I’m sure there’s a lot of what follows that could be connected to cultural obtuseness and a simple lack of understanding that in America we don’t really talk or think the way the Chinese government is suggesting President Obama thinks. But then again, most of this is straight up racism. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry has suggested that since President Obama is black, he should support what the Chinese government says was an abolition of slavery in Tibet.
A Chinese government spokesman said Barack Obama should be especially sympathetic to China’s opposition to the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence, as a black president who lauded Abraham Lincoln for helping abolish slavery.
After Obama’s inauguration, the U.S. president said he would not have been able to reach that position without the efforts of Lincoln, said Qin.
“He is a black president, and he understands the slavery abolition movement and Lincoln’s major significance for that movement,” said Qin.
“Lincoln played an incomparable role in protecting the national unity and territorial integrity of the United States.”
Beijing calls the Dalai Lama a dangerous “splittist” encouraging Tibetan independence, a charge he denies. He says he is merely seeking true autonomy for Tibet, which last year erupted in riots and protests against the Chinese presence.
China’s stance was like Lincoln’s, said Qin.
“Thus on this issue we hope that President Obama, more than any other foreign leader, can better, more deeply grasp China’s stance on protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Qin.
Wow. Just wow.
There’s so much historical inaccuracy, abject racism, and ignorance in Qin’s statement to unpack, it’s hard to know where to start.
On the American Civil War: the union government had not previously conquered an independent confederacy prior to the South leaving the union. The US was always one united country, north and south, prior to the South’s attempt to leave the union and establish their own government. That effort lead to a brutal, bloody war and was only resolved through shattering violence. Today the North and South is strongly united and the North maintains no occupying military presence in the South.
Contrast this to Tibet and China. Tibet, a historical independent country with documented independence going back hundreds of years, was invaded by the Chinese army under Mao in 1949. It has been occupied illegally since then and remains a totally militarized territory where tourists, foreigners, and journalists are subject to massive restrictions of movement.
Or, to put it more succinctly, there is no similarity between Lincoln’s role to preserve the union during the Civil War and Hu Jintao’s current crackdown in Tibet to maintain China’s military occupation.
Also, just because Barack Obama is an African-American, it does not mean he will blindly embrace whatever position the Chinese government fantasizes Abraham Lincoln would hold with regard to Tibet and China.
The Chinese government has been putting immense pressure on President Obama to say Tibet is a part of China and cancel all meetings with the Dalai Lama. There’s certainly some evidence that their pressure has been working. But I have to imagine that even if the Obama administration is inclined to relax American support for the Dalai Lama and Tibet, this sort of racist, anti-historical insanity from the Chinese government will slow Obama’s movement to where China wants him to be. At least, one would hope that he doesn’t let crap like this influence his foreign policy strategy.