Take note of grass-roots opposition to dissidents

By Yu Jincui Source:Global Times Published: 2012-6-18 0:10:07

Two recent pieces of news have caused a stir among China watchers. First, a delegation of 10 Chinese editors pulled out of the 2012 Sheffield International Documentary Festival to protest the organizer's decision to feature a film saluting activist Ai Weiwei. Second, a 17-member Chinese delegation headed by the Buddhist Association of China's Vice President Shi Yongxin left the 26th World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Yosu, South Korea on June 12, after the host broke its promise and invited Samdhong Rinpoche, a former senior member of the Dalai Lama group.

Ai Weiwei and the Dalai group have both been rejected by the mainstream of Chinese society but are portrayed in a noble light by the West. They have been granted high status by a few Western politicians and political forces. This high recognition abroad, however, is not acknowledged among the majority of Chinese.

Opposition against figures such as Ai and the Dalai Lama by Chinese authorities is often taken by the West as political suppression. But among the grass roots, this opposition should not be ignored. Non-governmental protests against separatists are not rare. When former French president Nicolas Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama in Poland in 2008 despite protests from the Chinese government, Chinese netizens initiated a boycott of French products nationwide. It was reported that over 10,000 netizens signed on to support the boycott on china.com in one day.

Despite the seemingly huge wave created by activists as reported by Western media, they have failed to make much of a dent within Chinese society. At the most, people are often puzzled as to why activists and separatists are given so much attention by the West. The Chinese public values more rational approaches to moving this huge country forward. But this simple feeling is often ignored by the West, thus putting itself at odds with Chinese mainstream society.

Chinese grass roots need to be more open in expressing their attitude and voices to the world on these marginal views that have been exaggerated by the West. The West is hoping to foment more challengers and clashes within China, but it will find  it has few followers.

Posted in: Observer

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