If I had not been to China, I would probably agree with Brahma Chellaney’s assessment of rising social unrest in Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia (Aug. 6 article, “Cracks in the Chinese wall”).
In 2008 and 2010, I was in Lhasa, Turfan, Kashgar, Urumqi and Ordos. Surprisingly, I was able to walk around unimpeded by police escorts or state surveillance
Most, if not all, of the locals — who don’t look Han at all, as my American companions were quick to point out — have been very welcoming of foreigners and other Chinese people. Listening to what they have to say about reports of unrest on CNN or the BBC, I sense a huge disconnect.
Perhaps out of politeness on their part, I fail to detect any sense of animosity. German and Dutch tourists and longtime residents in the area seem to share the same view. This suggests that the foreign press tends to distort or blow up incidents.
In reading Chellaney’s opinion, I am reminded of why many Chinese friends would insist that I come to China and see for myself what the situation is.
I don’t know about cracks in the Great Wall, but I certainly trust what my eyes see and what my heart feels. It bothers me that misinformation could result in creating another myth like the Tiananmen “massacre.”
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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