Contrasting views of Tibetan Immolations
Self-Immolation is defined as the offering of oneself as a sacrifice, especially by burning, in the name of a cause or strongly held belief. Tibetan monks started self-immolating in 2009 as a way to protest against the Chinese government. The Tibetans protest because of the way they are treated and to try to gain their independence from China. Self-immolations have really helped Tibetans push this issue Tibetan independence out into the public. So far countries have not stepped in on Tibet’s behalf but some countries face political pressure from their citizens due to these self-immolations. In this paper I will be showing how Tibetan self-immolations and the Dalai Lama are portrayed very differently in China than it is in the United States and other western countries.
Why the Monks are self-immolating
Many of the Tibetan Monks self-immolate because they want to gain freedom of religion, they would like to become there own country and they would like the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. The monks self immolate because they don’t believe in using violence to solve conflict. By doing self-immolations they only hurt themselves and not others. Tibetan monks have been very effective in using these self-immolations to draw attention to the political situation they are in. The monks have had to resort to such extreme methods because many of the times when they try to protest the Chinese government uses force to silence the protesters.
Chinese news source
Western news source
These two videos provide a lot of insight to what this project is going to be about. It is clear in the Chinese news source is pro China and very anti Dalai Lama. In the video Is There A black hand in Tibetan Self Immolation is suggesting and accusing the Dalai Lama as being the one behind the self-immolations. The other news source is a western news source that talks about how the Dalai Lama was forced to leave Tibet and how Tibetan monks are fighting for religious freedom. The western source shows the Tibetan monks as good people who are being abused by the Chinese government.
How the Dalai Lama is portrayed in China
China portrays the Dali Lama as a terrorist and a separatist. The Chinese government and media blame the self-immolations on the Dali Lama and say that he is behind them as a way to try to draw worldwide attention to the Tibet. This is clear from one of the titles I looked at from a Chinese news source. The title of the source was Dalai Lama’s agenda is bane to West, too. This title shows what the Chinese media think about the Dalai Lama. They believe that he has some different agenda that the western world does not understand. Another title that I found interesting was “White House should not become bully pulpit for Tibetan secessionists”. This title really speaks to how much distrust the Chinese media have for the Dalai Lama. The Chinese media portrays many of the Dali Lamas actions as if they have to do with trying to free Tibet. In this case the Dali Lama was suppose to meet with the president about morals. The Chinese media also does the most they can to paint the Dalai Lama in a negative way even if there is no conclusive evidence. In White House should not become bully pulpit for Tibetan secessionists the news source went as far to say “The Dalai Lama is essentially a political fugitive whose group instigates separatist activates including self-immolations”. It is clear that Chinas media is not a fan of the Dalai Lama and will do just about anything to show him or those he associates with in a undesirable way.
How the Dalai Lama is portrayed in the West
In the West you will be hard pressed to find news articles that portray the Dalai Lama in a negative way. In many cases he is looked to for wisdom. This can be seen a couple of different ways the first being that the president invited the Dalai Lama to the White house on a couple different occasions. In the most recent occurrence China threatened that there would be repercussion for this action and that it would greatly affect China and the United States relationship. This is apparent by looking at the Chinese article titled Obama-Dalai Lama meeting a lose-lose deal. It can be seen that the United States thinks highly of the Dalai Lama because even after these threats from China they still went ahead and met with him anyway. Another way I am able to determine that the West thinks highly of the Dalai Lama is because in the eight Western sources I looked at not a single negative thing was said about the Dalai Lama. On the other hand of the four Chinese sources I looked at 3 of the 5 said negative things about the Dalai Lama. It is clear that the Dalai Lama is depicted in a positive way in the West.
How Self Immolations are portrayed in China
In China the self-immolations are portrayed as acts of protest that are “encouraged” and the self-immolators are “Threatened by the Dalai Lama”. In China the media does the best job it can to promote China in the best possible way. One article I found extremely interesting was an article that tried to say that no Tibetans self-immolate. The article does not give any explanation for who the people that self-immolated were but just says “none of the 46,000 monks and nuns in Tibet, nor any local residents, have self-immolated”. The article was literally titled NO locals self-immolate in Tibet: official. This article went as far to blame the self-immolations that did occur on the Dalai Lama and says that the self-immolations were “manipulated by overseas separatist forces”. Another intriguing source that provided a lot of information on how China portrays the self-immolations is Monk distorts suicide as self-immolation. In this article China accuses another monk of miss presenting information to make it seem like there was a self-immolation when there really was none. The news article claims that the monk committed suicide because his girlfriend broke up with him and not as a form of protest. It is clear that China represents self-immolations in a very different way than the West.
How Self Immolations are portrayed in the West
The west represents the self-immolations in a very different way. One way they are different is that in the west they link words like “harsh” and “fiercely” with the Chinese government. It gives the reader the feeling that the Chinese government is the bad guys and beat up on the poor monks. This is not the message that is given by the Chinese media at all in fact it is quite the opposite. Another way the representation of Tibetan self-immolations are quite different is that the West has a mystic way of telling about these self-immolations. For example in Tibet’s Enduring Defiance a writer tells the story of the first monk to self-immolate in a vary mystic way which draws the reader into feeling bad for the monk. Later in the article China is painted as a cruel dictatorship that murdered or jailed Tibetans that were partaking in the Tibetan New Year celebrations. The article also says that “reportedly four Tibetans were executed, more than a thousand were illegally detained and countless others were unaccounted for”. This tries to give justification to the self-immolations that are taking place in Tibet. In the United Kingdom a story broke that talked about how China arrested a journalist for reporting on self-immolations. This is another example of the West showing China in a negative light and showing that the monks may be justified in their actions. This article has the description of the police coming into the house and being very stern and unforgiving with the man. In none of the Chinese articles were the police ever described as being unfair. The west clearly has its differences in its representation of self-immolations and the justification following it.
It is very different that the media for China and the West are telling two different tales. It is clear that the Chinese media is very pro China and anti Dalai Lama. The West tends to show a very different side of the self-immolations. The West is also clearly pro Dalai Lama. The biases of the articles I studied could be clearly seen through out the whole project. The media for China defiantly has a bias that favors its government and does not support the self-immolations. It is very important to remember that when looking at the articles from Chinese news sources. The Western news sources also have biases favoring the Dalai Lama and being anti China in some cases. All biases aside it is clear that the media has a huge impact on how the people of a country feel about a situation. A Chinese citizen feels way different about self-immolations when compared to a U.S citizen. This is in great part due to the media, which is practically telling two different stories.
Samphel, Thubten. “Self-immolation/Tibet/China.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 03 Jan. 2014. Web. 26 May 2014.
Gordts, Eline. “This Buddhist Nun Is The 133rd Tibetan To Self-Immolate Over China.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 01 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 May 2014.
“Obama Meets with Dalai Lama, Rankling China – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2014.
Woeser, Tsering. “Tibet’s Enduring Defiance.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Mar. 2014. Web. 27 May 2014.
Gladstone, Rick, and Henrik Pryser Libell. “Dalai Lama Urges Outside Inquiry Into Spate of Self-Immolations Among Tibetans.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 09 May 2014. Web. 27 May 2014.
Kaiman, Jonathan. “China Arrests Citizen Journalists for Reporting Tiananmen ‘self-immolation'” Theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media, 13 Mar. 2014. Web. 26 May 2014.
“Exiled Tibetans, Nepalese Police Clash on Anniversary of Failed Uprising.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 27 May 2014.
“Commentary: Dalai Lama’s Agenda Is Bane to West, Too.” Ed. Chen X. Shilei. N.p., 14 Mar. 2014. Web. 25 May 2014.
Xinhua Pryser. “No Locals Self-immolate in Tibet: Official.” English People. N.p., 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://english.people.com.cn/90785/8560054.html>.
Yushan, Deng. “Commentary: White House Should Not Become Bully Pulpit for Tibetan Secessionists.” English People. N.p., 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 May 2014.
Yan, Zhou. “China Voice: Obama-Dalai Lama Meeting a Lose-lose Deal – People’s Daily Online.” China Voice: Obama-Dalai Lama Meeting a Lose-lose Deal – People’s Daily Online. English People, 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://english.people.com.cn/90883/8543194.html>.