Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Misquote Unquote

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  • Paul Campbell,

    I think that someone has to tell Key that "I was misquoted" is a bit like "the dog ate my homework" - you might get away with it once - after that you're blaming the very people who you depend on to get your message across

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2173 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Ethnic Tibetans certainly have a grievance. But so, arguably, do native Fijians, and we'd hardly be comfortable with them wreaking ethnically-targeted havoc on Indian businesses in their towns. (Or would the better comparison be with the Israeli-occupied territories? I don't know.)

    Er, Israel would be the better comparison surely? The Palestinians had the Israeli's forced upon them, just as the Tibetans have had the Chinese forced upon them. I'm not aware of the Fijians having Indians forced upon them. (Actually, I'm ignorant of how the Indians came to be in Fiji. I presume it was as cheap labour?) <standsbyforschooling>

    But your Tibet-Was-No-Paradise comments are also apt. I forget who/where (BFM?)(PAS?) but someone has previously pointed out (during his last visit to NZ) that the Dalai Lama has some very conservative views on homosexuality that don't sit well with the image we have of him ...

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    So its NOT OK for the United States to force regime change to get rid of an Arab dictator in Iraq but it is fine for China to get rid of a repressive theocracy? And it is hardly fair to claim that the way Tibet was run in 1949 is a reason for keeping Tibet occupied in 2008. No one (including the Dalai Lama) is saying any new government of Tibet would be a simple return to theocracy. At the end of the day the Tibetan’s see themselves as a distinct ethnic and cultural group in a homogeneous location. The mass migration of Han Chinese has been a deliberate attempt at cultural genocide and it isn't surprising the native Tibetans resent their presence.

    And what's so bad about giving Tibet autonomy/independence anyway? We (as in "we, the Western alliance of freedom loving democracies" - that might sound naive, but I am old enough to have visited the GDR and believe me, I know what side of the Berlin Wall I preferred) spent five decades and untold treasure confronting the USSR until it collapsed. The peoples of the Baltic States and the ex-Warsaw Pact threw off a brutal oppressor and the peoples of the Trans-Caucasus, Ukraine, White Russia and all the -stans created new nations. It wasn't the end of the world, and the USSR was consigned to the dustbin of history, where it firmly belongs. Would it really matter if Tibet were allowed to determine its own course? Would it really matter if even China itself broke up into several smaller, freer countries? It might matter to a bunch of brutal oligarchs in Beijing who dream of global power and would have to do without an extra band at their annual military parade but that’s about all as far as I can see.

    At lot of people here, during the Urewera terror raid fiasco argued that if Tame Iti and co want to set up a separate country in the Urewera's, well let them. There was a general chorus of approval for Kosovo's independence - and to hell with the Serb minority - on PA.

    Surely you have to apply those same standards to Tibet?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1811 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan,

    Does it really matter what any of us think? As usual in these situations nobody seems to take stock of what the people themselves actually want.

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But your Tibet-Was-No-Paradise comments are also apt. I forget who/where (BFM?)(PAS?) but someone has previously pointed out (during his last visit to NZ) that the Dalai Lama has some very conservative views on homosexuality that don't sit well with the image we have of him ...

    Well, sure... but some PAS readers may think the US of A isn't exactly heaven on Earth either (especially if you iz a poor black HIV-positive atheist queen), but would draw the line at New Zealand contributing troops to a multinational occupation force.

    And I certainly think the Pontiff Formerly Known As Jospeh, Cardinal Ratzinger wouldn't generally be regarded as a queer-coddling liberal. I don't think that's much of an argument for invading the Vatican.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Thomas,

    RB - thanks for the info about tibet. much appreciated.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I'm not sure what the impact of an Olympic boycott would be: reading China's human rights record, it's hard to understand how it was awarded the Olympic PR opportunity in the first place

    I believe the usual recipie is eye-watering amounts of money expended on lobbying, junkets, slick PR presentations, political arm-twisting, creative accounting (along with building schedules that only make sense in terms of theoretical particle physics) and a dash of outright bribery.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I have to agree with Tom that 1940s Tibet isn't a fair comparison with some sort of free or quasi-free 2008 Tibet. In the 1940s lots of countries were a lot less enlightened than they are now. I'm sure that future Tibet would be conservative, dominated by religion, and have some things about it that we wouldn't like, but it wouldn't be 1948.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    along with building schedules that only make sense in terms of theoretical particle physics

    Actually I believe that the Chinese were some impressive period of time _ahead_ of schedule in building all their sites. Athens was still pulling things together in the weeks leading up to the games, I think I heard that China had basically finished two years in advance. They've put a massive investment into the Olympics.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    But your Tibet-Was-No-Paradise comments are also apt.

    the dali lama freely admits that Tibetans must accept the progress and improvements that China's rule of Tibet has brought.

    but not the repression of basic human rights
    and the dali lama also does not want independence

    Jack yan over on his personal blog has made a couple of really insightful posts
    http://jackyan.vox.com/library/post/the-question-of-tibetan-sovereignty.html
    http://jackyan.vox.com/library/post/red-chinese-intellectuals-speak-out-in-support-of-tibet.html

    personally i don't think Fiji is a good example
    ethnic Fijian's have always had control of government and land.
    except for a few elections that have normally been overturned by a coup. Yes the problem in fiji is now way more complicated, and recently even ethinic Fijian's are suffering at the hand of the current people in power.
    but as a small example Indians have never had the rights to own land in fiji they can only rent.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 493 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    The more I read/hear about Tibet, the more the Dalai Lama's call for significant degrees of autonomy seems apt. While the "tanks of '59"/Lhasa Uprising are in some camps held as the beginning of the occupation, Tibet has broadly been considered part of the empire for centuries - before the times of the Dalai Lamas even by some accounts (since the time of the Mongols).

    But pre-the 1900's, the empire seemed generally to let Tibet sort itself out and that seems the most apt - the cultural/religious differences are enough that centralised Chinese control would seem unlikely to "gel" in the province, yet full independence seems a step too far...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1721 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Anyway, when Michael Laws approaches moral certainty in his column, and rails against "this foreign country, foreign culture and foreign moral code", with its dirty toilets and all, it's probably time for the rest of us to take stock.

    And, on a slight tangent, could someone please ask Kiwibank what fricking buttons they're trying to push here? To be honest, I find KB's latest act downright offensive -- the respectable face of economic xenophobia, to paraphrase our host -- if it wasn't quite so farcically stupid. Why don't we put the evil foreign bankers in kinky boots and black leather greatcoats, folks?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Er, Israel would be the better comparison surely? The Palestinians had the Israeli's forced upon them, just as the Tibetans have had the Chinese forced upon them.

    It's not even that simple. Some Tibetans were eager for the Chinese to come in -- for obvious reasons -- and Tibet itself wasn't recognised as a separate nation. The young Dalai Lama attended the 1945 National People's Congress and was hailed as a friend by Mao. But Mao famously quipped "religion is poison", and inflicted his brutal state secularism on the Tibetans.

    I'm not aware of the Fijians having Indians forced upon them. (Actually, I'm ignorant of how the Indians came to be in Fiji. I presume it was as cheap labour?) <standsbyforschooling>

    It's hardly a perfect comparison, but many native Fijians do feel the Indians were forced on them. My point was that we wouldn't overlook targeted ethnic violence there. It seems that Han Chinese have been murdered in the past two weeks, and I don't find that any prettier than protesters/rioters being shot by Chinese soldiers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Athens was still pulling things together in the weeks leading up to the games, I think I heard that China had basically finished two years in advance. They've put a massive investment into the Olympics.

    Well, perhaps I'm a little too cynical for my own good but I wonder if its much easier to push things through when you don't have to deal with any pesky political or media scrutiny or arse around with tiresome building, environmental or labour standards.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The more I read/hear about Tibet, the more the Dalai Lama's call for significant degrees of autonomy seems apt.

    Yes, it seems the obvious solution. It would be messier in the adjacent provinces, which also have an ethnic mix, but are universally regarded as part of China proper.

    Tibet has broadly been considered part of the empire for centuries - before the times of the Dalai Lamas even by some accounts (since the time of the Mongols).

    Chinese nationalism is nothing if not sweeping. People are only half-joking when they refer to Tokyo as "the Eastern Capital".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    The more I read/hear about Tibet, the more the Dalai Lama's call for significant degrees of autonomy seems apt.

    Yes, it seems the obvious solution. It would be messier in the adjacent provinces, which also have an ethnic mix, but are universally regarded as part of China proper.

    True, seemingly innocent border lines are always the biggest fight-starters - especially with those Southern Tibetan areas claimed by India from when the British randomly drew lines on maps!

    My take on it is that the Chinese have too many possibly errant provinces across the country (Taiwan being the obvious one) that to start to give up control/independence here becomes fuel for a much broader fire

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1721 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    To be clear (in reply to Craig): I agree in general terms with what Tom said above. I believe the Chinese should be out of Tibet - although I have no freaking idea how that can be achieved since China is a monolith. Scratch that, China is The Borg. They will subsume everything in their path, they will have anything they want. Whilst America has spent the last umpteen years shouting "U-S-A! U-S-A! We're Number One!" The Chinese have quietly continued on, doing whatever they f#ck they like. They result is that every nation on earth wants a free trade agreement with them. We think we're getting access to their billion consumers, but the reverse is true.

    Prediction: 10 years from now Fonterra will be 'exporting' it's 'knowledge' in milk production to China. The government of the day will laud this as a 'success' and there will be much back-slapping over the revenue generated. Fonterra will show (for a price) the Chinese where they should build their dairy farms (areas recreating NZ conditions re climate, soil, grass production etc) and set up the modern dairy factories for them. And then in 20 years NZ farmers will be bleating because commodity prices have fallen through the floor, due to Chinese output. And guess who Nestle will be dealing with by that time?

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Does it really matter what any of us think? As usual in these situations nobody seems to take stock of what the people themselves actually want.

    It matters to us what we think. In order to take stock of what the people want/need we need to think. We also need to think about what we do in relation to 'the people themselves' I think.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2751 posts Report Reply

  • DaveC,

    It is a misquote. Key did not say 2010 was the "earliest date for tax cuts", nor did he say "the earliest a National-led government could deliver tax cuts would be April 2010.". He said "It could be that sort of distance away,** notwithstanding any changes we might make**. We have always argued about phased-in tax cuts, not a big-bang approach. Assuming it was in Budget 2009, then generally speaking the start would be in April 2010."

    With the economy threatening to tank and the public crying out for some relief it makes sense to bring the cuts forward in a mini-budget.

    Since Nov 2007 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    is the problem china in tibet?
    or is the problem really the current powers in china overall.

    until a regime change in china, any dissenter anywhere in china/tibet gets to enjoy human rights abuses.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 493 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Fiji were 'protected' by paternalistic colonials who wanted Fijians to remain as they are. By the way they would make an unfair profit out of the Indians.

    Anyone catch Ross Kemp on Gangs and see how similar our Pacific Island Labour programme is to the fascist Russian MPs view of a mild form of slavery?

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Sue - 'regime change' - as in Iraq?

    Are you advocating war on China?

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    until a regime change in china, any dissenter anywhere in china/tibet gets to enjoy human rights abuses.

    heh heh - you turned a negative into a positive! I know you were being sarcastic, but you've put waterboarding in a whole new light.
    "Why the glum face Mr Terrorist? Let's turn that frown upside down ...!"

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I forgot to add a few more interesting links to the main post till just now, so here they are:

    A group of Chinese intellectuals has appealed to the Chinese government "to admit that its policy of crushing dissent in Tibet and blaming the ensuing violence on the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was failing." Many young Chinese, on a strictly governed media diet, can't understand why the world is picking on them. They believe the West is glossing over the deaths of ethnic Chinese.

    The Times interviewed people in Sichaun province, who were nervous and despairing:

    “I believe they can never win their independence, because no big country backs them and they have no army,” said a shop owner, “and I believe we cannot win their hearts.”

    This story from a Canadian paper underlines the fact that the problem is not purely territorial. Ethnic Tibetans in China proper feel the same grievances as those in the TAR; grievances that won't be satisfied by political reform in Tibet itself.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    For goodness sake. Just say "circumstances change" or something. That's perfectly alright. But please, don’t make a claim to have been misquoted your standard response when it's suggested that you've changed your mind. It's not a very good thing to say to a journalist.

    But just to play devil's advocate for a moment, if journalists want to play 'gotcha!' and editorialise while they're doing it, perhaps we could be spared weasel words like "X. appeared confused." National and Labour are both playing peek-a-boo with their tax policies -- and debatably with good cause -- and it must drive the Press Gallery to distraction. it certainly get up to places where the sun won't shine without benefit of an autopsy with me.

    But I don't think journalists are doing themselves any favours trying to catch out Key or Cullen because, otherwise, they don't have a tax cut story this week.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

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