Designed to fill the information gap on Tibet for a broader Chinese-speaking audience, a new website in Chinese www.liaowangxizang.net underwritten by the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) launches today.
Rinchen Tashi, Deputy Director for Chinese Outreach at ICT said, “Despite advances in China’s internet infrastructure and information technology, the Chinese people have few options to get information on Tibet other than official Chinese sources.” Tashi added that “understanding that a unidirectional flow of information is not in the long-term interest of the Chinese and Tibetan people, we have launched www.liaowangxizang.net to provide a holistic view of the issues surrounding Tibet.”
In the absence of an alternative news source, many Chinese people continue to hold a negative impression of Tibetans and the Dalai Lama. While such a situation may serve the short-term political interest of the leadership in Beijing, it will not contribute to the unity and stability of the People’s Republic of China. In fact, a group of Chinese scholars wrote a letter on March 22, 2008 in which they stated, “…the one-sided propaganda of the official Chinese media is having the effect of stirring up inter-ethnic animosity and aggravating an already tense situation. This is extremely detrimental to the long-term goal of safeguarding national unity. ”
In the immediate aftermath of the March demonstrations in Tibet, the Chinese propaganda machine depicted Tibet and Tibetans in very negative terms which resulted in heightened racial tension between Chinese and Tibetans.
What is needed is to find and encourage common ground between Tibetans and Chinese in order to foster coexistence of the two cultures in whatever political future Tibet will have. Tibetan Buddhism is one such area that can contribute to bringing the two societies closer together. In a message to www.liaowangxizang.net Arjia Rinpoche, a prominent Tibetan Buddhist, and abbot of Kumbum Monastery in Tibet, quoted a traditional Chinese saying, “Chinese and Tibetans have a channel; This forum is the golden bridge.”
“www.liaowangxizang.net highlights different aspects of Tibetan Buddhism, and in particular focuses on areas of particular interest to the Chinese community,” said Pema Wangyal, ICT’s China Analyst, who coordinates outreach to Chinese Buddhists.
“Already there are increasing numbers of Chinese people benefiting from the spiritual foundation of Tibetan Buddhism,” Wangyal said, adding, “Historically, too, Buddhism has been a major force in the relationship between Tibetan and Chinese rulers.” www.liaowangxizang.net provides visitors with more features and options to not only get updated information on Tibetan issues, but it also acts as an social community, where Tibetans and Chinese can exchange views in a spirit of frankness and respect.
“The site has a blog where anyone can post their view. We are committed to publishing all perspectives as long as they are presented respectfully,” Tashi said. He added “It is our hope that through this website the Chinese speaking community, particularly those within China, will get a better understanding of all things related to Tibet and Tibetans.”