this, and criticise it if it will not. I think government will and should invetigate this.

    China in general is still poor, Sichuan is particularly a poor place, and not an international at all, don't expect people there understand the Western rules. Give us a little more time.

    Complain about this comment

  • 35. At 00:07am on 14 Jun 2008, U9746596 wrote:

    What scares me more than the worlds most powerful government lying over and over again to it's citizens is that those very citizens flood an open news website telling it that they want to be lied to and don't want to think for themselves.

    I'm bracing myself for a dark time.

    And just for clarification; in English impartial means that you don't take sides. Meaning you report good news when there is good news and bad news when there is bad news. It does not mean you always post good news.

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 00:36am on 14 Jun 2008, snsgenius wrote:

    Guys, don't be mad at James. He is only a correspondent and obviously, he needs to make a living. So James has to write those reports that the Westerners would wish to read. There is nothing to blame him for.

    The general picture is that the entire world of Western media is biased against China. Have you ever seen a single correspondent of CNN or New York Times report positively on any Chinese events?

    Instead of wasting our breath with these Western news outlets, we must focus on our economic and social development (and of course, military modernisation as well).

    When China becomes as wealthy as the US (surely one day she will), we can set up such organisations as Free Hawaii Association, Aboriginal Youth Association, and Scotland and Northern Ireland Studies Centre. We may even build a few radar stations in Cuba, and establish some secret prisons in Europe too.

    Let them talk the talk and let us walk the walk. One day in the future, we're going to deal with them.

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 00:52am on 14 Jun 2008, waikikisam wrote:

    Great article, James. For years, when there is a natural disaster, the Chinese government always put a tight lid on its consequence such as number of casualties; damages....Reporting it constitute a so call crime of 'divulging state secrets' and the reporter faces prosecution. I still don't understand why they want to hide these information from the people. It is a natural disaster, act of God; what damage can it done to the stability of the government? I thought I can see some changes this time; nevertheless, China is still China no matter how hard they try. Now, I have no illusion of seeing any positive changes any time soon.

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 00:58am on 14 Jun 2008, wantafairworld wrote:

    To comment 11:

    BBC is one of the most powerful and influential media in the world, but surely it is NOT the fairest. Its constant twisted reports have seriously brainwashed the British and many people of other nations who have access to BBC. I used to trust the BBC 100 percent, but not any more - not even the weather forecast!

    For the British, China is a weird country and the Chinese are ‘strange’ creatures as if they lived on another planet. The knowledge they have on China is mostly about the dark side of this nation and its people. This kind of views commonly exists among all levels of its citizens. How could this happen? BBC plays an important part. BBC was not banned in China initially. But its distorted and biased reports disgusted and angered the Chinese government and the Chinese people. It breached the contract for allowing its broadcasting in China. No wonder it was banned.

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 03:11am on 14 Jun 2008, qjzx33xl wrote:

    Well, at this moment, I think the government is correct to not concentrate on the corruption, the school building and children death. We need concentrate the power to rebuild our homes first. I think the corruption is one of the problem that communist party can not handle or chinese people can not handle. It is not a new thing just from the communist, it happened hundreds and thounds years ago. Take a look at Taiwan, they think they are democratic, but what about the corruption of the last 8 years? How to explain this? China is becoming better as well, I think the only problem is communists they are too slow to become better.
    Lin Xu
    www.silkroadz.com
    info@silkroadz.com

    Complain about this comment

  • 40. At 04:40am on 14 Jun 2008, churchgore wrote:

    To every Chinese who is upset by the persistently disrespect shown by Westerners like James:

    James lacks the basic respect to Chinese law. If he behaves like this in the UK, I know what has happened. Westerners have no good meaning toward China. They are fundamentally racist, hateful and fearful. Just ignore them. They come to insult China. Whatever they want to achieve is doomed to fail. They turn the majority of Chinese against them. The blogging reporter is just a face. He is backed by a profound anti-China sentiment in the West. The bias is rooted in pure racism and prejudice against Chinese civilization.

    To CPC, you should do a better job of kicking the asses of such disrespectful Westerners.

    Complain about this comment

  • 41. At 04:43am on 14 Jun 2008, tclim38 wrote:

    Foreign media love to stir up Chinese internal affairs, don't they?
    If they don't have anything, they can always manufacture some.
    Stories about Chinese fighting Chinese are their favorite. Fighting against their government is even better.

    Complain about this comment

  • 42. At 05:43am on 14 Jun 2008, kimandrei wrote:

    Typical. They allowed just enough attention to get world sympathy and overshadow tibet issue, but naturally they don't need any questions raised about poor contruction and fate of the survivers.
    I wouldn't expect much openness from china in a near few decades at least. There are too many problems to admit for their government.

    Complain about this comment

  • 43. At 09:46am on 14 Jun 2008, starapplekingdom wrote:

    Hi James,

    As you might have found, in China, the government's censorship is well-supported by so many (maybe the majority of) Chinese. When the government is accused of its censorship by western society, many Chinese are willingly to stand out to speak for it. Their main arguments are:

    1) It is necessary to limit the freedom of speech in order to keep the stability of the whole society. Different voices will break down the union of the society, therefore weaken the country.

    (My comment: The freedom of speech isn’t widely appreciated in China. In my opinion, the different attitude to free express between the Chinese and the west is rooted in the different ideas in the philosophy of politics and the different believes in value.

    So far as since Aristotle, the western intellects has been reflecting on different forms of polity. And in recent three hundred years, the nature of deposit has been examined intensively and profoundly. However, China, being ruled by centralized and autocratic governments for thousands of years, never has jumped out its historical way to reflect its own system and think of other possible polities. A country like the United States will just beyond the imagination of many Chinese—if they ever took a moment to think of it seriously: how can a country be kept in order and united, while everybody can speak for themselves freely? The country must be shattered into pieces, and everything will be out of control! So Chinese can hardly imagine a society of a dynamic stability with free speech.

    Another reason why many Chinese support the government to suppress the different ideas is that Chinese culture values collectivism highly over individualism. People are taught to “see the whole picture”, to sacrifice themselves (which means to suffer quietly and patiently) to keep the stability of the whole society (which means to maintain the harmonious scene of the society, so the majority, or the benefit of the collective, won’t be disturbed). The logic goes like this: disagreements and complains will cause conflicts and trouble to the society, so we should avoid them; only by this, the whole country will be united together, therefore the country can be strengthened and make progress; if you have different ideas, or you are not treated well, suffer quietly, wait patiently, when the whole country makes a progress, you, as a small part of it, will be benefit from it, and your problem will be resolved then. So don’t complain, just wait, just sacrifice a little, and just be altruistic a little, to keep the whole picture harmonious in order to promote the whole country’s benefit.

    How the idea of personal liberty can grow out under such a burden of collectivism?)

    2) Every country’s government will censor the media and the speech, why accuse us?

    (My comment: I think, by the nature of power, every government is tempted to suppress free express, and it is true that in western world, there are governments censor the media and the speech, but there are also laws and institutions designed to against the censorship and protect the freedom of speech, and that is what is missing in China. People arguing like that are just because of their they lacking of information and understanding about how the western system works.)

    Chinese usually feel very angry when western media criticize China and/or its government. I think maybe it is partly because these people assume that news reports should reflect the whole picture, or they are biased. So the proportion of the reports about good things and bad things in China should be exactly the same as what we see in China. Well, I’d like to suggest these people make another assumption: instead of reflecting the whole picture, the responsibility of news reports should be highlighting the ignored part of a picture, and bringing out the hidden part to the public. Actually, we don’t need journalists to speak for the government—the government can do it by themselves very well-- we need them to speak for the victims—their voices can be too week to be heard. We don’t always need journalists to remind us how good the government is, we need them to raise our awareness of the aspects that should be improved, so we can be alarm enough to the problems and trouble we may be facing, therefore to urge the government to do something—just imagine maybe next time it is your turn to be one of the bereaved parents. So is it really bad that some western reporters say something bad but true about China, especially when we are not being told the whole story by the Chinese government controlled media?

    Another thing I want to mention here is that many Chinese usually don’t think they have been brainwashed, since they feel they ARE thinking for themselves while not realizing, in my opinion, how their reason is crippled by the ideology education and how their thinking is misled by the carefully filtered information

    To understand Chinese, you have to study into how Chinese are educated in their school. It is a tough work, but quite rewarding.

    Complain about this comment

  • 44. At 10:24am on 14 Jun 2008, buaadallas wrote:

    johnxue:

    I am totally agree with you, especially in the BBC's reports about Taiwan.
    Everyone can find that in BBC, there is no Taiwan island in Chinese map! And it always say"China and Taiwan" which means Taiwan is an independent country! That's rediculous! Even UK admit Taiwan is a part of China(in the constitution of Republic of China(Taiwan), they also consider mainland of China is a part of them), but the BBC misleads everyone, and separates China into 'China' and 'Taiwan'.
    In the inauguration of Ma ying-jiu("president of ROC(Taiwan)"), Mr.Ma admit both poeple in Taiwan and mainland China belong to Chinese. But if you search BBC's report, there was nothing about it!

    Complain about this comment

  • 45. At 10:29am on 14 Jun 2008, mindz0ne wrote:

    1stly, I was thrilled I can finally once again access the BBC from China a few months back (though World Service had all along been accessible). Anyway...

    I think everyone leaving comments here are biased to some extent, including myself! :)

    James is a reporter. He has to form an opinion for his reporting. Its his job after all to access and 'try' to be as unbiased as possible. But lets be fair, how many of us can EVER be totally 'unbiased'. Let anyone that has never sinned before, cast the 1st stone! ;)

    Isn't the whole point of 'openness' to provide anyone and everyone with a venue of expressing their opinion without fear or prejudice? I find (here's my bias) that there are many here that attach too much emphasis on James, the person. Isn't it simply more effective to offer ur own opinions more constructively, rather than make comments on his professionalism, ethics, etc.?

    Few points are worth noting though:
    1. Different cultures of the world should not be judged thru the eyes of any single culture. West judged China; now the Chinese ppl want to judge the West thru Chinese eyes? That's not right either. China's culture is much more complex than what is visible on the surface.

    2. Priorities, priorities, priorities. Commemorating the dead and bringing about closure is important. But making sure those not dead have a future is even more important.

    3. Us 'common folks' sometimes cannot the the 'big picture'. Social unrest comes in many forms. Semi-agro societies found in the Sichuan quake area.... well, lets not go there or I might be flattened by flamers. :)

    4. Everyone wants to make everyone all better. FACT. Making everything better for everyone is not possible FACT. Making it so OVER NITE is IMPOSSIBLE. FACT. China is opening up. FACT. China cannot open up over nite. FACT.

    Done :)
    BTW: Me Chinese too. Just not from China. Though been living here for a few years. FACT! haha..

    Complain about this comment

  • 46. At 1:56pm on 14 Jun 2008, Rikey wrote:

    I am afraid you are too quick to critise Chinese Government. Considering your coverage during the past months eversince the torch relay began, I am somewhat becoming skeptic about the fact that your report is unbiased.

    Complain about this comment

  • 47. At 11:16pm on 14 Jun 2008, RecluseBlake wrote:

    Dear James
    You have the right to say what you want to say, but do please remember that you are still in a mode typically shaped by Anglo-Saxon,or rather, western culture, which somehow prevents you from getting a clear picture of what's behind the truth. To be in fairness, you can hardly think the way Chinese think. Just compare the size and population of even the whole Europe and China, and you will see how difficult it is to manage so huge a nation with such a great number of people politically and economically. Imbued with a cultural heritage in terms of traditions and customs,China has little in common with the Western World in many aspects. As a foreigner, especially a westerner, you can never successfully probe into the inner world of Chinese or get even an inkling of what they really bear in mind. Don't jump to conclusion in a westerner's point of view and don't be so sarcastic with well-shielded blame. True is the fact that it is both theoratically and practically unmanagable to bridge the cultural gap, yet I still hope that some sort of objective views can be aired next time I am here. Lastly, I want you to know that the eyes somtimes cheat!

    Complain about this comment

  • 48. At 07:10am on 15 Jun 2008, jiu3gui3 wrote:

    As a journalist working for a famous press, Mr James Reynold, you are expected to make a report without prejudice.

    From your wording, I just can judge you expect something happened to prove your theory.

    This year is never expected to be so hard. Every Chinese recognise the great trouble this year which must be like people hasn't had to cope with for nearly 20 years. The pressure from Politics/Economics, the noise of foreign/domestic, the debate on the left and right make things more complicated that expected.

    Earthquake/Riots/Flood/High inflation/Oil soar/Olympic games, so many things to handle. Shall we start to handle one by one?

    Complain about this comment

  • 49. At 07:56am on 15 Jun 2008, amistupid wrote:

    James,

    I think you are are only one who has been seriously considering to get things right and in an objective way --- among the journalists who take the challenge of covering China topics --- either because it is their job or because there is a passion.

    But the title of your this post "Shut us out" reminds me of the opium war that British Conolists imposed on China. How come? You tell me. As far as I can tell, the war started because the chinese government shut "us" out from doing opium business in China.

    As for the reporting freedom, I agree that things in China are not as open as that in Europe and America.

    But for one thing, thinking about this, were Americans and journalists allowed to go to ground zero freely in the aftermath of 911?

    Another thing to consider is the tradition and complications in the chinese society --- putting the type of governments aside, I do not think things like the Tiananman square
    event would ever occur in MODERN history in the western world. How come? You tell me.
    There is a generally accepted and unwritten rule to protest, to compromise, and to lobby the government and the politicians. People do not cross the line, right. Well, you may say, who cares about crossing the COMMUNISTS line --- this is where your colleagues (those china-haters) always get it wrong.

    Hope my point makes some sense.






    Complain about this comment

  • 50. At 6:24pm on 15 Jun 2008, chinawatcher wrote:

    The Chinese government have agreed to host the Olympic Games. They know that this will bring in foreign press and that those press have different ideals from their own.
    They cannot therefore begin to complain if they start to get 'negative' press.

    Complain about this comment

  • 51. At 7:48pm on 15 Jun 2008, thompeg wrote:

    Wonderful reporting as usual James.
    If the authoritarian Chinese regime can "manage" reporting and access in relation to a natural disaster (in which the world shares the sadness), no wonder that regime can "stage-manage" so many "cover-ups" about other sadnesses , such as lack of human rights, genocide in Tibet, not allowing Chinese access to internet and foreign news ( the few exceptions for the sake of the Olympic Committee are so hypocritical........I wonder how long they will last after 2008 ??).
    I read in answers to nearly all your articles, James, the voice of some Chinese people who seem to think they should have pride in their "regime".
    I always pity them----never to hear the truth from the outside world, never to have freedom of speech, never to vote, never to remember how many young people died , just because they asked for freedom, in
    Tiananmen Square less than 20 years ago (and democracy continues to be trodden on). What sort of people are these Chinese , who can just turn their heads away------as they do about so much horror; and now we find that the regime are even "interfering" in natural disasters with which the world wants to help: because they are afraid of foreign "elements" once again having an affect on Chinese who are controlled, and who should not be given too much access to western views and values......just in case they call once again for freedom in Tiananmen Square ......and the tanks are needed. What a country to live in !!

    Complain about this comment

  • 52. At 8:53pm on 15 Jun 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    James:

    That fact is: At least China allow the media some freedom to cover the earthquakes in that region (i am sorry for not remembering the name)....

    Complain about this comment

  • 53. At 8:54pm on 15 Jun 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    At least Chinese government allowed you and the other media outlets, to cover the majority of the story.

    Complain about this comment

  • 54. At 8:58pm on 15 Jun 2008, Cato2008 wrote:

    Hi James,

    It is understandable that the bereaved parents want to be heard and for someone to pay for their pain. But it also seems unlikely that they can be objective about things. We need to keep things in perspective. About 100,000 people died, of which a relatively small percentage were children. Of course, the loss of even one child is terrible, and if human corruption has abetted nature in causing these deaths, it is still the more tragic. But before we can judge whether these children really were victims of shoddy construction (and corrpution), we need to know what proportion of school buildings collapsed, relative to all other buildings. You talked in your report about one school that collapsed when all the other building in the area were fine. This might be true, but we need to know whether it is representative.

    In general you need to give some context for your stories. One journalist having a hard time with the police doesn't do justice to the scale of the disaster and the chinese govt's massive response.

    By the way, before we start finger pointing at other govts, we might remember that if your colleague had argued with British police, she might have been detained for 42 days instead of 45 mins, and instead of being given two reasons, be given none!

    Complain about this comment

  • 55. At 9:05pm on 15 Jun 2008, otherchinese wrote:

    As a Chinese, I’ve known that that state-run media is not fond of making negative portraits of anything that happened in China. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any reports that reveal the dark side of the country. Although the resistance of keeping a perfect picture of the government and the country is huge, there are journalists who are doing their best to try to push the boundaries. Although there is a tighter control on the reporting on school building investigations now, I think the media report will not go back to the pre-earthquake era. According to a recent poll by one of the major newspaper in China, http://www.infzm.com/, investigation on the shoddy building constructions ranks as the most concerned issue (58%). But it is somewhat puzzled me that on the webpage, the newspaper chose to highlight in red the 2nd (27%) popular issues by the online voters, which is the transparency in distributing the earthquake relief donation money.

    Thanks for reporting on these important issues. Without media asking hard questions, important things will slip away without our notice.

    Complain about this comment

  • 56. At 02:14am on 16 Jun 2008, yuanzuo wrote:

    Dear Mr Reynolds,

    Is this yet another example of the BBC's double standards?

    The BBC appoints unelected moderators to vet all the messages it receves before posting them, and those whose messages are not posted receive no feedback as to whay this was so. When the Chinese government adopts a similar policy, the BBC cries 'foul'!

    In any case, the real problem is not 'freedom of speech' or 'democracy' but the unwillingness or the inablilty of Western observers to understand, that the most basic human right is not freedom of speech (unlimitied or otherwise)', nor 'democracry' but the maintenance of order and stability. Today, China is once again trying to achieve a 'haromonious' society.

    Western observers routinely accuse the Chinese who support this view of being brainwashed by a communist authoritarian government.

    But in fact they have been brainwashed with this notion since time immemorial

    Confucius said repeatedly that he was not an innovator, but a transmitter. The social harmony he sought to transmit was to be brought about by the practice of propriety and he rites. But already over two and a half thousand years ago, he pointed out that these could not be practised until people had adequate food and clothing.

    In spite of food riots all over the world, (including Europe), the West seems unable to understand that freedom of speech and democracy mean little to people who do not have enough to eat or to wear.

    It has become fashionable recently for some historians to ascribe the 'freedom of speech' and 'democracy' in the West today and the lack of it in China to what they call enlightnement values.

    They conveniently forget that the enlightenment ideals came to Europe from
    China through the wiritngs of the Jesuit missionaries in thier lettres édifiantes, and the debates between Voltaire, Roussseau, Montesquieu, and all the other French enlightenment writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

    I hope the BBC moderators will allow you and others to read these comments.

    I have to give your credit for making a much more sincere attemt to be impartial than you were doing when you first started your reports, doing what the the BBC has been doing for the last ten years or more: i.e. giving great prominence to everything that is bad, and making snide asides about anything that might be interpreted as having a good aspect.

    Yours sincerely,

    yuanzuo



    Complain about this comment

  • 57. At 06:16am on 16 Jun 2008, caerdydd08 wrote:

    It's always easy to turn to looking for scapegoat after huge disasters. Guess after London submay bomb, your people were also yelling for government to take full responsibilities.
    Parents' feedback is understandable, but there is no need to exaggerate this in your report. Also you said media is hiding this, but actually right after the quake, we could see lots of reports or blog articles exposing the poor quality of school buildings. Do you really believe in nowadays (i.e with internet, mobile SMS, etc.) any people or any government can hide those things?
    Believe every development in mankind history is based on some lessons, even your so-called most democratic western governments have so many dirty biz behind. You can't build a country by second, you can't build a nice country by second, all of us need time to improve, to change the wrong things.
    But guess you western reports will still be so blind to look.
    Btw, you have time going to dujiangyan, you have resource i.e. transportations going there, have you done anything good or worthwhile to help the local people or at least to calm them down?? Guess not.

    Complain about this comment

  • 58. At 08:18am on 16 Jun 2008, nonfamiliar wrote:

    i think i've worked out how people are defining 'bias' on this blog. anything that is critical of the chinese government is biased. any criticism of the chinese government is discredited because of this 'bias'. is the belief that everything the chinese government do is right, or merely above criticism? or is it more that nobody has a right to point out their faults because doing so insults everyone in china?

    maybe it's as simple as: 'no foreigner has a right to an opinion about china.' or, in this entry it's starting to sound like 'no foreigner can write a blog about their experiences in china unless they were all good.'

    either way, it's not so much an argument as an appeal to emotion. even if i risked insulting my drunken friend, i'd still tell him he was too drunk to drive if i thought it would stop him putting his passengers and himself at risk - in my country, there is no honour in protecting this man's feelings. maybe it's different in china.

    either way, it is clear that this national sport of harrasing foreign journalists is not likely to get pro-china content in international newspapers.

    Complain about this comment

  • 59. At 4:50pm on 16 Jun 2008, wantafairworld wrote:

    To comment 36, snsgenuis:

    Well done! I fully agree with you.

    Complain about this comment

  • 60. At 04:17am on 17 Jun 2008, bluejeansbj wrote:

    In response to Post 51:

    I happen to be one of the Chinese that you
    "pity on", as I do take pride in the country that I live in.

    One thing that I have never been able to figure out is how come Chinese like myself are always labeled as "never to hear the truth from the outside world"? What makes you so confident that you are closer to the truth than we are? Have you been to China ever? Do you read Chinese newspapers, literature, or what Chinese TV? How many live Chinese have you run accross in your life? We on the other hand do have access to both sides of the story. We watch CNN, BBC, we read Wall Street Journal, we even follow this blog by a BBC journalist because we are interested in a foreign journalist's view to our country. Have you ever read a blog by a CCTV news presenter? For your information a lot of them do keep a blog, where postings do not need to be pre-moderated.

    The other thing that I have never been able to understand is in the western people's mind, who is to judge the government of a country? I'm not saying that foreigners should not critize another country's government, but shouldn't the view of the people of that country and subject to the ruling of that government also be taken into consideration? and probably be given priority? If the majority of Chinese are happy with their government, shouldn't this government receive some credit? Isn't the very role of the government to serve its people? How come everytime when Chinese speaks up for their government they are automaticly dismissed as "never to hear the truth from the outside world'?

    BTW, your information on the Chinese government's repsonse to the earthquake is not accurate: foreign aids were accepted, and foreign rescuing teams from Japan, Russia (may other countries as well) went to Sichuan. In fact, one interesting phenomenon after the earthquake is that the relationship between Japan and China, especially at the non-official level, has significantly improved. This is because the friendship and kindness expressed by the Japanese people were genuinely felt by the Chinese. Even though the Japanes rescue team did not save any single person, the Chinese were sincerely grateful for their efforts.

    Complain about this comment

  • 61. At 04:51am on 17 Jun 2008, taobo33 wrote:

    nonfamiliar :
    Please allow me to correct you as a Chinese reader of BBC.
    Personally I have never said such"anything is..." blah blah i don't know what other Chinese say but hey~~ stop generalise Chinese people and this is what most foreign usually do.

    Besides it's not news that some foreign journalists don't like stick to pro-China content but the other way around.

    people are here to offer help, advise but not generalisation. Especially refering China issues. I think James would agree on that.

    Regards

    Complain about this comment

  • 62. At 08:42am on 17 Jun 2008, buaadallas wrote:

    to nonfamiliar:
    Not only BBC can represent foreign media.
    I suggest American National Public Broadcast reports to you: http://www.npr.org/blogs/chengdu/, that's the reports from them. You will find how huge the differences between James and other reports!

    Complain about this comment

  • 63. At 10:57pm on 17 Jun 2008, lhobdrak wrote:

    James,

    Do you really think this exercise is working? Based on your feedback, it is obvious that the majority of your responses are from some of the 30,000 net police that China has under its payroll to control the internet.

    To Post 60:

    BBC has a moderator and the rules are clearly spelled out. Based on the feedbacks, it doesn't look like BBC is trying to influence any opinion. On the other hand, your employer has you working hard on putting up nonsense in an effort to discredit an reputable journalist.
    Question for you:
    Can I go on Xinhua website and post my views on Tibet. I am tibetan and cherish the dream of nationhood, as guaranteed by the human rights convention by U.N. Or how about critical comments about the illegal and unlawful imprisonment of human rights activist Hu Jia? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7327763.stm

    I've tried so many times, no go, nothing to tell me that my post is reviewed or anything. China always work in secrecy, that's the PROBLEM. It is a group of corrupt people that are keeping the population under control. Ordinary chinese understand this, it is the few that has a vested interest in keeping their livelyhood that won't.

    Face it, China has no human rights. By the way, freedom of speech and media is more important than stability by force from repressive regime.

    Complain about this comment

  • 64. At 10:16am on 18 Jun 2008, bokaroseani wrote:

    The problems in Chinese society are structural as are problems anywhere else. An inquiry here and an inquiry there about the tofu buildings would hardly make things better if the system of accountability isn't changed. The current system makes officials accountable to their bosses in Beijing rather than the people who they are supposed to serve.

    Complain about this comment

  • 65. At 9:49pm on 18 Jun 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    to post 60...

    the bbc moderators check everything out because of purposes of keeping every thing clean and not allowing improper things on to the site...

    Complain about this comment

  • 66. At 3:44pm on 19 Jun 2008, starapplekingdom wrote:

    "Without free speech no search for truth is possible... no discovery of truth is useful... Better a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day, but the denial slays the life of the people, and entombs the hope of the race."

    -- Charles Bradlaugh

    Complain about this comment

  • 67. At 09:08am on 22 Jun 2008, lisagita wrote:


    Dear # 63 Ihobdrak,

    I visited Tibet in August last year. Tibet has spectacular scenery, people are nice and warm generally but the environment there is very harsh for economic development. The top soil is thin, strong UV rays, thin oxygen and most mountains are bear and winter is bitterly cold. I can imagine the peoples' life there must be very tough. They could only grow a kind of "wheat" called "jin ke" for a few months in a year. There is no sea port for export or trade, no connection with the outside world.

    I observed the people could practise their religion freely, the lamas chanted in temples, old people walked on the streets turning a small wheel in their hands, and prilgrims did the kneeling, bowing and prostrating along the Qing Zhang highway from Qing Hai to Lhasa. Tibetans writtings were everywhere, on buildings, buses, advertisement boards etc. We went to Segatse (2nd biggest city) and saw the residents there were all Tibetans. Their houses were built and decorated in the Tibetan colourful style with small windows to keep the strong UV rays out.


    We visited a very old temple on the west side of the potola palace, carved out from caves, and paid our respects there. As usual, we donated "lamp oil" money for the temple, voluntarily. Of course, some of our friends paid the lama to bless them etc. After all no matter how holy a temple is and want to be detached from the mortal world, it still needs to have economic assistance to sustain. So we did it willingly and happily.

    I thought to myself, Tibet could not survive on its own. It has to have transportation links with the ouside world to survive. With its rich culture, the best way to give a better living standard to the people is tourism which create employment. Revenue generated from tourism can be used to upkeep and maintain the cultural relics and beautiful temples, some of which really need to be repaired. In fact, I could see the temples takings were not bad from the tourists.

    I was told the airport was built by the Chinese even though the western experts did some techinical surveys and told China that it was not possible to built an airport due to the tough terrain, high altitude and harsh climatic conditions etc. Another link with the outside world was the Qing Zhang rail way which is really a great engineering work. Imagine hauling up those building and construction materials and contructing the rail way in that high altitude when you could hardly breathe in that thin oxygen air. The Chinese should be given credit for these 2 gigantic projects that bring better economic development to Tibet. In fact, we found Tibetans and lamas also in the plane and train. These two transportation links allow Tibet to connect to other parts of China and the outside world as well as bring economic benefits to the Tibetans.

    I was told by the locals that average life span has extended from something like 36 years to 60 years or more, and livelihood also improved.

    The Tibetans are given the priveldge of free education, and not restricted to one child policy, unlike the Han Chinese who have to fight for everything and under many restrictive policies. As long as the Tibetans work hard, they too can make a better living. In my trip to Juizhaigou in 2006, our Tibetan guide was a very confident young handsome man, who came to Chengdu at age 13 to study. He made it good, and boasted to us his income and that he travelled to other countries.

    You said it is your cherished dream to have Tibetan nationhood, as guaranteed by human right convention by UN. I suppose you meant independence. You should know and all the 1.3 billion Chinese know that this will only remain as your dream. Tibet is part of China since the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century. The Dalai Lama also knows this, that is why is not asking for independence. Even if the Chinese Govt gives Tibet independence, the 1.3 billion Chinese will not allow. They will just walk into Tibet. I think you must be a young Tibetan living outside Tibet, and that is why you have the notion of independence. Most of the Tibetans we came across were quite happy with their daily life.

    The UN don't guarantee anything to anyone. The "guarantee" was just stated in a convention and written on paper. Tibetans must face reality and work hard to better their lives. And education is the tool to do so. As more Tibetans attain higher education, they can prove their worth and work their way up the Govt. and influence policies to change the life of its people. You may say not possible because of corrupted officials blocking the way. But take heart, China is changing and there will be a day when things will improve, meanwhile, the Tibetans must continue to upgrade themselve in education in all fields if they want a better life. Be part of the large Chinese community by working smarter and harder and be pragmatic so that the lives of Tibetans are better each day. Of course if you are outside Tibet then this encouragement is not relevant, and you can continue to shout "independence" without much help to the Tibetans in Tibet.








    Complain about this comment

  • 68. At 10:33am on 23 Jun 2008, yangshang wrote:

    After reading all the feedbacks on this blog, it's obvious that chinese govt. is closely working to bolster their reputation and good intentions. No wonder 80% of the comments are pro-goverment, pro-greater China ("diverse but united"), pro-post 1949 official history, and pro- anything that connects with asserting China military and economic progress from the last decade.
    Like in Russia, the Chinese officials and media has succeeded in turning a whole generation into a nationalist crowd ready to tear to pieces anything that questions the country's right direction.
    Should North-Korea become more open, you'll find the same reaction and behaviour on the internet. China has the physical and financial resources to flood the international (not-western) media with "non-biased, objective and constructive criticism". Read between the lines...

    Complain about this comment

  • 69. At 02:50am on 28 Jun 2008, Laobubu wrote:

    This morning your sports correspondent, Paddy Addadoyne (sorry I don't know how to spell his name - but I do know roughly how to pronounce it) treated us to the usual BBC slovenly pronunciation of Chinese names. For Zheng Jie, the Wimbledon giant killer, who has just beaten top seed Ana Ivanovic, we had something like "Je (French "I")-ang Jee". This is just so far off the mark where does one begin. Paddy can pronounce Ana Ivanovic, so why can't he make more effort with a Chinese name? Because he does not care. Since this problem is so prevalent in the BBC World Service, I conclude that the whole of the BBC does not care either. The only comfort I can take from all this is that at least during the Beijing Olympics (that's Beijing not "Beige-ing") Chinese people will not have to listen to your radio service murdering their names, because you cannot receive the World Service in mainland China. And the ban should continue until you start taking the pronunciation of Chinese names seriously. Shame on you BBC, shame!

    Complain about this comment

  • 70. At 7:54pm on 30 Jun 2008, democracy101 wrote:

    James:

    Why do you file negative report on the Chinese gov't.? Don't you know Chinese are behind their government as long as misfortune befalls on other fellow Chinese, it's someone else disaster! The Chinese quest for personal wealth and stability out trouces the truth because it is no consequence of thiers to suffer. As you can see most of the respondents to your blog criticized you for your lack of courtesy as a guest of China, your bias, your ignorance and your intent to do harm to the Chinese society. The Chinese folk icon of three monkies - see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil, actually bespeaks of the level of secrecy Chinese are willing to tolerate in their society in politics and family dynamic. Traditional Chinese homes were built with high walls and a courtyard in the center for air and sunlight. This is so residents could have privacy, meaning to keep from the outside world scences of family violence including murder, sexual abuse of female young servants, suicide, mental illness and all other unspeakable shames. Although this was the domestic scene from feudal China long ago, the sensitivity to shame and secrecy is still very much a common pschic scar with Chinese. So, there comes the connection. By exposing the truth about China, you have shamed all the Chinese, so then the vocifierous defense of the Chinese government by many overseas Chinese is the result. I have seen over and over that criticism of the Chinese government are felt as if the individual is the target of shame. Your blog will not be appreciated or understood by the great majority of overseas Chinese who obviously have access to free press and who are knowledgeable of its importance in a democracy. This blending of personal and national psyche will always be a major hindrance to China becoming an open society and an eventual democratic government.

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.