The March 10 protests in Lhasa on the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Beijing rule immediately won the sympathy and support of Western media outlets, bloggers, and human rights organizations. From the point of view of many Chinese bloggers, however, the international coverage of the protests boiled down to misinformed anti-Chinese sentiment. What can be done to encourage dialogue in times of such heated disagreement? How is the hegemony of truth constructed in the current global media ecology? What is the role of editorialized websites like Global Voices in presenting multiple perspectives on a single issue, while also adding context for an international, multilingual readership?
Moderator: Xiao Qiang
Rebecca MacKinnon, University of Hong Kong and Global Voices
protests around torch -- many people saw this as opportunity to protest widely -- many ppl around the world thought chinese citizens would support these protests b/c it's action against repressive govt., but chinese citizens were angry and called western media biased
anti-CNN web site created by chinese citizens
CNN cropped a photo from tibet that cut out a mob of tibetans throwing rocks (tibetans being violent back) -- just showed other part of photo
hoping that Internet will help prevent this sort of disconnect, but in this situation it was chinese talking to chinese and west talking to west -- no real understanding/compassion for others' views, it's "silos" -- alternative, isolated perceptions of reality
the concern is that the "West and China are creating parallel and separate spaces"
instruction video on YouTube for how to log in to Chinese version of Twitter and join conversation
have to do more than criticize & accuse
"if only they could get our information, have access to our info, they'd agree w/us" -- this is dangerous idea
lack of conversation is exacerbated by censorship: harder to post info about China from w/in China b/c it's blocked or censored
key: compassion & understanding
Tibetan protests in March 2008 turned into riots, govt. blocked media
Chinese students abroad accused media of bias
govt. then released info about Tibetans attacking Chinese (which was true), blamed it on Dalai Lama (not necessarily true)
Internet played a dividing role, pushing ppl to extremes
John Kennedy, Chinese Language Editor, Global Voices
Tibetan police called "Chinese police" on CNN
antiCNN documented all of this, their site is in english & chinese
Olympics are an opportunity to push an agenda, but what agenda should bloggers be pushing?
questions to ask:
-- how different, really, are the different Chinese views on Tibet?
-- is there just one? multiple?
-- chinese view of "Free Tibet" protester who knows nothing about Tibet?
-- what & who do you disagree with?
-- which China do you disagree with?
-- what's the HK perspective on what happened in Tibet? some might consider their views more valid than those of mainland Chinese
-- are ppl in China overly sensitive?
-- how many ppl are willing to talk about human rights issues w/foreigners who have western view of human rights?
-- are all Chinese bloggers anti-CNN?
Isaac Mao, Entrepreneur and Researcher, China
we always think we're right
barriers come from lack of info, heightened by censorship
similar to Danish cartoon controversy -- how to bridge conversation?
speech intended for one audience is becoming public -- challenge is to adapt your speech for a global audience
audience comment: "Change is not Viagra. We should not expect instant change."
John Kennedy: "Twitter is my Viagra."
Solana Larsen: "Viagra is cheaper on the Internet."