Chinese vent anti-Western fury online
Bloggers are now calling for boycotts and stoking death threats over perceived insults from Westerners who have criticized China's human rights record ahead of this summer's Olympic Games.
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Most Chinese are baffled by the Western outcry over Tibet, he points out, since they believe that Tibet has always been part of China and that Tibetans have benefited from the country's growing prosperity.Skip to next paragraph
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"They think that Tibet cannot be the real reason" for Western criticism of China, Lieberthal adds. "They think that the real reason must be that no matter what they do … the West will give them no credit."
The tone of the Internet debate has grown increasingly heated. "Don't think all Westerners are arrogant and ignorant, but right now most of them are" was among the most moderate postings Wednesday on a china.com discussion thread.
A campaign to boycott Carrefour, the popular French supermarket chain, has gathered pace in recent days through text messages and e-mail chain letters. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has indicated he may not attend the Olympic opening ceremony if Beijing does not open talks with the Dalai Lama.
"Boycott Carrefour. Slap them in the face. Let the beast disappear from Chinese territory," reads one chat-room post urging people to shop elsewhere.
Another campaign spreading like wildfire through the Chinese MSN instant message network calls on users to put "I heart China" in front of their usernames. "Let's show the whole world how united we are," one instant message suggests.
Chinese students abroad have taken up the cudgels, planning big demonstrations in Europe and Australia. Chinese students at Duke University have assailed one of their compatriots, Grace Wang, who attended a pro-Tibet demonstration on campus, with hate mail and death threats; others have carried the campaign to her parents' home in Qingdao, upending a bucket of feces by their front door.
Officials have also joined the fray. The official Xinhua news agency carried an unusually harsh commentary last weekend attacking Ms. Pelosi – a longstanding critic of the Chinese government – as "disgusting" and "detested by the Chinese people."
Government-run newspapers have run a series of articles condemning what authorities say is unfair foreign press coverage of Tibet-related issues. On Tuesday, China Daily published an editorial arguing that "Westerners have been blaming Chinese authorities for cultivating nationalist sentiments through patriotic education. No patriotic education could possibly be as effective as the Western media's distortion of facts and Western politicians' brazen disregard of the truth."
In an opinion piece published in the same paper, China's ambassador to London, Fu Ying, complained of "the media's attempt to demonize China" and warned that "we all know that demonization feeds a counter-reaction.
"I am concerned that mutual perceptions between the people of China and the West are quickly drifting in opposite directions," she wrote.