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Who's afraid of Big Bad China?



When I was a kid in Catholic school, the nuns taught us that one of the secret prophesies revealed by Mary, the Mother of Jesus, when she appeared to three poor shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, was allegedly: “The yellow race will rule the world.” Even in the 1950s, we understood that the yellow race meant the Chinese. We joked that we all loved Chinese food so maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

But now I am of a different mind. For the most part, it’s the Chinese who stitch our underwear, make our plastic flowers, and sell us software online. Meanwhile, the Beijing Bullies are losing face with the civilized world. They suppress the voices of their own people and threaten anyone who believes in Freedom.

In fact, they have tried to erase Tibet from the world consciousness. Just go to your local toy store and pick up any globe (95 percent are made in China) and you will not see TIBET anywhere. Does this disgust me? You bet it does.

What can I do? Keep informed, for one thing. Keep reporting the news from Tibet.

Today I received an uplifting report. According to the International Campaign for Tibet, “Chinese government authorities have failed to stop a film on Tibet from being shown at a major international festival in Palm Springs, California, despite pressure on festival organisers. In protest, the Chinese government withdrew two Chinese films from the festival, and it is now attempting to spin the decision as having been taken by one of the Chinese film directors.”

Well, hot won ton! The dictators have failed. The Director of the festival, Darryl Macdonald, released a formal statement on 6 January that said, “After meeting with representatives from the Chinese government regarding their request to cancel our screenings of ‘The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom,’ we have respectfully declined their request. I’m saddened that the Chinese film authorities have chosen to withdraw their films from PSIFF, as the Festival is an international cultural event whose mandate is to present a wide cross-section of perspectives and points of view. That said, we cannot allow the concerns of one country or community to dictate what films we should or should not play, based on their own cultural or political perspective. Freedom of expression is a concept that is integral both to the validity of artists events, and indeed, to the ethos of this country.” “The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom”, produced by husband and wife team Tenzing Sonam, a Tibetan exile, and Ritu Sarin, is about Tibet and the Dalai Lama. In a written reaction, the couple said: “It is clear that the directors of the Chinese films (that were withdrawn for the festival) had no choice in the matter and were as much victims of their government’s authoritarian policies as we, the intended targets, were meant to be. As China now feels emboldened enough to attempt to impose its will on independent cultural events in a country as powerful and as symbolic of the right to free speech and expression as the United States of America, we can begin to understand the extent of repression within its own borders. It is not surprising that even as the Chinese government was putting pressure on PSIFF to remove our film from its line-up, it imposed a six-year sentence on Tibetan filmmaker, Dhondup Wangchen, for making a film that showed the true feelings of Tibetans in Tibet about their exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, and their situation under Chinese rule.”

Whatever the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima might have revealed to the three children during her many alleged visits with them, I’ll never know. Allegedly, even the Vatican suppressed the truth about the secrets. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward very much to seeing “The Sun Behind the Clouds, Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom.”

May all the beings in all the worlds be happy!

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—— Terry Reis Kennedy is a poet, journalist, and Tibetologist. With kind permission of Tibet Sun