Serena Freewomyn

Protestors Say "Free Tibet!"

Filed By Serena Freewomyn | April 08, 2008 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: banner drop, Chinese gays and lesbians, Olympic torch, protest, Tibet

Protestors in San Francisco climbed the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday to drop banners in support of a free Tibet.

Three of the protestors were arrested, despite the fact that this was a nonviolent protest. Protests have also taken place in London and Paris as the Olympic torch has passed through those cities. And Students for a Free Tibet, which organized the San Francisco banner drop, has protests planned throughout the day today and Wednesday. But how likely is it that these protests are going to persuade the Chinese government?

Video of the protest and more after the jump.

As optimistic as I am, I seriously doubt that the protests are going to do much to change the hearts of China's government officials. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a China hater. I don't buy into the idea that the Chinese government is made up of heartless, evil communists who like to eat babies and kick puppies. I'm also not a witless China lover, either. I just think Westerners need to be realistic about the potential for changing China's policy towards Tibet.

What is the purpose of these kind of protests? Members of SFT are obviously willing to put their lives on the line for this cause. You wouldn't catch me climbing the Golden Gate Bridge. But if the Chinese government isn't persuaded by the Dalai Lama (and who doesn't love the Dalai Lama?), how persuasive can these kind of daredevil tactics be?

If you disagree with me (and I hope you do), you can sign the petition that's been going around to urge your particular head of state to support a Free Tibet. (Given that our head of state is a chump, I'm equally dubious). But hey, you can at least put your name on the list.


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I don't really understand the value of these kinds of protests either. The Chinese government doesn't have any reason to care about what these people are doing, just as GWB proved that he doesn't have any reason to care about protesters leading up to the iraq war.

It's frustrating...

Oh, and Free Tibet? I'll take it!

Haw haw haw.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 8, 2008 11:55 AM

The relationship between Tibet and China is complex and has been for centuries. Tibet was never really "free" of China in recent centuries, but was always a tributary to China's loosely knit empire. It must be remembered the manner in which the Dalai Lama is chosen is, to say the least, obscure to most people in that it must be a child who becomes the next and no one knows exactly who that person will be and if he is yet born. The Chinese are playing a waiting game, which is something they are very good at doing, planning to place their own candidate as the next Dalai Lama upon the death of the present one. What the Chinese want, of course, is to demonstrate that there is a single "China" and any deviation from this is heresy. This Chinese attitude has even effected the recent presidential elections in Taiwan going to a candidate who will foster close relations with China as Taiwan seeks access to this enormous trading market. So as certain Tibetans protest the occupation by China other countries freely seek closer relations with them. The Chinese do not think in terms of the "morality" of any issue, but rather the ultimate success of their plan. The Chinese freely buy oil from Africa not caring at all that their partners are repressing their own people.

By playing their waiting game Nixon came to them, the British ceded Hong Kong without a shot being fired and Tibet has been fully under Chinese control since long before most reading this blog were born. Taiwan, which I still remember being referred to as "free China" will now have closer relations with them as well which will lead to ultimate reannexation of Taiwan. Just because something is inevitable does not make it right, but I forsee no way the Chinese will ever change course and the protesters cries will never be known to the majority of Han Chinese.

I believe the real issue is civil rights for all Chinese and the slower absorbtion of Hong Kong and Taiwanese ideas into accepted Chinese culture will change conditions there at a slow steady pace. Already conditions are improving (very gradually) for Chinese workers and there is talk already from the Wal Mart suppliers that they will move factories to lower wage countries like Vietnam.

In that the single largest holder of our enormous foreign debt is China I would look to no United States President, regardless of party, coming into any disagreement with China over any important issue for at least my lifetime. Our capitalist system, which fortunately had enshrined our Bill of Rights when we were a backward agrarian country (or we would not have rights today) gives Americans unprecedented freedom which we give lip service to around the world. In reality the only thing we want free is trade and goods as cheaply as we can obtain them. I recommend "The Art of Happiness" written by the Dalai Lama.

The choice between real politik and ideals, that is what it comes down to. You can't eat an ideal, it won't clothe your child or put a roof over your head, and frankly, that is what it comes down to as well.

People need to eat, want to clothe their chldren and have a roof over their head. If this country really believed in all those fine ideals we spout off about, well we wouldn't have homelessness, hunger, the needy and poor in our cities.

Instead we have corruption, greed, pollution, division. We are Not a free nation. All of us are slaves to filthy lucre, the almighty dollar. The love of money inflicts even those who claim to be our spiritual guides.

"Send me a dollar or god will take me away!". Didn't Oral Roberts pull that one on his flock a few times?

Salvation can be yours for $19.95, plus shipping and handling! Call today 1-800-I-LUV-YUR-MONEY.

Go ahead, protest all your little heart desires, Free Tibet, Free Switzerland, Free Oklahoma, free them all.

We still end up paying in the end.

I generally am not particularly fond of these types of protests, but this case is actually a bit of an exception for me--it prevents the Chinese government from having its cake and eating it too--they want to keep their repressive dictatorial regime (btw, how often do people talk about their repressed Muslim minority in the northwest, relative to their repressed Buddhist minority in the southeast?), but they want to have the Olympics be this wonderful PR situation where China's wonder and glor is advertised to the world. These protests are about telling the Chinese government that it has to decide between a sterling international reputation and human rights.

As far as the long term stability of the country, that's going to have a lot to do with how the rapidly growing Chinese middle class feels about it's goverment's policies. They are beginning to become aware of just how much of an effect that their government's export-motivated currency manipulation is having on their quality of life, and they are beginning to get a bit upset about it. Also, the Chinese are as dependent on the US goverment for a market as the US is upon the Chinese as a source of cheap goods. An all out economic war between the two would be a disaster for both sides. I really doubt that it happens without a truly severe provocation.

I do wish that we had just revoked MFN following Tienamen, however.

In that the single largest holder of our enormous foreign debt is China I would look to no United States President, regardless of party, coming into any disagreement with China over any important issue for at least my lifetime.

Robert, this is exactly the point. The US has never been serious about criticizing China because we import way more from them than we export to them. They have billions invested in our stock market, they own a large share of our currency, and we owe them a shit ton of money. This isn't just a Bush issue, although his regime has caused our foreign debt to quadruple because of his war for oil.

Bittergradstudent, this is exactly why MFN will never be revoked, especially not now that China is a member of the WTO and has defacto permanent MFN as a benefit of membership.

Some of you seem to think its a joke to want ones homeland free of who you believe are foreign invaders. It however is not The Chinese have ruled Tibet as a colony and the Tibetans are the native people who must be done away with or put in there place. So laugh if you want its only China after all and we GLBT folks don’t care about foreign policy after all and all of that nonsense. This also falls under the myth that GLBT shouldn’t care about the economy. Hmm how many of you would stand up for your homeland that you have never even lived in? These folks are in there minds true patriots.

Carry on
Caty

I'm an SFT member, but I have to agree that these protests probably won't change any minds in China... I think they're aimed at Americans though - the point is to raise consciousness in the US about Tibet's plight.

Serena--

yes, I understand that t would be impossible to revoke MFN now. But in 1989 it could have been done. Like everything else, we turn a blind eye to a problem until it becomes a crisis.

Cathy,

I don't think it is a joke, and I do sympathise with the plight of the Tibetian people. I was also sympathetic to the plight of the people of eastern Europe after WW 2, when the western powers basically sold them down the river to Stalin because they were not willing to fight another war for their freedom.

You think Tibet has it bad, think about Poland, it's history has been one of invasion, partition and foreign domination for centuries. They finally have gotten what should be a lasting period of self determination that may last more than a few decades.

Another good example is Vietnam. First the Chinese, then the French, with but brief periods free from foreign domination and agression. Hell, after they kicked the colonial powers ( I include America as such.) out, and reunited the country, the Chinese tried again, though their heart wasn't really in it this time.

China has a long history of dominating the countries around it, at least the ones in easy reach. Who knows what the future may hold.

And my ancestors "native countries", has been invaded and partitioned by foreign powers. It was only reunited after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even now though, there are still parts of it that have been partitioned off to other countries.

Of course it couldn't be considered a victim of aggresion, since it started both of the world wars.

To the victor go the spoils.

The bridge protest as well as the torch protest made headlines around the world (except in China). That was their purpose - to bring attention to the human rights abuses of the Chinese government. It succeeded.

Bittergrad: at the rally in SF they had a speaker from West Turkistan talking about China's invasion of that Muslim country that happened around the same time as Tibet.

Fortunately I work at a non-profit and they were fine with me spending 2 days out protesting!