My Textbook on Dialects
As I understand it, the universtity, in conjunction with the Party, assigns approved textbooks to all courses. Students must buy these books. Then, when it comes to actually teaching the course, the professors choose how much those official textbook choices are used and how much other materials the professors personally select are used. The book I was so busy studying for a while, Modern Chinese (现代汉语, 上海教育出版社), is one of the ones chosen by the Party. That can make for interesting reading sometimes.
Here’s my slapdash translation of a paragraph on dialects in China (pp. 8-9):
> In order to adapt to the needs of socialist construction and promote the function of language in society, we must actively support the common language of China’s ethnic groups — we must rapidly popularize Mandarin Chinese. “Mandarin serves the people as a whole, whereas dialects serve only the people of a particular region. The spread of Mandarin does not mean the deliberate extinction of [other] dialects. Rather, it entails a gradual reduction in scope of the [other] dialects’ usage, in keeping with the objective requirements for the advancement of society. [Other] dialects can — and inevitably will — coexist with Mandarin in the long run. However, Mandarin’s scope of usage must be continually expanded, and Mandarin must be used as much as possible for public occasions and written materials. We must correct the narrow-minded views of those who do not accept Mandarin, are not willing to listen to Mandarin, or do not even allow their children to speak Mandarin. We must correct published materials — literature in particular — in which the misuse of [other] dialects appears.” We should correctly recognize the relevance of dialects as a form of communication within an ethnic minority while consciously promoting the development of the common language, reducing the influence of [other] dialects, and not only actively using Mandarin oneself, but also doing one’s best to spread the use of Mandarin.
The quote within the passage comes from a 1955 article in the People’s Daily entitled “For the Advancement of Language Reform, Promote Mandarin and Strive for the Standardization of the Chinese Language.”
So basically, the government doesn’t want to squash the other dialects, it just wants to reduce their role to insignificance while Mandarin dominates all. Apparently that doesn’t count as squashing them.
I have the feeling that the typical Shanghainese person would just laugh at a passage like this. Every now and then I hear that Shanghainese is in danger, but it seems pretty healthy to me.
One interesting issue raised by translating this passage had to do with the Chinese words 普通话 (Mandarin) and 方言 (dialect). In normal Chinese usage, Mandarin is pretty much never referred to as a dialect, even though by linguistic definition it could fairly be called a “standard dialect.” Yes, dialects can be standard or nonstandard, but they’re still dialects — variations of a larger linguistic group (of course, whether or not the different dialects/topolects of Chinese are actually separate languages altogether is a whole different can of worms). Yet in this passage, “dialects” were continually referred to, and the implication was “not Mandarin” and “inferior.” This linguistic bullying may not seem very strange, but keep in mind that the above passage came from a university’s core linguistics text! Ah, but it’s a Party-approved book… not so surprising after all.
Related: “Dialects” in China
You know, I’m going with the commies on this one: Mandarin SHOULD be promoted as China’s official language. If that means reducing the use of other dialects in everyday conversation so be it. Here’s why I believe this: each country should have a common identity. In other words, everyone in China, from the Han to the Uyghurs to the Tibetans, should all think of themselves as BEING Chinese. The idea that all diversity is good is complete crap. More often than not diversity leads to mayhem and even genocide as seen in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. One way to defeat this is to promote a common identity so that everyone says, “I’m Chinese first–then I’m a Uyghur and a Muslim and . . .” Linguistic domination is KEY to fostering this attitude, especially if China wants to ride out its next few hard decades relatively painlessly. Cantonese should be left alone cuz its speakers are still Han, and I doubt Cantonese-speaking Han will, say, blow up the Mandarin-speaking Han. But others, I don’t know, I’ll be suspicious of them if I were the Chinese leadership. Assimiliation should be an overriding goal. One thing the Chinese should NEVER do is follow the liberal attitudes of the West: ohhh, you poor minorities, you don’t want to follow the white man’s ways, you should stay true to yourselves, don’t have to learn the white man’s language, etc., etc. The end result of such an attitude: native-born people blowing themselves up on buses and subways! Stupid!
The Chinese should study how America assimilates people. English is the unofficial official language in America, and everyone by the second generation speak it perfectly. Likewise, America promotes a common American identity since it’s “the land of immigrants.” Immigrants do still, of course, practice their ancestral customs, but these never conflict with their primary identity as Americans–which is certainly NOT the case among Europe’s immigrant masses, which is another reason why Europe’s going to go down the toilet. Again, a reason for this is the overwhelming domination of English in daily America life, even among the Mexican Americans that everyone’s so scared about. I live in southern California, and I tell you, the Mexicans are assimilating. By the 2nd generation, nobody speaks Spanish to each other anymore, which makes me totally happy and hopeful for America’s future. So I’m all for the domination of Mandarin in Chinese life too. Cuz if it worked for America, it’ll work for China too.
I happened to see your blog – ah hah~~it’s really a good place to visit!
I sent your flash with mandarin/Shanghainese pronunciation to one of my friends,another cool John who is also from U.S and is doing business in HK SAR now.And…he likes it! Do hope he can have some fun while learning Chinese.Anyway,thank you!
Kitty from SH
This brings up a question I’d like to ask.
Today I was in line somwhere (here in the US) and a dad and a daughter behind me started speaking mandarin. I just got back from a year of study in Taiwan and I can understand Taiwanese mandarin just fine, but their beijing accent threw me for a loop. I always hear mandarin is based on the beijing dialect, but are there people in china who really speak “standard” mandarin? is it an education thing? I know in taiwan the well-educated speak a much clearer version of mandarin (though still retaining local characteristics, of course).
Just when I was getting to think that you were an independent thinker and too smart to resort to spouting Party propaganda …
Well.. I guess all those CCTV broadcasts which sought to take advantage of events in the West to paint Uyghurs as terrorists really weren’t a complete waste of the Party’s collective breath.. turns out one person bought that crap hook, line, and sinker… you. Congratulations. Isn’t it funny that the only thing Uyghurs have in common with, say, the Taliban for example is coincidentally belonging to the same religion, which happens to be the second largest religion in the world? What makes them “terrorists” to the Chinese government is that they’d rather fight to be a majority in their own independent state than suffer the fate of other Chinese “minorities” in China(or non-Han as if Han=Chinese.) I know if I were Uyghur, I wouldn’t give in to that kind of treatment without a fight.
Anyway, John was talking about Chinese dialects, not separate languages like Turkish and Arabic that are even now dying out among Muslims in China. You are so very off the subject in saying that only those dialects spoken by Han should be left alone because Han are the only ones who aren’t going to blow anybody up. Anyway, while reading Sinosplice in the past, I have always thought you are a really intelligent person and I respect you a lot, which is part of the reason I sometimes feel pessimistic about whether there is hope for the Chinese public to see through the propaganda to what is really going on between the “majority” and the “minorities” in China if you, an intelligent person living outside China can’t even accomplish that much.
Perhaps minorities in China in general would all feel more Chinese (as if they don’t… I wonder when the last time you consulted their opinions as to whether they feel Chinese or not…) if the government hadn’t designated them as separate in the first place and Han Chinese didn’t routinely paint them as primitive and exotic to make themselves seem “modern” and “mono-ethnic” in comparison. If you feel that all minorities are Chinese first and foremost, then why are marriages between the nationalities still referred to as “intermarriages” in the Chinese media and why does everyone still have their supposed ethnic identity labeled in black and white on their household register and identity card? Why can’t they just be Chinese? Because Chinese “assimilation” has little to nothing in common with ethnic relations in the West. It’s “assimilation” that seeks to preserve an imagined status quo. What separates Han min and Hui min ethnically, anyway? Anything at all? No, but they’re still called a separate “minority nationality” when the only thing that they don’t have in common is religion. Do you see Muslims in America being assigned their own race just because they belong to Islam and pray in Arabic? I think not. If you take a closer look at the two completely different worlds you are trying to base your analogy upon, I think you will see that this analogy is utterly logically fallacious. A good place to start would be the following article:
I know this paper is a little long, but a lengthy and complex analysis of these things is absolutely necessary lest you commit yet another informal fallacy, that of suppressed evidence, by making such huge oversimplifications.
P.S., If any two ethnic groups in China start blowing one another up, there’s only one nationality who’s to blame, and that’s Han.
The Chinese themselves debate over which region of China speaks the “most standard Mandarin.” A lot of people say it’s Harbin or Tianjin. It’s certainly nto Shanghai. Mandarin in Beijing is actually often not super standard (but more standard than a lot of places). Yes, education is definitely an important part of it.
Chinese Spoken Language
Globalization and standardization are making the use of any language or dialect increasingly redundant – Just pick up what you want and they will whip it over a scanner. Want to make a political or philosophical point in Shanghainese or Hakka? Go ahead, it will be understood as “Rubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb, I can’t find the thing I want you to whip over the scanner”. However, we mustn’t be too negative about the fate of dialects as their very charm comes from their uniqueness – the less people that speak them, the more charming and unique they are. But who are we kidding? the language of the future is broken English and its message: greed, hate and violence.
Sorry to be so negative, but I had a bad burger. I will be my bright and cheery self tommorrow.
Da Xiangchang, congratulations on growing up in the Chinese educational system. Now that you are in California, you will no doubt enjoy excercising the racist stereotypes that were taught to you with people who have never heard of the ethnic groups you are insulting.
In contrast with my experience in China, I have never heard anyone in California say things like Weiwuerzu and zangzu are dangerous factionalists and Mosuo guniang are fucking hot sex machines – Am I right or wrong? Ever see Daizu guniang do the water dance? Ever ask a Mosuo girl to zouhun for a night? Tell them your Chinese name was a wordplay on “Big sausage”, they’ll zouhun all over Lugu Lake, man.
In a way, you agree with me perfectly when you wrote, “Why can’t [the minorities] just be Chinese?” That’s all I’m saying. Again, the basis behind my beliefs runs along 2 lines: 1) Tibet and Xinjiang will always be part of China, and 2) the non-Han Chinese, esp. in those provinces, must therefore assimilate into mainstream Han culture, and learning Mandarin as a primary language is a necessary first step. Of course, those ID cards you’re talking about are pretty bad, and should be gotten rid of. If you promote too much ethnic identity, you’ll have a situation much like what happened in Yugoslavia: civil war along ethnic lines. And I don’t want China to fall apart like Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union; in other words, I don’t want China to lose Tibet or Xinjiang. And any Westerner, esp. if you’re American or Australian, who champions an independent Tibet or Xinjiang is the biggest hypocrite in the world cuz if you really believed in independence for indigenous people, you would also clamor for the return of America to the Indians and Australia to the aborigines. Now, do I believe America should be returned to the Indians. Hell no! Just as an advanced European civilization replaced the primitive Indian cultures, so did a relatively more advanced culture replaced the Tibetans. Personally, I don’t see Tibet with rose-tinted glasses. Tibet under the Dalai Lama was a theocracy with slaves and everything, and the Dalai Lama to me is an ayatollah without a beard.
“The language of the future is broken English and its message: greed, hate and violence.” Why is that? From history, the people whose primary language is English have done more good for the world than any other people in human history.
Give me a break. I was educated in the States since kindergarten.
When I wrote “Why can’t the minorities just be Chinese?” I meant it as a rhetorical question. What you and I disagree upon is the primary reason why they can’t. Although it may appear that the government is trying to assimilate minorities, fundamentally they are doing just the opposite. Depicting minorities as members of, as you say, “primitive” cultures that are far distinct from the “advanced” Han culture is far more important to the Chinese nation than is assimilating them. The world wouldn’t see Han culture as being as “advanced” as you do if the colorful minorities weren’t on television and displayed in zoos, while the Han always attend such events dressed in modern dress, business suits, never their own “traditional” clothing. In fact, China itself wouldn’t have its own national “Han” identity were it not for those completely fabricated contrasts.
Before China was magically transformed from an empire into a “modern” nation, assimilation was more of a reality. There was no unified “Han” ethnicity that comprised some 90% of the population, there were an empire of ethnically mixed Chinese who couldn’t have been turned into a nation without fragmenting on certain lines, i.e. north vs. south, etc. The unified “Han” identity was the fabrication of a man who was afraid people in the north wouldn’t be able to see through their hatred of the south to identify with his Cantonese-accented Mandarin, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. For example, the term “Hui” was originally purely religious and has since been split into two Muslim “ethnicities,” Uyghur and Hui. Without the exploitation of the “minority” “identities,” there would be no Chinese nation. So, if you think that the minorities should just “be Chinese,” something they were long before they were handed out objectified identities on 56 colorful little cards, you had better be willing to say goodbye to your so-called “advanced” Chinese civilization.
China does not insist on functional diversity. Instead only one ethnic identity (Han) and only one language (Mandarin) is actively encouraged. All other cultural markers (religion, language, etc), are actively discouraged for non-Han. To be Chinese literally means to be Han, to the exclusion of all else. Diversity and an identity other than the nationally prescribed one is proscribed, attempts to encourage and maintain non-Han identity is equated with separatism, as something evil and innately destructive.
The extreme denial of self-determination and actual diversity is what often leads to ethnic strife. In historically diverse Africa, ethnic separatism often stems from the forced amalgamation of previously separate ethnic groups into a political unit with fixed borders (colonialism). Scarcity of resources, lack of an equal distribution of political power contribute to the problem.
Similarly in China, Han expansion into non-Han areas and subsequent military campaigns forcibly added many non-ethnic groups into the Chinese empire/state. Once incorporated, these ethnic groups found themselves serfs in their own homes. They are no longer masters of what was historically their language, culture, and lands. Alienation from real political power, further leads to ethnic strife.
In the case of Tibet, “advanced culture” has nothing to do with how the Tibetans were conquered by the Manchus. Could one say that proto-Tibetans in 700AD possessed a more “advanced culture” since they conquered large swaths of the Tang? Perhaps the Mongols or Manchus possessed a more “advanced culture” and as a result “naturally” conquered all of Song or Ming China. Europe and Japan colonized Asia, was it due to their “advanced culture?”
The issue centers on self-determination, to what extent are minority peoples allowed to function as what they are, in a society which insists on including them but alienating them. When minority peoples are given the choice on how to navigate their own identities, how to assimilate at their own pace, to decide how much change is tolerable, how much of their culture they are willing to themselves change, then the issue of separatism often dies down.
Tibetans in the early 20th century practiced slavery, as did numerous other groups at the time, as did China (albeit on a smaller scale) a century earlier. But going into the 20th century, all societies had legally abolished the practice. No one can say that if Tibet were independent, it would not have done so on its own. No one can say it could not have achieved modernization on its own.
Geographic enlargement of the US resulted in the forced destruction of Native American culture and peoples. Africans were imported as slaves. Yet modern America is an immigrant society. People now come willingly to the US to benefit from the existing society. As such ethnic politics is geared towards assimilation to maintain order, continuity and functionality of the preexisting state and its ideals. The ideal is individual contribution to a universal American society not broken down by ethnicity, religion, etc. For America, assimilation does not mean the extinction of native culture or language. But being a pluralistic society, some common tools are needed for cohesion. Democratic ideals, a common (but not exclusive) language, are but some requirements. The immigrant is free to maintain their identity, culture, religion, language, so as long as they employ the same tools to function within a larger pluralistic society. American society is inclusive, tolerant, and diverse (in comparison to most other places in the world). American identity is expansive.
The same is hardly true of China. Han=Chinese is the policy of the state, and of the majority Han.
Tianjin is definitely not a place where the spoken language comes any close to the standard… Many of my friends believe that the worst accent all around China is actually from Tianjin.
Harbin might go for it, even if it has still too much of a Dongbei flavour (although much better than most of Dongbei).
I’m curious as to how many students there are in your class. Your particular area of study is probably not so popular in Shanghai.
I’m wondering perhaps you could write more about your classmates.
You have got to be kidding me. I began my formal study of Chinese attempting to mimic the idealized “standard Mandarin.” I’ve spent time in Tianjin. I’ve been to a lot of cities in China. I can assure you that the Tianjin accent is not even remotely as bad as the accents in a lot of other places in China. In fact — and I’m just pulling this number out of thin air here — I’d go so far as to say that the people of Tianjin can speak Mandarin closer to the standard than at least 90% of the country. If you want really non-standard Mandarin, go south.
Not only is Sinosplice great, but your experience with Wang Lihong-endorsed Cheerios in Shanghai was identical to mine in every detail 🙂 Do they think we’re gerbils? That reminds me of the giant gerbil plague in Xinjiang, which is slightly closer to the actual topic here.
I have nothing assertive to add, because I don’t know the real issues any better than the average second-year student of Chinese. But in China for the first time this summer, I couldn’t believe my sheltered Irish ears to hear Chinese friends (college students I met on a train) declaring the Dalai Lama to be a “son of a bitch” and expressing fervent conviction that Tibet ought always to be part of China, and that Tibetans must Love Their Country and were “sons of bitches” not wholly to do so. How very extremely different this mindset is from mine. An Irish education breeds young people with a definite, irreverent pride in coming from a small country, small and recently emergent from hundreds of years of external ownership. Seemingly, a Chinese education breeds young people with a definite reverent pride in coming from an enormous proprietorial country. Is that right? Or do my friends actually regard Tibet as much China as other parts of China are China?
I agree with John about southern accents and dialects. I spent four months in Guilin while my Chinese was still at a basic level, and all I can say is talk about you linguistical hell. I couldn’t wait to leave and head up north.
As for the comments about the assimiliation of language, I’ve got this to add: as much as this is a contentious issue, and one that will be debated for years to come, the loss of any language is sad for any country; a country doesn’t just lose a part of it’s diversity but also lose a sense of its identity.
My father is Greek born, but he was born in the north of Greece, so that means he was born in Macedonia. He can speak both Macedonian and Greek equally – both languages are very natural to him. In returning to Macedonia only a few years ago, he was surprised that the younger generations who were my age – I am now thirty-one years old – can’t speak a word of Macedonian anymore. The Macedonian language, in Greece, has been – to use the euphemisism – assimilated. And that is a loss to Greece and the world.
While in Guilin, I met a Chinese who spoke excellent English and the topic of Mandarin came into conversation. He was a Sichuanese and was adamant that the government’s insistence that all Chinese people learn to speak putonghua was, to use his words, “thought police” at work. He went further to say that everything begins with language, and if the language is lost, where is the beginning?
Now, I can already hear DXC saying, you freaking liberal you . . . and all I can say, is yeah, I’m a freaking liberal, and I believe that any person has the right to speak any language they wish, and these language should be promoted, not discouraged.
He went further to say that everything begins with language, and if the language is lost, where is the beginning?
I don’t buy that for a moment. You have to understand that these are dialects, not different languages. Far more different than accents, but not different enough to constitute separate languages. Nobody, nobody is taking away the rights to speak the local dialects but government and scholars and educators are promoting a standard pronunciation to facilitate communication and commerce. Just like construction of roads, bridges, TV networks, mobile towers, etc., improvements in communication advances economics (of the locals), reduces hostility, spreads knowledge, healthcare, joyce and marriages, tourism, exposure to golder-haired blue-eyed foreigners, more colorful foods and clothes…… The list goes on and on, albeit spreading party propaganda is included but which country doesn’t enjoy that? And we are not talking about foreign languages here.
Can you back up this following claims with links, especially putting minorities in zoos part:
“Depicting minorities as members of, as you say, “primitive” cultures that are far distinct from the “advanced” Han culture is far more important to the Chinese nation than is assimilating them. The world wouldn’t see Han culture as being as “advanced” as you do if the colorful minorities weren’t on television and displayed in zoos, while the Han always attend such events dressed in modern dress, business suits, never their own “traditional” clothing.”
And those events you talked about could be seen just as easily as celebrating minority culture, just as Americans seeing a Native American festival would also be wearing “modern dress” and “not traditional clothing.” What’s the difference between a Chinese festival and an American one?
“Or do my friends actually regard Tibet as much China as other parts of China are China?” Yes, they do, and they have a perfect right to. As much right anyways as Americans do the landmass of the US, Aussies all of Australia, and Kiwis all of New Zealand. You being Irish (though, you better not be Irish-American) have an advantage cuz you can honestly decry Chinese imperialism without beng a hypocrite.
Well, I see nothing wrong with people deciding to learn a language IN ADDITION to the country’s primary language. If Greek is the official language of Greece, they should learn Greek first and foremost, then take Macedonian on the side. The big problem is when race hucksters say you, being Minority A, must speak Minority Language A and think Minority Thoughts A, otherwise you’re not a real Minority A and selling out to the majority (e.g., “you’re acting white by reading them books!”). This is identity politics, probably the most evil belief system in the world, cuz it’s caused millions of deaths. That’s why I’m all for having one official language per country.
The point was the “broken part”. Your assertion that the peoples whose primary language is/was English have done a lot of good in the world in no way contradicts my ealier musing.
But I must admit to having a creeping negative feeling towards the increased currency (but not necessarily value) of what is my mother tongue.
I turned on the tele one day to see an Israeli shouting (while pointing a gun) in heavily accented and arguably poor English at a man who I assumed to be an Arab, and I though to myself “Ah yes, English, the international language of hate.”
It sounds an entirely positive development to have the whole world all busy learning a common language for mutal communication, but is it not just making the world more divisive still, dividing each language combo into “us” and “them”? – He is not one of “us” and so I will speak to him in English regardless of where he may be from, whether he understands it and what his feelings are on the matter. In this country, we non-native speakers of Chinese are increasingly coerced into painful English-language interactions (i.e. slower and less efficient than they could be if peformed in Mandarin or another dialect) because we people (visibly of non-Chinese ethnicity) are immediately put into that “them” (so English) category. Don’t get me wrong; I am not one of those bitter and twisted “Oh God speak to me in Chinese, even though my Chinese blows chunks” sorts of dudes. I like to give people face and am generally very happy to provide eager language students with a little practice, but I do not see this push towards overwhelming domination of certain standardized languages and dialects as a big positive. As a student (so so speaker) of one flavor of Wu dialect , I have some feelings about the situation of this dialect family and take an interest in people’s changing perceptions and of reports in local media on the subject. Most people (ranging from dumb foreigners like me to smart Chinese academics involved in research in the field) are pessimstic about the outlook for Shanghainese. Many children born (in the last 10 years or so) to Shanghainese parents cannot converse well in Shanghai dialect and so we can assume that (in the case of such chidren) the dialect will not pass it on to the next generation (so dwindling pool of speakers and lingusitic diversity). The exclusive use of Mandarin for all non-family and formal communication is also strangling and de-valuing the language. But most damaging of all is the government attitude and general perception of it being a sign of poor education not to speak Mandarin (or English). There are people out there in the Shanghai community zealously promoting the dialect among their own people, but they might be likened to a mantis trying to stop a cart with its arm – the irrepressible juggernaut of standarized Mandarin rolls on. Years ago, it would be almost impossible for a newly arrived out-of-towner to make out what two Shanghainese people were talking about on a bus, but nowadays such is the impact of Mandarin on Shanghainese that they stand a good chance of getting a general gist of the conversation on day one. Formerly distinctly Shanghainese words are being discarded apace and replaced with only slightly altered Mandarin equivalents. I wonder what “Shanghainese” will sound like in 10 years time. Anyhow, I am a deluded defender of “oppressed” dialects of the world, I don’t pretend to know much about Shanghainese or anything for that matter (no need to pretend!!!), I am just jotting down a few thoughts on the subject. There is plenty of diverse interesting stuff to last at least this lifetime.
Finally, I propose we have a rotating official world language selected randomly. Think of the vast industry what would be generated by having to constantly up-skill the world into speaking new languages – NZ Maori for the next 5 years, followed by…drumroll…ooooh….Bantu! Wave upon wave of frenetic publishing, printing, testing, learning, jumping through hoops. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Please, no more changing the subject to minorities in the U.S., who are doubtless also frequent victims of abuse and racism. (Although there is one important difference that you did neglect while resorting to your usual bad reasoning by changing the subject: Native American festivals are organized by Native Americans themselves.) Maybe you’re right and Beijing’s “minority theme park” really aims to celebrate diversity. I guess the park’s public relations director was not reflecting a common view when he said the park is “”not up to Chinese standards” but that many Han Chinese are curious about the “backward and primitive peoples” there. (http://web.pdx.edu/~jacey/affirmativeaction.htm) Back to the subject though, equality is an ongoing process all around the world. No nation is perfect. However, China’s case is particularly severe because far too few people are even trying to change the common view, unlike in America where people of all backgrounds make a point of standing up for themselves. Anyway, per your request, I have a few links prepared for you that should provide some truly enlightening reading material. The first, which I really think you should read before even trying to critically examine the ideas which have been pushed upon you as if you must believe them to “be Chinese,” is an excellent work by a China scholar who is one of the main authorities on majority/minority issues in China. You can find it here: Second, and more importantly, you really need to brush up on your logic and reasoning skills. I’ve noticed that when involving yourselves in these discussions, you almost always call someone a “hypocrite” and I hate to be the one to inform you of this, but that’s just embarrassingly bad reasoning. Have you ever heard of a little Latin phrase called “ad hominem”? Maybe you should check out Logic 101 or some equivalent introduction to critical thinking class. If that’s not an option for you, here’s a website to start you out: http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~fescobar/217/fallacies.htm. Just scroll down to section II on ad hominem fallacies. In the meantime, a good little jingle you can remember to avoid these kinds of errors in reasoning is: “Don’t attack me! Attack my argument.”
Oh and by the way, DXC, regarding your answer to Kay’s question, would that line of reasoning also have justified Japan’s attempt to take over China? Good thing the rest of the world didn’t think Japan’s imperialistic ambitions were justified, because China was in no position to win that war on its own.
To answer your question about Japan conquering China: of course by the reasoning of imperialism, Japan’s conquest of China is justified.
Now, you answer one question for me: Do you believe Xinjiang and Tibet should be made into independent countries?
Once you answer this, we’ll talk cuz that’s the bottom line. If you don’t answer this question clearly, I’ll assume you’re too cowardly to state what you really believe in. End of discussion.
Though I doubt my personal beliefs are of much consequence to the present situation, I think that ideally the matter should be decided by free election. If the majority of people in Tibet, Xinjiang, or, say, Inner Mongolia decide that they would rather be an independent state than so be it. That would certainly get rid of the problem of the rest of China calling them “ungrateful” recipients of all the wonderful benefits, monetary and otherwise, given to them by the Chinese government. But hey, I have a lot of beliefs, hopes, and wishes that just like everyone else’s will probably never see the light of day. I guess I’ll just keep wishing in one hand and… well, you know the rest.
Then do you also advocate having the ethically Indian, aborigine, and Maori populations vote for their independence in the US, Australia, and New Zealand? And if the vote is for independence, the population that is NOT native leave their countries and go back to Europe (since the majority of these 3 countries are of European stock)? Don’t equivocate: Yes or no?
This is a bad analogy for too many reasons to list here. But I’ll entertain it. Perhaps it’s my fault for simply answering your question instead of presenting a formal argument. So here’s a fairly simple one that illustrates just one of the many dissimilarities between the situations you listed:
For a nation-state to be stable, its members must posses a shared national identity. To create such stability, groups or regions who do not share the national identity of the ruling government can either be forced to assimilate or can be adjusted (or, in Tibet’s case, returned) to independent status. Between these two alternatives, granting the group with a separate national identity independence is the comparatively just alternative. It is the government’s moral responsibility to choose the most just alternative among any group of options facing it with regard to the welfare of its citizens. Therefore, having met the above criteria, Tibet should be returned its status as an independent nation-state.
Now, if you were to apply the case of the Native Americans to this model, it’s clear that these groups do not meet the conditions of this argument. Unlike Tibetans, Native Americans do share a national identity with the U.S. I’m sure you will agree that they are, first and foremost, Americans. No tribe of Native Americans was ever a sovereign nation-state, unlike Tibet, and they have not so much been assimilated as they have in part helped to form the national identity of the United States of America. They pose no threat of endangering the stability of the U.S. Looking at past examples of assimilation into Chinese culture, however, it seems that the process is not so smooth. Some minorities, .like the Hui, have been completely and naturally assimilated into Chinese culture. They are ethnically indistinguishable from other Chinese. However, they are still labeled a separate “race” because of their religious differences and are treated unequally. They should, in theory, pose no threat to China’s stability, just as the Native Americans pose no threat to U.S. stability. But in actuality, their treatment as a separate and inherently inferior nationally still produces ethnic violence. Tibetans and Uighurs would likely face the same fate if they were to be forced to assimilate.
Finally, I just want to say that your line of thinking is really dangerous. Civilization has progressed significantly since the days of European imperialism and feudal law in China. Feudal law is not the rule of law anymore, international law is. The first rule of international law is national sovereignty, and it’s this rule that was broken when China invaded Tibet. The promotion of social justice is evolving, and I hope that there aren’t enough people out there thinking along the same lines as you to cause it to start to regress instead. Historical social injustice does not justify future social injustice.
It is no wonder that September 11th was such a wake up call for Americans. The end of history, indeed.
Your argument make sense only if we assume that the current international order, created by and for the benefit of European civilization, is fair and just to all. The mainland Chinese and some Muslims (Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda) would beg to differ.
You didn’t answer the question. Instead, you moved around it when you could have just answered with a “yes” or “no.” But obviously, by your long-winded answer, you would answer “no.”
And predicitably, you didn’t mention the central issue: both the Indians and Tibetans had their lands taken from them AGAINST THEIR WILL. No amount of rationalization will justify this central action. You can talk about “nation-states,” “national identity,” or Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck if you want to. This does not change the basic injustice, nor does it remove its basic remedy: returning the land to the original occupants.
Yet you condemn one type of imperialists (the Chinese) but not the other (the Europeans/Americans). Thus, you only condemn imperialism when it doesn’t affect your life–i.e., China’s takeover of Tibet. Yet when imperialism helps you–i.e., the takeover of America from the Indians–you shamelessly rationalize it with mealymouthed garbage. The bottom line is you want the stolen land of the Tibetans to be given back, but NOT the stolen land of the Indians.
I see where you’re coming from, and I shall not talk about Tibet and China anymore with you because I never debate hypocrites because hypocrites have no credibility. And until you give up your American passport and move back to Europe and champion the return of America to the Indians, you seem very much a hypocrite and have less-than-zero credibility on China and Tibet. And any future comment by you will be answered with, “Why are you still living on the Indians’ land? Do you think that’s right?”
The analogy between Native Americans and Tibetans is highly flawed for a few major reasons (among many).
First, as Jacey notes, there were never any Native American political bodies to begin with. No defined borders, no defined political structure, no state (in the modern sense) to begin with. Tibet on the other hand, was recognized internationally at one time or another as a separate political entity.
Second, wide-spread recognition of the right to self-determination is a fairly late development in international law. It was not even a tangible legal concept at the time that the Native Americans were subsumed into early America. Contrast this with the present situation of Tibet. Now that such a concept has gained greater widespread importance and recognition, it should be expected that it to be applied to the case of Tibet, and not America. It is unfair to apply this concept to America a few hundred years late.
Third, assimilation of the Native American peoples has become so thorough that undoing it would be of tremendous disadvantage to the Native Americans. Legally, socially, and culturally, they are a major foundation of America. Very little or nothing at all positive to both Native Americans and the rest of America would be gained by the independence or reversion of territories.
Fourth, Native Americans are granted a very high degree of autonomy under the law. Native American nations exist on separate legal jurisdictional grounds, and in most respects, operate independent of the US federal government. This is in contrast to the Tibet, which is “autonomous” in name only.
Fifth, Native Americans do not want full independence from the US. They are not calling for full scale international recognition of statehood, nor alleging flagrant human rights abuses. In the present day, they by and large want to be a part of America (though they are not without many valid complaints). Tibetans though, have a great deal to say of their treatment by the Han dominated PRC.
Allow me to summarize what you have said.
First, Native American had not called themselves a nation (oh really?) before the whites came.
Second, Native Americans were overtaken before the concept of self determination was law (like a hundred years before the American founding fathers made it law).
Third, it is too late for the Indians – it’s been so long that what’s done is done.
Fourth, Native Americans live on and enjoy their own autonomous land (oh really?) while Tibetans do not truly have an Autonomous Region.
Fifth, Native Americans do not squeal.
Unless you are not an American and/or are totally ignorant of the Native American history and present living conditions, I would say to you, what bull!
The US Declaration of Independence has: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But this you probably wouldn’t allow to apply to the Native Americans and you could even base that exclusivity on the fact that the authors of the said Declaration at the time conveniently forgot the rights of blacks, Indians, and to some extent women. On the other hand, you would definitely apply it to Tibet!
If Native Americans squeal, they will get it? Whom are we kidding? Every year groups of Native Americans, advised by a few liberal and compassionate whites, protest to such sports teams as the Cleveland Indians or the Washington Redskins against using their team names and logos. Do the sports owner, associations, governments, and white citizens give a damn? Absolutely not. FGS, this is only rights to a few minor references to cultural terms/images, yet the answer is no. Let’s imagine that hypothetically a vote takes place and the Native Americans voted for independence and reclamation of their land, ok maybe not even the entire US land but a larger chunk and allow the whites to shrink back and live on a few reservations (right, that’s the word), would the US government and the white population accept the vote?
OK, so that was hypothetical. Let’s look at a real event. The year was 1860 or thereabout, the southern states declared secession, called themselves the Confederate States. The USA government who had had claims to any of the southern states for only less than 100 years, marched south and whipped the southern whites into submission, and at the same time preserved the Union. The great pretence of that march, was slave emancipation. Actually the blacks would not get their human dignity back until another 100 years later.
In 1950s, after taking over the country the Chinese communists took over Tibet, a land that Chinese had had claim over for hundreds of years (many times longer than the occupation of the Native Americans’ land by whites), the Tibetan rulers who had had political, religious, and enslvering powers all to themselves, advised by a few liberal and compassionate westerners, rebelled and the PLA marched west and crushed them, and at the same time preserved the “Han dominated PRC.” The great pretence of that march, was slave liberation. The Tibetan slaves were freed overnight and they’ve had front seats on the buses ever since.
Now, you can tell me my analogy is highly flawed.
Spelling correction: enslavering. I don’t know if that’s a word but, hey….
Another contrasting aspect: after losing the Civil War, I believe some southern white plantationers/slavemasters fled the country; others surrendered or stayed quietly but still occasionally burn some crosses. After losing to the PLA, some Tibetan rulers/slavemasters fled the country; others surrendered or stayed quietly but still occasionally make some noises.
Your arguments aren’t even arguments but shameless excuses. Let me paraphrase them for you:
Excuse #1: Since Indians didn’t have political parties in the modern sense, it wasn’t wrong for their land to be taken.
Excuse #2: Since the Indians had their land taken a long time ago, it doesn’t count as stealing, sort of like stealing a guy’s car a month ago is not as bad as stealing it yesterday.
Excuse #3: If the Indians were given back their land now, their lives wouldn’t be as good. A valid point. Just as if Tibetans were given their land, they would go back to their old theocractic government, no schools, 36-year life expectancy rate, 95% illiteracy rate, and 95% of their population living as serfs or slaves.
Excuse #4: Indians live their own lives separate from the US. Yes, on reservations 0.000000000001% of the size of their original land–i.e., the landmass of America. If they enter mainstream American society, they would be speaking an alien language in an alien political system and culture in land that should’ve been theirs. Wasn’t the Dalai Lama’s main complaint about the Tibetans’ “cultural genocide” at the hands of the Han? Maybe he should comfort the Indians about this.
Excuse #5: I guess you can add telepathy to your talents since you can instantly divine the thoughts of millions of Indians. Why don’t you add time travel to your talents too by asking what the Indians felt 50 years after the formation of the US (since about 50 years have passed since China took over Tibet)? That’ll be around 1837 or so, you know, around the time of the Trail of Tears.
While you’re at it, why don’t you answer these 2 questions:
1) “Was the land of the Indians STOLEN or not? And answer in a yes or no.”
2) “How many more excuses are you going to make about the theft of the Indians’ land?”
The analogy between Native Americans and Tibet revolves around the concept of statehood. Common to both groups is the fact that both had their lands taken away. Basing independence only upon this fact however, makes for a very weak argument. Every people in the history of the world has had their land taken away at some time or another.
In the modern world in which we live, the legitimacy of a state depends largely upon its recognition by other states. In the case of the Native Americans, although constituting numerous different tribal groups, there was by and large no prior recognition of statehood. Indeed this does not does not bar any subsequent recognition of statehood, however that is besides the point. The point is, in our modern world, Tibet by comparison has a stronger case for independence and statehood based on its past historical interactions with its neighbors, and the simple fact that it was recognized as a separate state in the early 20th century. Events nearer in time make for a more stronger case for Tibet than for Native Americans.
Gin: “First, Native American had not called themselves a nation (oh really?) before the whites came.”
You can squeal all you want about how unfair it is. Fact is, prior recognition of statehood is a major consideration (though not the only consideration) for claims of statehood.
Gin: “Second, Native Americans were overtaken before the concept of self determination was law (like a hundred years before the American founding fathers made it law).”
If you want to invent a time machine and go back three centuries to argue to the rest of the world that the Native Americans deserve self-determination, go right ahead. In the present though, international law has developed to a point where the Tibetans of the 21st century have a better case than the Native Americans of the 18th century do.
Gin: “Third, it is too late for the Indians – it’s been so long that what’s done is done.”
Sucks doesn’t it? But yes, one can’t unravel all the cultural damage, all the languages lost, the 300 years lost. The focus is on the here and now, and on how to prevent this from happening to Tibet.
Gin: “Fourth, Native Americans live on and enjoy their own autonomous land (oh really?) while Tibetans do not truly have an Autonomous Region.”
Yes. In the US, the Indian Nations operate on different legal and jurisdictional grounds. They have more control over their affairs than individual states do. They operate their own court system. Etc.
Gin: “Fifth, Native Americans do not squeal.”
No they do not, they are not pigs.
Gin: “The US Declaration of Independence has: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But this you probably wouldn’t allow to apply to the Native Americans and you could even base that exclusivity on the fact that the authors of the said Declaration at the time conveniently forgot the rights of blacks, Indians, and to some extent women. On the other hand, you would definitely apply it to Tibet!”
I agree with what you have to say, but with all due respect, what does this have to do with the right to statehood for the Native Americans in the present day? The fact that they were wronged hundreds of years ago is an injustice, but it hardly likens their present day situation to the present day situation of the Tibetans.
Gin: If Native Americans squeal, they will get it? Whom are we kidding? Every year groups of Native Americans, advised by a few liberal and compassionate whites, protest to such sports teams as the Cleveland Indians or the Washington Redskins against using their team names and logos. Do the sports owner, associations, governments, and white citizens give a damn? Absolutely not. FGS, this is only rights to a few minor references to cultural terms/images, yet the answer is no. Let’s imagine that hypothetically a vote takes place and the Native Americans voted for independence and reclamation of their land, ok maybe not even the entire US land but a larger chunk and allow the whites to shrink back and live on a few reservations (right, that’s the word), would the US government and the white population accept the vote?”
With all due respect, WHAT THE HELL are you talking about, and just where are you going with this? What does this have ANYTHING to do with Tibet or the difference between the merits of Tibetan statehood and Native American statehood at present? The original argument I was making was how flawed the analogy between the two groups was. You seem to be inserting your own little diatribe about an entirely different topic.
Gin: “OK, so that was hypothetical. Let’s look at a real event. The year was 1860 or thereabout, the southern states declared secession, called themselves the Confederate States. The USA government who had had claims to any of the southern states for only less than 100 years, marched south and whipped the southern whites into submission, and at the same time preserved the Union. The great pretence of that march, was slave emancipation. Actually the blacks would not get their human dignity back until another 100 years later.”
If you look at the congressional debates, the intellectual debates, newspapers, judicial rulings between majority and dissent, you would realize that the issue of slavery was THE #1 hot topic of that era. Slavery as an issue reached all the way into constitutional bases of federal v. state power, economics, separation of religion, and a myriad other things. Constitutional interpretation of the rights of states to engage in Slavery was a major basis upon which the Southern States argued they had a legal right to secession. Again, I have no idea why you link this wholly separate issue to the instant topic. The historical practice of Slavery in the US is wholly different from that of Tibet.
Gin: “In 1950s, after taking over the country the Chinese communists took over Tibet, a land that Chinese had had claim over for hundreds of years (many times longer than the occupation of the Native Americans’ land by whites), the Tibetan rulers who had had political, religious, and enslvering powers all to themselves, advised by a few liberal and compassionate westerners, rebelled and the PLA marched west and crushed them, and at the same time preserved the “Han dominated PRC.” The great pretence of that march, was slave liberation. The Tibetan slaves were freed overnight and they’ve had front seats on the buses ever since.”
Han Chinese never conquered Tibet. The Manchu Qing dynasty conquered Tibet, and set up a system of nominal suzerainty. After the political disintegration of the former Qing polity, Tibet declared its independence, as did Mongolia, as did Xinjiang. What the governments of Chiang Kai-shek and Mao did do, was claim unto themselves the Manchu territorial legacy, while disclaiming its excesses. You assume that had Tibet retained its independence, to this day slavery would exist. As I mentioned in my previous post, you treat the Tibetans like children, incapable of finding their own way in the world.
My original argument concerned the present day Native American and Tibetan circumstances. Making a claim for statehood depends largely on focusing on these circumstances. Based on this, an analogy equalizing the strengths of both cases for statehood is flawed.
You attempt to analogize the US Civil War to Tibet, an analogy so highly flawed it is beyond words to describe. The social, political, historical, legal differences are so numerous I have no idea how you could link the two up.
I find your analogies between the Native Americans and Tibet lackluster and logically flawed. You focus singularly on the fact that both peoples had their lands taken away. Yet the simple fact that land was wrongly taken is hardly dispositive of a right to statehood or independence. One can say that what was done was wrong, without denying that at present, the Tibetans have a stronger case for statehood than do Native Americans.
Sausage: “Excuse #1: Since Indians didn’t have political parties in the modern sense, it wasn’t wrong for their land to be taken.”
First, I stated that Native Americans were without statehood, not political parties. Second, I believe it was amply clear by my tone that what happened to them was wrong.
Sausage: “Excuse #2: Since the Indians had their land taken a long time ago, it doesn’t count as stealing, sort of like stealing a guy’s car a month ago is not as bad as stealing it yesterday.”
Facts which occur nearer in time carry more weight than those which occurred farther back in time. The fact that Native Americans were wronged and subsumed two to three centuries ago does weaken their case for statehood. Changes to Native American society which occurred during the intervening centuries between when they were first conquered until today does play into a case for statehood. What it boils down to is, how distinct and separate socially and politically is that group? After two to three hundred years of being a part of America, it is more difficult to argue for a separate Native American political unit. This contrasts with Tibet. The argument isn’t about whether Native American’s had their lands stolen, it’s about the bases for a separate state.
Sausage: “Excuse #3: If the Indians were given back their land now, their lives wouldn’t be as good. A valid point. Just as if Tibetans were given their land, they would go back to their old theocractic government, no schools, 36-year life expectancy rate, 95% illiteracy rate, and 95% of their population living as serfs or slaves.”
Your words reek of Han Chauvanism. You assume that Tibetans are a childlike people in need of constant oversight and parentage, unable to care for themselves or determine their own futures. Your “statistics” are just as true of China as they are of Tibet, at the time that Tibet was assimilated by the PRC. It is an incredible stretch of the imagination to believe that Tibetans would even contemplate going back 100 years.
Sausage: “Excuse #4: Indians live their own lives separate from the US. Yes, on reservations 0.000000000001% of the size of their original land–i.e., the landmass of America. If they enter mainstream American society, they would be speaking an alien language in an alien political system and culture in land that should’ve been theirs. Wasn’t the Dalai Lama’s main complaint about the Tibetans’ “cultural genocide” at the hands of the Han? Maybe he should comfort the Indians about this.”
Again, you fail to make a distinction between what is undeniably a wrong committed on the Native Americans, and to what extent it would constitute a basis for separate statehood in the present. The fact that in THE PAST two to three hundred years, Native Americans had most of their land taken, that they were forced onto the worst most unarable land, that they slowly lost their own language, that they slowly lost a lot of their culture and independence, DOES NOT excuse the very same wrong CURRENTLY being done to Tibet. One thing already happened, the other is a modern phenomena.
Sausage: “Excuse #5: I guess you can add telepathy to your talents since you can instantly divine the thoughts of millions of Indians. Why don’t you add time travel to your talents too by asking what the Indians felt 50 years after the formation of the US (since about 50 years have passed since China took over Tibet)? That’ll be around 1837 or so, you know, around the time of the Trail of Tears.”
It does not take a telepath to divine that, yes, Native Americans today are not calling for secession from the US. Native Americans fought bravely and fiercely to retain their independence … in the past. They were wronged. But at present, there are NO mass movements to break away, there are NO mass denunciations of all other Americans. In the present, Native Americans consider themselves Americans.
I’ll answer your questions, even though I don’t see how relevant they are to the issue of modern day Tibetan statehood.
1) “Was the land of the Indians STOLEN or not? And answer in a yes or no.”
Yes, they were in fact stolen, if not outright, then through subterfuge, unequal contracts, and breached treaties.
2) “How many more excuses are you going to make about the theft of the Indians’ land?”
I never made an excuse for the theft of Native American land. I suggest that you focus on improving your reading comprehension skills. My argument was that Tibet, which at present endures many of the same wrongs committed upon the Native Americans, presents a stronger case for statehood than the Native Americans. You can argue for separate statehood for the Native Americans, but I suggest you first see how substantial a difference the factor of time (and everything that results from it) makes. Just because a people had their lands wrongly taken, does not de facto provide a case for statehood.
Your fixatation on the wrongs done to Native Americans rings hollow. If you truly did care about such things, you would not wish that they be repeated to any other people.
I asked if hypothetically Native Americans voted for independence would white America accept it, you went “WHAT THE HELL are you talking about.” I figured that would have been the answer. That would be my reaction too. And yes, that’s my reaction to the Tibet issue as well.
You keep claiming the Native American issue differs from the Tibet issue but have little logic or facts to support it other than saying there were foreigners/governments recognizing Tibet. Well, that’s about all there is to it, Tibet is an issue of which some foreigners just cannot let go. Even that will not stand scrutinizing. Are there any government that recognize Tibet as a state, now or before the communist takeover? Westerners had trade missions to Tibet and cultural posts there, in other words, gold diggers. If those count, there were even more official ones to Shanghai, Qingdao, Dalian and other Chinese places before 1949. What the Dali Lama has now is not a government. It may hurt your feelings but that’s the truth. By the way, the land of Tibet was never taken away, never stolen — it is still there, the same size, inhabited by what Tibetan people would call WE THE PEOPLE.
Are there no similarities between the civil war and the Tibetan takeover? If you don’t see the similarity I will have to treat you “like children” because your views are blinded by stubborn political propagandas. Are there differences? I have said that the southern states had only been part of US for a fraction of a ceutury whereas Tibet had been an autonomous body under Chinese sovereignty for many centuries. I will give you another difference. The difference in scales of impact: the civil war freed, supposingly freed, black slaves that constituted only, what, 5% to 10% of the southern population, but Chinese Commies freed, undisputedly instantly, slaves that had been more than 90% of the Tibetan population, 95% according to DXC.
I am appalled by your statement that “The historical practice of Slavery in the US is wholly different from that of Tibet.” In my book, slavery is slavery. What, slavery by the same race is better than slavery over blacks? Again, I can only dismiss your views as being fundamentally ignorant and clouded by propagandas from the former slavemasters.
1) “Was the land of the Indians STOLEN or not? And answer in a yes or no.”
Yes, they were in fact stolen, if not outright, then through subterfuge, unequal contracts, and breached treaties.
Finally, you admit this! You try to cloud the issues with your mealymouthed side issues, but now we return to the basic injustice. So let me get this straight:
A person willingly stays on land she herself considers stolen with NO intention of ever leaving this stolen land. Instead, she wants OTHERS to leave other lands that she also considers stolen, but which she doesn’t live on herself, thereby not affecting her own comfortable life.
Your principles are dazzling.
Gin, your response still makes no sense.
Your hypothetical is entirely moot because Native Americans are not asking for independence. There is no mass Native American movement for separate statehood. You are taking the discussion into an entirely different area by creating a hypothetical unsupported by reality, fact, and the very people you discuss. If you are willing to ignore the historical and social bases which support and differentiate the arguments for Tibetan or Native American statehood, you would see no problem in positing this question. If however, you acknowledge that the case for Native American independence and Tibetan independence would rely on different underlying factors situated within the present and based on current international laws and norms, then you see that this question is entirely off point.
As I stated to Da Xiangchang before, you should improve your reading comprehension skills. You are putting words in my mouth and addressing your own imaginary foe. I stated before that in the present, prior recognition of statehood is a strong factor in making a case for statehood. I clearly repeatedly stated this was not the only factor. If you paid attention to the arguments of others you would see that, but it appears that you are only chatting with yourself, and constantly going on new tangents when you cannot address your adversary on the merits.
One major factor going weakening a present day argument for Native American statehood would be that no Native Americans are arguing for statehood. There is no party in interest, no complaint set forth, and no remedy requested. One would assume that this would make the analogy between Native Americans and Tibet moot. One would also assume that fact that the wrongs committed against Native Americans are several centuries old, whereas the wrongs committed against Tibetans are ongoing, would also determine the relative merits of each case. Simply put, in the case of Native Americans, one would have to overcome the enormous hurdle of time.
As international recognition to a right of self-determination has only arisen within the last century or so, one would not expect it to apply as neatly to the case of Native Americans as would it apply to Tibet. Retroactive application of international laws and norms is something that is avoided. Yet you would try to explain the situation as being clear cut.
You reveal your true colors. You aren’t examining the issue of Native American statehood on its own merits, you are simply using it as a tool to disprove any claims for Tibetan statehood. Oh, you also should ask a native Tibetan what he or she feels about your views. I think its best not to treat people as objects and project into them your own insecurities. Your tone in regards to the Native Americans would suggest you believed what happened to them was wrong, yet you consciously do not apply those same standards to Tibet. Your “fury” is disingenuous.
Your attempt to analogize the American Civil War to the case of Tibet is laughable. The Civil War arose under complex social, political, and legal circumstances. Slavery was the major divisive issue of the day, upon which the legal arguments of separate statehood rested. The length of time a state stayed within the United States Union was of no consequence, other than determining which state could choose to be a free or slave state. Interpreting the constitutional basis for slavery and its resulting consequences on the concepts of federalism (federal versus state power, federal union of states), the commerce clause and its ability to either prohibit or allow for economic slave activity, constitutional notions of citizenship and human rights, all such formed the complex tapestry of the Civil War in America. In China, the argument for Tibet did not rest upon any such concepts. It was never about “freeing Tibetan slaves.” This ad-hoc altruistic propaganda is nothing but garbage. The only similarity between the two scenarios was that slavery existed, though of course, slavery existed in many parts of the world even up until the 20th century.
You disingenuously frame the issue in racial terms, suggesting race is a dispositive issue. Yet you never once provide any evidence as to why race is so imporant. You fail to address any issue I raise, and repeatedly fall back on the “race” issue. You are creating an imaginary scenario unrelated to the present discussion, and unrelated to the present situation of the Native Americans and Tibetans.
Wow Da Xiangchang, talk about failing to address any issue I brought up, and constantly changing the subject. Finally, I admit what? I never denied anything about Native Americans in the first place. If you think that I’m Jacey, you need to stop imagining things.
And STOP making hypotheticals that don’t make any sense. You keep inserting words and implications into my argument without any basis to justify your ever mutating one-person argument. First you get the bright idea that because land was taken away from the Native Americans hundreds of years ago, their situation on all accounts is the equivalent with that of Tibetans today. I stated several obvious flaws in your analogy, yet you continue to ride with it even when it sinks. When I stated that Native Americans have a case for statehood, but that it was much weaker than that for Tibetans, you imply that I am a hypocrite, going into a long and new tangent/tirade about injustice, the white-man, etc., all never once addressing any point I made.
Is there a case for Tibetan statehood? I believe so. Does this case encompass different issues and is it of different merit than one for Native Americans? I believe so. Does pointing to the obvious necessarily imply that I want Tibetan statehood? Maybe in your mind it is. All I am stating is that based on what is happening today, Tibet has a case for statehood. That is a different matter from whether Tibet ultimately should pursue statehood. A person of a less confrontational mindset could agree that Tibet has a valid case for statehood, yet conclude that statehood is not in the long term interest of Tibet. I leave that decision to the Tibetans, it is not mine to make. Tying this into the original topic of the thread, I believe that you’ve failed to address any issue brought up by any of the posters adverse to your views. Tibetans have a right to existence. For all your “rage” and for all your points about the injustice done to Native Americans, your position would guarantee that what happened to the Native Americans would again happen to Tibetans.
The thread began with a discussion on the language policies of the PRC, and by implication, the chauvinistic complex of Han Chinese as it pertains to the minorities of China. You argued for a position that would de facto lead to the annihilation of the identity and cultures of non-Han, even justifying it in terms of racial-cultural superiority. When attacked on your position, you go on further tangents and created the flawed Native-American, Tibetan analogy.
The history of mankind prior to the age in which we live in is filled with injustice. No one cared about giving people a say in their own affairs, whether preservation of culture and language is a worthy concept. Might made right. The notion of innate human rights, protecting peoples from the injustices of others is a relatively recent development. Even though mankind has come to this conclusion rather late, and numerous peoples like the Native Americans have suffered, it is nonetheless a beautiful aspiration. Individuals have a right to make decisions related to their well-being and their future, they have a right to preserve their identity and not have it annihilated for another’s benefit. Individuals have a right to dignity, to not be treated like perpetually incapable children. To this you say, “hah, you whiteman stole the indian’s land, you admit it!”
I am reading.
I’m beginning to think that Da Xiangchang’s sole strategy for any argument is to attempt to make his opponent look like a hypocrite.
I don’t address your “other issues” because they’re imbecilic rationalizations and excuses for the theft of Indian land. They’re just used to confuse the reader into irrelevant side issues. The central issue–the only important one, really–is both the Indians and the Tibetans had their land forcefully taken away, yet you only want one land to be returned (which doesn’t affect you) and not the other (which does).
Hence, I return to argument that you’re a hypocrite because it’s true. After all, why should any Chinese in Tibet or anywhere else take seriously the lectures of a person who herself lives on stolen land? They would justifiably laugh in your face–as I do. Move back to Europe, then we’ll talk.
If the shoe fits . . .
I love this. I have 2 words for you: double standards. I think our little discussion has demonstrated it rather well. While I try to measure with the same ruler what happened in this country in history vs. what happened in China in history, you constantly apply different standards, if you apply anything at all to the Native American and African American history. I need say no more, you have revealed yourself well.
Did I try to frame things in racial terms? I was merely attempting to guess, in absence of your elaboration, what you meant by stating that “The historical practice of Slavery in the US is wholly different from that of Tibet.” All I could come up with to explain it is that you might think the Tibetan slaves, having been enslaved by those of their own race, are different slaves. Surely you were not thinking of the difference in religious or price terms, were you?
Where else did I make racial references? Oh yeah. I suggested that westerners were involved in the Tibet mess. Well, this is and has been the truth, the unfortunate truth. The majority of the noises on Tibet are coming from westerners these days. I have a suggestion: these western enthusiasts should keep their mouth shut because their voices being there greatly lessens the credibility of the Tibetan movement, if such a movement exists. In your last reply to Da Xiangchang you expressed “I leave that decision to the Tibetans, it is not mine to make.” That’s a sensible statement and I applaud you for it. Hope you mean it.
Once again, you retreat towards an infantile argument. In America, Native American land was stolen. In the PRC, Tibetan land was stolen. Even though every people that has ever existed has had land taken away from them at some point, you sweepingly consider every situation the same. By your standard, any land taken from any people, anywhere, at any time in human history, under any circumstances, despite any differences, ignoring any intent of the parties involved, despite any mitigating circumstances, must be returned, or else hypocrisy ensues. Your world isn’t shades of grey, it’s not even really black and white, to you its just one color, angry red.
You equivocate the situation of Native Americans hundreds of years ago to the Tibet of today, yet you cannot make any argument for why the two situations are similarly situated. I enunciated my standards, and applied them equally to both groups. Unfortunately, you never once elect any standard, or make any rational analysis of each party’s case. You show a galling ignorance regarding American history, law and government, creating a make-believe history of slavery in the US and the Civil War to suit your argument. “Why there was slavery in the US, it must be the same as slavery in Tibet!” Brilliant. When called to task you simply ignore and keep moving with the same argument.
I see you still haven’t addressed any issue brought up by any poster. The right to self-determination, violations of human rights, chauvinism, misapplication of facts, racial baiting, lack of knowledge regarding the American civil war …. As I stated before, to everything you say, “hah, you whiteman stole the indian’s land, you admit it!” Lest I forget, your favorite answer to anything seems to be “Hypocrite!”
Go right ahead, keep talking to yourself.
I remember at one time in my life I used to be an nationalistic teenage Chinese-American. China was always being wronged, anyone who criticized China was a hypocrite. Then while learning Mandarin from my Chinese instructor, I discovered she was Tibetan. I reached an epiphany because of our friendship. I never considered her story. I never once thought about her life, or what things were like for her. She and her people were a blank slate upon which I projected my insecurities. I should learn from her.
Gin: The “dialects” of Chinese are more dissimiliar to each other than the “languages” of Scandinavia (or even the Romance languages). The only difference between a language and a dialect is that a language has an army and navy. BTW, Chinese dialects (other than Mandarin) are spoken, but they aren’t exactly encouraged. For intance, Wu yu isn’t allowed to be taught in schools, isn’t allowed to be broadcast on the airwaves, and isn’t taught to foreigners.
DXC: Jeezus. The ignorance on these boards. You realize that the Yugoslavians were all more similiar to each other (genetically, culturally, and yes, even lingustically) than the Chinese, right (the only differentiation between them was religion)? For that matter, the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda were virtually identical genetically and spoke the same language as well (the way they were differentiated was by trade–the Hutus were originally farmers; the Tutsis were originally nomadic herders). On the other hand, the Swiss have had German, French, Italian, and Romanish speaking regions for centuries, and not only do they have possibly the world’s most stable and peaceful civil society (oldest democracy around), but also one of the world’s most robust economies.
For that matter, the Chinese have had people speaking various regionalects since forever, and never was the language spoken the reason for civil strife.
In other words, not only have you 2 been brainwshed, but you’ve been brainwashed with a theory (people speaking 1 language leads to a more happy, stable society) which does not hold at all under empirical scrutiny. Strife (in Yugoslavia, in Rwanda, in the US, and even in China) has always been created by cultural history, economics, and politicians. Never because of language. The US has had 1 civil war. Canada (with 2 language-regions) has had 0. The Spanish speaking parts of Latin American (all speaking 1 language, of course), have had too many to count.
On several of the point I don’t know where you come from. I never said speaking dialects or different languages causes strife. I did say improvements in communication reduces hostility. There is a difference. And through the examples I cited, particularly the Civil War analogy, I exactly wanted to illustrate that strifes (or the elimination of it) were the doings of cultural history, economics, and politicians.
When my western friends talk about the Tibetan or other minority issues they tend to link everything to a nonexistent independence movement of sort. However, I’m sorry to inform them that the political drive for this is simply not there. The best case that the Dali Lama could convincingly make is one of religious oppression plus one of language, but without a political drive these are going nowhere. The lack is only partly due to nondemocracy but also due to cultural history and cultural gravity. When you realize this, then, under the sole political juristiction, promoting a common language for the sake of communication and commerce makes great sense.
About dialect vs. language, when I said Chinese dialects were less different than languages, I refer to the cultural and people contents of the languages. People who speak them make the language what they are. No matter how different the dialectical pronuciations are, they are spoken by the same people, that’s what made the varieties of CHinese dialects, not different languages. You have to understand Chinese, the people, history and culture to be able to appreciate this fully.
Gin: I’m Chinese. Culturally, Cantonese and Beijingers are more different from one another than Bosnian Croat & Bosnian Serbs (who were killing each other just recently). That’s why the central government is so keen about fostering 1 central identity, because regionalism can very likely rise up.