April 22, 2008
Buddhism and gender, from the Lehigh University newspaper.
Hu Jintao and Kevin Rudd of Australia are having an interesting back and forth over the Tibet issue:
President Hu Jintao made a terrific speech at the opening of the Boao Forum on Hainan island that Rudd attended. Earlier that day he had held his first formal discussion with Rudd as Australian leader.
The Chinese media did not cover this in the usual way, stiff photos of the leaders sitting in large adjacent armchairs and a few familiar phrases about warm relations.
Instead, we saw the party's propaganda department using the meeting to send the strongest possible message.
The focus of the Chinese media's coverage of the discussions, guided unerringly by the propaganda department, whose boss Rudd met during his previous visit to Beijing 18 months ago, was a lecture by Hu to Rudd.
The official Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying: "Our conflict with the Dalai clique is not an ethnic problem, not a religious problem, not a human rights problem. It is a problem of either safeguarding national unification or splitting the motherland. The Tibet problem is entirely an internal issue of China."
Rudd had said in his brilliantly conceived and delivered speech at Beijing University that opened his visit to China three days earlier that "it is necessary to recognise there are significant human rights problems" in Tibet.
Now he was being told: don't think that just because you speak Chinese, know China well, and describe yourself as a "zhengyou" (a true friend) that gives you immunity from getting China wrong, or from our telling you in plain words when you've got us wrong.