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Archive for the tag “China”

Tulku (book review)

TulkuTulku by Peter Dickinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve just read it for the third time. Perhaps that should make me an expert on the book, but reading it at intervals of 19 years meant that I don’t remember much from one reading to the next.

Theodore Tewker, orphaned 13-year-old son of an American missionary in China, meets up with an Englishwoman who is collecting botanical specimens. They travel together to Tibet (which at that time was independent of China) and spend some time at a Buddhist monastery. That much I remember from two readings, and I could have learnt it from the blurb. So it was like reading it for the first time.

I’ve read other books by Peter Dickinson, and as with this one, I find it had to remember the plot. The others were children’s books, and I remember that one of them was about Merlin, and that it reminded me a bit of That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis, which I have also read several times, but in that case I remember the plot pretty well. So that is an interesting phenomenon. I re-read C.S. Lewis’s books, even though I am familiar with the plot, for the small details and nuances that I may have missed on previous readings. One such in That Hideous Strength was a passing reference to Cecil Rhodes — see That hideous strength and Rhodes must fall | Khanya.

But Tulku I re-read not for the finer details, but because I had forgotten the broad outlines of the plot. I would like to re-read some of Dickinson’s other children’s books, but neither bookshop nor library seems to have them.

Tulku isn’t exactly a children’s book, though the protagonist, Theodore, is a child bang in the middle of puberty. At least it doesn’t feel like a children’s book. If my recollections of being that age are accurate, then I suppose my thought processes were pretty similar to Theodore’s, but I didn’t really take much time to reflect on my thought processes, and reading this book at age 13 would lay on me the demand that I did.

The other day a 13-year-old asked a question on the question-and-answer web site Quora, saying that he preferred to read adult books and found children’s books boring. And I dare say he might have found Tulku boring too. When I was 13 I read an “adult” book, The Wages of Fear by Georges Arnaud. I found it was gripping stuff, and made me think I wanted to be a lorry driver when I grew up. I wanted to see the film, but it had an age restriction — no persons 4-16 — but I persuaded my mother to take me to see it, and pretended I was 16. It wasn’t quite as thrilling as the book, and I was mystified by the age restriction. But my comment to the 13-year-old who found children’s books boring was that he might enjoy them more when he was older. And I suspect that that may be the case with Tulku.

View all my reviews

Zuma sells SA sovereignty to stop two old men having a party

The pettiness of the refusal of the government to give a visa to the Dalai Lama to stop two old men having a party puts us back to square one.

As Mamphela Ramphele puts it Ramphele backs Tutu on Dalai Lama – Times LIVE:

“Isn’t it ironic, that when he’s celebrating his 80th birthday, the most fundamental right — the right to association — is being taken away from him?

“He can’t have a party with his friends and they are just old men,” Ramphele said on Monday evening at a candlelight vigil outside Parliament to put pressure on the government to grant the visa.

That’s exactly the kind of petty nastiness one had come to expect from the National Party government. And it’s worse, because our constitution now upholds the rights to freedom of religion, freedom of travel, and freedom of association — all of which are trashed by this act. The old National Party was not as cynically hypocritical as that. They made no bones about it — any foreign religious leader was a persona non grata, and found it very difficult to get a visa. And any Nobel Peace Prize winner, domestic or foreign, was the same, and so the combination would not have much hope.

I suggest that any Southern African religious bodies hosting international conferences to which foreign religious leaders may be invited should seriously think of moving the venue to Botswana or Namibia, or they may find that their speakers are unable to attend. That would include the congress of the Southern African Missiological Society, due to be held in January 2012.

The petty spitefulness of stopping two pensioners having a party, however, is overshadowed by the implications for South African sovereignty. Zuma, who was elected ANC leader by promising to be all things to all men and courting universal popularity, is now finding that popularity gurgling down the drain, and trying to shore it up by disciplinary hearings of his most vociferous critics, but not daring to contradict his (and our) colonial masters.

As a student I sometimes enjoyed listening to Radio Peking (as it was spelt in those days), denouncing US imperialism as “a paper tiger, a bean curd tiger”. But Chinese imperialism seems to be lapping up South Africa like bean curd.

The Dalai Lama visited South Africa when Nelson Mandela was president, and again when Thabo Mbeki was president. Why not now? And above all, why stop him from coming to Desmond Tutu’s brithday party?

Tiananmen Square Is None of Your Business, Congress by Ron Paul

The US Congress recently debated a resolution condemning human rights abuses in China 20 years ago. At least one member of of their congress urges that they should be paying more attention to human rights abuses closer to home, and nearer to the present.

Tiananmen Square Is None of Your Business, Congress by Ron Paul:

While we certainly do not condone government suppression of individual rights and liberties wherever they may occur, why are we not investigating these abuses closer to home and within our jurisdiction? It seems the House is not interested in investigating allegations that US government officials and employees approved and practiced torture against detainees. Where is the Congressional investigation of the US-operated “secret prisons” overseas? What about the administration’s assertion of the right to detain individuals indefinitely without trial? It may be easier to point out the abuses and shortcomings of governments overseas than to address government abuses here at home, but we have the constitutional obligation to exercise our oversight authority in such matters. I strongly believe that addressing these current issues would be a better use of our time than once again condemning China for an event that took place some 20 years ago.

Hat-tip to A conservative blog for peace

A Constantinian moment for China?

Western missiologists seem to have a fixation on Constantine as the prime villain of Christian history (see Notes from underground: St Constantine, Scapegoat of the West) but some are now hinting at a new Constantinian moment in the East.

The Western Confucian: A Chinese Constantine?:

Father Francesco Sisci says the ‘exponential growth of Christianity in China would not have been possible without the forbearance and tacit encouragement of the regime’ and that ‘the Chinese government has shifted from persecution of Christians to subtle—and sometimes even open—encouragement of Christianity’ — China’s Catholic Moment.

He goes as far as to suggest that ‘it is not an exaggeration to say we are near a Constantinian moment for the Chinese Empire, as the government looks to Christianity—particularly Catholicism—for an instrument of social cohesion.’

A victory for workers’ solidarity with the Zimbabwean people

South African trade unions, churchmen and lawyers combined to turn away a ship carrying arms to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe at present has no legitimate elected government, since the results of an election held three weeks ago have been suppressed by former president Robert Mugabe and his junta of generals.

South Africa: A victory for workers’ solidarity with the Zimbabwean people | Links:

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the statement by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman that the China Ocean Shipping Company which owns the An Yue Jiang, has decided to recall the ship because Zimbabwe cannot take delivery of the 77 tonnes of weapons and ammunition onboard.

If true, this is an historic victory for the international trade union movement and civil society, and in particular for the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), whose members refused to unload or transport its deadly cargo.

Nicole Fritz, of the Southern African Litigation Centre, and Rubin Phillip, the Anglican Bishop of Natal, applied to the Durban High Court for an order to prevent the arms being landed or transported to Zimbabwe.

IOL: Chinese arms ship heading for Luanda:

Fritz said the Durban High Court granted the order for the ship’s conveyance permit to be suspended and that there could be no movement of the containers in which the arms were packed and no movement of the ship.

But lawyers were told by the sheriff of the high court that when an attempt to serve the order on the ship was made it was found that it had put to sea.

There are reports that the ship may try to offload its cargo in Walvis Bay or an Angolan port, but Namibian unions have been reported as taking similar action to the South African ones.

Tibet — mixed messages

I’ve been getting mixed messages about Tibet.

On the one hand there have been pro-democracy organisations like Avaaz trying to drum up support for Tibetan rebels:

On Monday, thousands of people in 84 cities worldwide marched for justice for Tibet–and delivered the 1.5 million-signature Avaaz petition to Chinese embassies and consulates around the globe. (Click for photos.) Avaaz staff have engaged with Chinese diplomats in New York and London, delivering the petition and urging action. And a growing chorus of world leaders is joining the call…

Together, we’ve built an unprecedented wave of global pressure. The Avaaz petition is one of the biggest and fastest-growing global online petitions on any topic in history; since it launched on March 18, it has been signed by 100,000 people per day–an average of more than 4,000 per hour, day and night.

Politicians understand that there is power in numbers. We need to show them that they have more to gain by listening to their own people–and heeding the cry for help from Tibet–than by giving China a pass in the lead-up to the Olympic Games. Take action now

http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_report_back/5.php/?cl=69533376

And then I read blog posts like this:

The Dalai Lama � Steph’s blog:

You don’t win a Nobel Peace Prize without having blood on your hands and the Dalai Lama is no different, it might suit his followers (the Gelug sect) and the Americans to pretend that the ”God-King” is a wise, benign, pacifist and has some sort of democratic mandate to rule Tibet, but that’s plainly not true.

He’s a murderous, racist, charlatan and Western stooge. When he was in power he was a brutal, merciless, theocratic despot, who lived in the 1000-room, 14-story Potala Palace, and his followers were eye-gouging, child-buggering, corrupt, religious fanatics, (see Michael Parenti: Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth). Although, that doesn’t stop the murderous old fraud and his “Free Tibet Movement” from being a cause celeb for liberal imperialists and gerbil lovers, under the pretext of human rights.

(Gerbils? What do they have to do with it? Are they native to Tibet?)

And then there are fellow South African bloggers like Reggie Nel saying things like Reggie: Stand with Tibet – Support the Dalai Lama: “After decades of repression, Tibetans are crying out to the world for change. China’s leaders are right now making a crucial choice between escalating repression or dialogue that could determine the future of Tibet, and China.”

But then again, on the other hand there is this: servethepeople: Tibet:

For his part, the Dalai Lama has successfully cultivated an image of gentleness, peace and simplicity which ahs an undeniable appeal to Westerners sickened by their own countries’ involvement in or support for exploitative and oppressive relations with the Third World, or alienated by the dehumanising nature of technological change and the general rat race of urban living. The Dalai is a “living Buddha” who has won acclaim, including a Nobel Peace Prize, for his rejection of violence.

The Dalai is also a clever and sophisticated politician, a wily manipulator of media opportunity and celebrity support.

However, he is not so clever that he cannot conceal his splittist intentions as regards China, nor his sham “patriotism” and “independence”.

These sound like harsh words, but they can be substantiated through the Dalai’s own materials.

So who is one to believe?

I think I go with Grant Walliser when he says Thought Leader � Grant Walliser � Free Tibet like you freed Kosovo:

Bottom line: China is a big pimp on the street and Serbia is not. That means you can gang up on Serbia, garner support in Kosovo and build US military bases in nice strategic positions. It means you can run detention centres like Guant�namo Bay in Kosovo and it means you can kick your old enemy Russia and your new one Iran smugly in the balls. And should Russian diplomacy make inroads with Poland and the Czech Republic when you need to put up your missile defence system at the confluence of Russia and Middle East, what a great alternative your new best buddy Kosovo would make. The clues to otherwise indefensible and incomprehensible behaviour are all in the timing and the agendas playing out behind the scenes (emphasis mine).

Come to think of it, what did Avaaz say about Kosovo?

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