Territorial integrity is not a matter of free speech

By Zhang Yi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/28 23:33:39

The stereotype views the West has held on China seem difficult to change. Didi Kirsten Tatlow, a former correspondent for The New York Times in Beijing, recently wrote in the newspaper that China is meddling in Germany's democracy and challenging free speech and political protests on German soil.

One example she cited was an incident in November when China suspended a Sino-German soccer match after a group of spectators displayed Tibet-independence flags and the German side said it could not ban such protests. But what the author failed to understand is that the Tibet question is a matter of Chinese sovereignty; the Tibetan separatists aimed at splitting China and they should not use freedom of speech as an excuse.

For a long time, the West has been pointing an accusing finger at China's policies on the Taiwan question and the Tibet question. Western media deliberately muddle the fact that the issue is about sovereignty.

In January, China suspended the Chinese language website and app of the Marriott International hotel chain over an online questionnaire that suggested some Chinese regions, such as Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, were separate countries. While the company responded quickly with an apology, the Washington Post called the apology "pitiful" and said it is a typical example of "China's use of economic coercion to curtail freedom of expression."

Such misreading is a tool with which the Western elite engages with China. As prominent China observer Martin Jacques once pointed out, "The problem we have in the West at the moment, by and large, is the conventional approach that we understand it (China) really in Western terms, using Western ideas."

The West cannot truly understand the concerns of China - even if China has grown to be the world's second largest economy, it still faces the risk of territory being separated. For Western people who want to support Taiwan independence or Tibet independence, they can choose not to deal with China. Ordinary Chinese cannot tolerate two-faced nations. As China gets a greater say and becomes more confident in global affairs, it will not tolerate any moves by the West to infringe upon its sovereignty.

China didn't intervene in the internal affairs of Western countries. Rather, it is opposed to Western interference into its own affairs. The Western elite has tried relentlessly to change the system of other countries, sometimes through non-democratic means. If the West continues to see China through rose-colored lens, its future relations with China will be a bumpy road.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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