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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

[Interview] Chinese students express their views on China's sensitive issues

August 17, 2008

We Have Made a Mark in the World
Ohmynews (Korea)
Jin Hye-ji
August 15, 2008

Six days into the Olympic Games, there have been three terror attacks
in Xin Jiang, two bombings in Shanghai and Kunming, and several
protests on Tibet and human rights in the host city of Beijing.

Interviews with several Chinese university students allow us to hear
their views on sensitive issues in China challenging the Beijing 2008
Olympics. However, their views differ slightly on which "Chinese" they are.

The following ethically Chinese students from Mainland China, Hong
Kong, Taiwan and Singapore shared their individual views in person
and though e-mail interviews:

- Qingdao students studying in Seoul: Wen Jie, Lee and Xu Feng, Zhang.
- Singaporean students studying in HKU: Kenneth Koo and Andy Ho.
- Hong Kong student studying in HKU: Maggie Wong.
- Beijing/Hong Kong student studying in HKU: Kaspar Lau.
- Shanghai students studying in HKU: Maggie Ma and Hazel Zhao.
- Taiwan student studying in Canada: Phil Kuo.
- Hong Kong student studying in Guangzhou: Mason Huang.
- Hong Kong student in Australia: Sam Yao.

Question: How do you feel about China hosting the Olympic Games this year?

Wen Jie, Lee: It's time to show the world what we are capable of accomplishing!

Andy Ho: Glad that it's in Asian soil for a change.

Kenneth Koo: Proud and Happy, feels like Chinese and Asians have made
a mark in the world.

Phil Kuo: It is great to have something bigger than the Chinese New Year.

Hazel Zhao: It is a big opportunity and a challenge.

However, despite the excitement, some students show worries.

Maggie Ma: Mixed feelings due to current problems and issues in China.

Kaspar Lau: Excited but things happening in Xin Jiang and problem
about Tibet worries me.

Question: Beijing's polluted air was a big issue before the games
started. What are your thoughts on that?

Two students were not really aware of the issue.

Xu Feng, Zhang: Was it a big issue? I think people living in Beijing
are used to the air. So if it wasn't for the games the Chinese
government wouldn't have emphasized too much on it.

Sam Yao: Actually, I do not really know how bad the problem is in
reality although I definitely doubt the air is not good in Beijing.

However, these students show positive views on the air issue.

Kenneth Koo: I would say that they have done an excellent job;
frankly speaking, no developing country could have solved or rather
minimize the problems in a matter of 3-5 years. Instead of gauging
China's progress, in terms of pollution, with a pollution index, we
should look at how much China has "cleaned" up in terms of pollution;
comparing it in ratios and percentage with previous years.

Maggie Wong: With its emphasis on "Green Olympics," transportation
regulations plus shutting down factories, it is certain to see change
in the coming years.

Hazel Zhao: It has been problematic for years. But even other
countries that hosted the Olympics were once criticized too for
polluted air. As long as you don't nitpick at the issue, I think it's
understandable of wanting China to improve its air. However,
overemphasis on pollution reduction may [create] bias and lack of
understanding towards China.

Two students talk about the criticism China is facing.

Andy Ho: The criticisms are crucial for Beijing to keep their
monitoring and promises leading to the games. The danger to the
athletes' health is also important that they won't suffer just
because of the games.

Maggie Ma: Constructive criticism is acceptable but criticizing China
with negative intentions is not a very rational.

Regarding the terror attacks in Xinjiang, what are your thoughts on
the affects it has for the Chinese people.

Wen Jie Lee: I am not too worried. I have strong beliefs for the
government that they will handle it well for its citizens.

Xu Feng, Zhang: Terror attacks do happen and we have better things to
focus on such as the Olympics!

Andy Ho: So far it's only at Xinjiang. We can only hope that it will
not target the games' venues. If an attack actually happened, the
reputation of the Chinese security forces and some might believe the
Chinese in general might be marred.

Kenneth Koo: I doubt it would affect Chinese in China, and personally
I feel it's uncalled for, doing something this unnecessary at such a
time. Moreover, I feel that the measure China has already taken seems
to be the best solution at the moment.

Hazel Zhao: Using extreme methods for their own goals is illegitimate
and immoral. Hence it is no longer understandable and worth sympathy.
Mostly it would have less impact on rational and civilized people.

Maggie Ma: It is a threat globally not only China. But like past
terror events the good and the justice will not be defeated.

Kaspar Lau: Demanding freedom or separatism through terrorism will
only increase hatred and anger.

Question: A lot of people say there is still no human rights in
China, freedom of speech and act, etc. What do you think?

Wen Jie Lee: I think China has its reason in how they control its
people. The Chinese government has become more sensitive after the
Sichuan earthquake and Tibet issue so regulating foreign media press
earlier on was something they thought they had to do.

Xu Feng, Zhang: Human rights and freedom of speech and such are
improving. As a student I can see the change through the internet and
we Chinese are not complaining why should they care? One hundred
percent human rights or freedom of speech is not always necessary and
the basis is to understand the state of the country.

Kenneth Koo: Instead of judging China in respect to the lack of human
rights, why not compare the difference, the growth China has made
over the years. The changes are significant, way better and faster
than any country would have done. I feel people should give China
more time, and in addition, China being in Asia is rich in its
traditions and cultures; and in such cultures and traditions, there
are certain customs that are deem as a lack of human right.

Kaspar Lau: Protesting about human rights and so on is only an excuse
of the west to assault China. But it only counts for the people
living in rural areas. Actually, it shouldn't be any other countries business.

Maggie Ma: Collectivism is the mainstream thinking of most Asians
unlike the west. Sacrificing the minorities for the well being of the
majorities is part of the tradition. It sure has suppressed
individual development, but don't forget that we are talking about
1.3 billion people here in China. If we allowed full rights and
freedom of speech, nothing could be as disastrous as that. Achieving
democratic justice instantly is impossible. People-oriented is the
basis for human rights. As for China, whether we do or don't have
human rights we should see how we define human rights. Using the
west's way of thinking and moral ethics to evaluate China, it is
obvious we won't pass the test. Luckily, China is moving towards a
developed, civilized and moral-free path, yet it is long and we can
do nothing about that.

Andy Ho: Obviously, they still have a lot to improve from, but taking
into consideration the world demands a significant change of
operating methods from before, they're already doing a respectable job.

Sam Yao: This is a huge issue to talk about. At the end I think every
country has its own way of regulating, and what eventually comes out
would prove who is right, based on different situations.

Hazel Zhao: Most are just playing to the gallery and the few are
fighting for human rights. Genuinely China is far from democracy but
it is because of its history and the enormous population. I think it
needs constant attention and consulting but not over exaggerated
declarations and allegations may only seem impotent. We need measures
and blueprint not acting like snobby mobs

Question: What are your thoughts on the Tibet issues?

Sam Yao: Xizang is part of China, period.

Kenneth Koo: Tibet was, is and always will be part of China. People
are always talking about giving Tibet the right to be independent,
then maybe one day; Texas, Illinois, New York, London, Bristol may
also ask for independence and I guess during then, both the president
and prime minister of America and England would allow that.

Wen Jie Lee: Tibetans live better now than the Dalai Lama period. I
don't understand what their problem is. Chinese history textbooks
state that Tibet is part of China and so is it for Taiwan.

Xu Feng, Zhang: I think it's only -- a small minority who think they
represent the majority of the Tibetans.

Kaspar Liu: It was a slave society during the rule of Dalai Lama.
Most of the people were his slaves. Now he says they don't have human
rights and demanding for separatism is only for his self-interest.

Hazel Zhao: Tibetans voices have been silenced by violent forces. We
should give the Tibetans themselves the freedom to vote but not
hurting them. They should have the choice to be with or without the
Chinese government. Extreme ideology is always seditious but lacks rationality.

Maggie Wong: I think it is normal for the government to intervene and
suppress the Tibet riots. Some of the suppression may have been
brutal, but that should also be the case for any riots in other countries.

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