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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wenran Jiang, "Tibetan unrest, Chinese lens," openDemocracy, April 7, 2008.

[This article introduces the relatively new concept of cybernationalism. In May 2006, the Norwegian anthropologist, Thomas H. Erikson presented a working paper on Nations in Cyberspace. Responses to that paper are reproduced here.


"For their part, many in the Chinese diaspora have exhibited a strong sense of nationalism that opposes any Tibetan independence movement and resents any form of boycott of the Beijing Olympics.

"What is surprising, however, is the very high level of mobilisation of Chinese public opinion (including in the blogosphere) that is not as much a response to Beijing's rallying calls for national unity as it is a strong reaction to what many Chinese perceive as the one-sided reporting of the Tibetan unrest by the western press. Chinese people everywhere want their side of the Tibet story told.

"In 1989, Chinese people all over the world, including scholars and students from the mainland, protested against the government crackdown on students in Tiananmen Square. This time, by contrast, Chinese people - in European and Canadian cities, for example - have taken to the streets in support of Beijing.

"While many overseas Chinese believe that Beijing's extremely harsh and hostile words against the Dalai Lama are neither effective nor well received by the western public, they still see western news media as being excessively anti-China. (Many noted errors in the reporting, including the mislabelling of photos of Indian and Nepalese police confronting demonstrating monks as Chinese soldiers cracking down in Tibet.)

"They have fed their observations back to Chinese cyberspace instantly, in a process that is part of an emerging synergy of cybernationalism connecting many Chinese at home and abroad."


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Wenran Jiang is an associate professor of political science at the University of Alberta, Canada, and acting director of the China Institute (CIUA) there This article is also published in the Globe and Mail.Recommend this Post

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