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Monday, 31 March 2008

China, Tibet and the Innocent Child

In the past, as can be seen from this poster of the minorities of China, there was harmony and unity in the Middle Kingdon.

Then came the violence of the splittist Dalai Clique, spreading disharmony and anguish wherever it reigned, despite double digit increases in Tibetan farmer's income in the previous...

Oh dear, something got into my head there....

Back to reality and China and where do you start really? Tibet, Xinjiang, support for Burma, Sudan, land rights, labour rights (including those directly related to the Olympics), forced labour, China's collecting the cliches of human rights violations (here is the UN declaration of Human Rights - tick off the ones violated in China and then, just for fun, do the same for your country - it always makes for interesting reading).

The interesting thing about the depiction of minorities in Chinese propaganda posters such as the one above was how they were shown as childlike people, playing happily in the fields, tending their surprisingly docile stock, wearing colourful outfits and smiling, smiling, smiling.

This idea of the colourful, innocent native had its roots in Victorian ideas of the Innocent Child. They're innocent, they know nothing, so we have to look after them.

It's a paternalistic idea that is best expressed in the idea that children should be seen and not heard. It's an excuse to ignore, neglect and ultimately abuse. And the children are only seen as benevolent as long as they stay quiet - as long as they remain innocent. Any ability to complain or act independently, and the child is transformed from innocent to evil - it's the virgin/whore syndrome but for kids.

This applies for children. It also applies for peoples and for countries. It's a rationalisation that is at the root of colonialism and occupation of people and land in the name of all kinds of ideologies from capitalist to China's sort-of-communist.

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