Deconstructing Propaganda

Rebecca Novick has a long piece in the Huffington Post deconstructing Chinese propaganda in Tibet. She goes into great detail exploring one particular news report of Chinese development in Tibet. What’s remarkable is how incredulous the piece she breaks down requires readers to be. It’s like the Chinese government learned their propaganda techniques from watching late-night infomercials and 1940s war reels, and just threw in a dash of abject Han chauvinism and anti-Tibetan racism to make it uniquely Chinese. Fortunately, according to Novick, no one buys this propaganda:

So who is buying this? No one according to Tenzin Losel, a Tibetan human rights researcher with the International Campaign for Tibet. Losel was raised in Lhasa and now lives in Dharamsala, India. “Tibetans and Chinese both understand that the government report only the good things, never the bad. It’s clear that these people are coached. You can see from the way they speak they’re trying to think about what they’re supposed to say next. We see it as more like an annoyance. When they criticize the Dalai Lama on the TV, my mother would just say, ‘Change the channel'”.

Kunga Samten, a former monk, also grew up in Tibet. “No Tibetans believe it,” he says. “They know it’s all fake.” Samten is from a nomadic family and when he would watch stories like Red Flag Village on TV, especially those where Party officials visit nomad villages, he says he could easily see that it was staged. “The villagers will be in their best clothes when they’re supposed to be working. The authorities tell people what to wear, what to do, and what to say”.

Propaganda won’t make Tibetans stop yearning for freedom. It won’t make them stop celebrating their holidays.  It won’t make them stop worshipping the Dalai Lama. All propaganda will do is put the tacky veneer of control over Chinese ongoing, illegal military occupation of Tibet. And as we saw this spring, Tibetans reject Chinese rule as much today as they did fifty-eight years ago when the first Chinese troops invaded Kham and Amdo in eastern Tibet.

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