Kaimay Terry Writing on Tibet
Editor's Note: Mrs Terry's article was published as an Op Ed on StarTribune on April 11, 2008. Here is the link to the article titled "Hostility toward China will not improve matters"
Mrs Terry is a former president of the Chinese American Association of Minnesota.
In the past few weeks we have witnessed in the public media a dramatic surge in public protest supporting the Tibetan riots in Lhasa. Lately, extinguishing the Olympic flame has become a ¡°blood sport¡± for various protesting groups under the newly energized movement of ¡°Free Tibet¡±. A few months ago, Tibet was not on the radar screen, it was the push to blame China, host of the Olympics for the quagmire in Dafur.
How is one to make sense of this sudden burst of intense hostility aimed directly at China as the host of the 2008 Olympics? In addition to the usual protesters of any ¡°causes¡±, drawn like moths to the flame, the U.S. speaker of the House issued immediate public condemnation of China after a personal meeting with the Dalai Lama in India, and our Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton has added another issue for her sagging campaign.
China is not a perfect country. It is a modern society in the making, evolving, experimenting and adjusting. Since the 80s, Chinese leadership has managed to loosen the strictures of an ideologically bound communistic society, unleashing the energy and hard working discipline of its 1.2 billion citizens to modernize. In engineering the redirection of the Titanic, although not without mishaps, it did not collide with icebergs.
Focused and determined to confront its economic, social and governing challenges (from pollution, corruption, to limited natural resources) China has made spectacular progress in less than one generation. Over one billion people have escaped abject poverty. Along with the huge financial successes of the early industrialists and entrepreneurs, sizable migration from rural areas to the cities (as in any societies that undergo industrialization), wages been rising, a sizable middle class has emerged, and property rights have been written into law. Each year more and more Chinese students are entering the universities and more of its citizens are traveling abroad ¡°to see the world¡±. According to the Economist poll of forecasters, China is projected to have a 9.8% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increase for 2008, the highest in world economies, and a balance sheet that is the envy of any government.
In human history, any major upset of the world order of this magnitude, no matter how peaceful the change, causes great anxiety among political leaders and citizens. Is it possible that China and the Olympic flame have become the lightingrod for the general discontent and anxiety back home for many countries? And Lhasa¡¯s timely riot has provided the tinder.
Globalization, an irreversible trend, as industrialization of over a hundred ago in the West, has up lifted huge segment of humanity from abject poverty. But there have been dislocations along the way that create resentment and need to be addressed.
In an election year, the electorate and thoughtful media must ask our current and potential political leaders some hard questions? What is their strategic thinking and plan to keep America prosperous in the age of globalization? What paradigm shift is required in dealing with both the income (real GDP growth, not just printing more money or levy more taxes) and the spending side of the equation? In short, how shall we keep our place in the sun and live in harmony with others in the rapidly changing world?
Retreating to protectionism for political expediency or blaming one branch of our government or political party will not serve America¡¯s interests well. Shifting focus to China bashing for hosting the Olympics using the Tibet fuse is not the best way to reclaim our moral high ground. Further, it is offensive to the sense of fairness to all fair-minded people of the world. It will not solve the prickly relationship between China and its semiautonomous region-Tibet (China has over 40 minority groups)or our own pressing and serious challenges at home and abroad. And in the fervor to extinguish the Olympic flame, the ideals of individual athletic competition from around the world have become but a mere passing thought.
5109 Ridge Road, Minneapolis, MN 55436 952-933-4963
April 8, 2008
P.S. I have included two pieces of writing. One by Parenti, a Ph.D. from Yale, professor and author deals with Tibetan Buddhism. The other is a recent Editoral from Hindu, an Indian paper on the Tibetan riot and the exiles in India. I sincerely hope that the newspaper editors will find time to read them and if policy allows, put the URL in a foot note form for your readers.