《时代周刊》Blog给中国人上历史课

《时代周刊》有一个“中国博客”,作者有Simon Elegant 、Liam Fitzpatrick 、Ling Woo Liu 、Bill Powell和Austin Ramzy,内容是这四位先生女士用英文报道和谈论中国事物。

3月23日,Simon Elegant针对一位自称是《People’s Daily》编辑的留言,写了一篇历史课程,标题就叫《A Little History….》:

A Little History….
By Simon Elegant

From The China Blog

Some interesting comments on our blog about Tibet over the last few days….and a great many others that were of the tediously nationalistic, your-coverage-is-biased, Yankee go home, China-good-America-bad type.

Anyway, one of the former came from Champson Liu, an editor at the People’s Daily. Here’s what he had to say (and the “mouthpiece” phrasing is his, not mine by the way):

Dear TIME Editor,

I am an editor of People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece and largest newspaper of China.

Mr. Simon Elegant’s report “Tibetans in China: Fearing the Worst” on Mar. 18, 2008 was wrong in the basic fact that “Tibet had been an independent nation, before it was annexed by China in 1951.”

Given Mr. Elegant’s familiarity with Chinese history, such an error seems very, very misleading to TIME readers and risks the reputation of TIME as a reliable source of information.

To put historical facts straight, the time Tibet was formally annexed into China was in 1727, when China’s Yongzheng Emperor of the last Qing Dynasty established the post of Minister for Tibetan Affairs in Lhasa for formal rule. Other historians argue the formal annexation could be traced back to 1306, when Tibet was first ruled from Beijing. Actually, either way, the name “Dalai Lama” was originally given by the Emperor through a court decree.

In 1911, when the Qing Dynasty was overthrown by the Republic of China, Tibet declared independence just like every other province of China, but neither the Chinese government in Nanking nor Washington or London recognized it. When the Communists came to power, Mao decided to reclaim Tibet and sent troops in. Simon should avoid making Western readers conclude China suddenly occupied Tibet as Israel did to Palestain, or risks misleading readers on Tibet the same way all Western media typically do.

These are all verifiable historical facts that can be crosschecked from Western sources. I would appreciate it if TIME could set the facts straight.

Thank you.

A number of other commentators made this point about the status of Tibet between 1911 and 1951 so I went back and checked. I think they are right. In future, I shall use the phrase “de facto independent nation” or “effectively independent” when referring to Tibet during that period. It is true that Tibet had its own currency, soldiers, government etc. during that period. It is also true that no one except Mongolia recognized it as an independent nation. But it was clearly functioning as an independent state governed by Tibetans and was thus quite different from other comparable, ethnically non-Han areas of China such as Xinjiang and inner Mongolia, both of which were run by Chinese warlords or the KMT or the Japanese.

The broader point here isn’t just about the exact status of Tibet after the overthrow of the Qing. It’s about whether or not Tibet has any claim to be an independent country at any time. The answer is of course an unequivocal “yes”. Before the Mongols, Tibet had its own empire that stretched all the way to Bengal and of course included bits of China: from the Tang dynasty on, the Tibetans regularly invaded what is now China and occupied large chunks.

Yes, Tibet was made a client state by China whenever it could enforce that status. But whenever Chinese power waned, Tibet asserted its independence. It’s also worth noting that the 1306 annexation Mr. Liu refers to (actually, most historians put the annexation at 1246, which happens to have also been when China was incorporated into the Mongol empire, putting things in perspective) was by Mongols, not Chinese. And of course, the invasion by the Emperor Kangxi in 1720 that installed a pro-Beijing Dalai Lama was by Manchu troops, though no doubt the bannermen were supported by Chinese. Does that mean that Manchu’s can claim that in fact they should rule Tibet, note to mention China itself? Of course not. No more than Italy can ask for Britain back because it ruled there for four centuries. Or Britain can attempt to reverse the 1923 independence of Ireland on the grounds it ran the place (and pretty brutally at that) for a similar period. All the argument about dependencies and client states can’t change the fact that Tibetans speak a totally different language and have completely separate culture and customs. We are supposed to be living in an age when peoples are more free to express themselves –and rule themselves–and when military occupation of what is clearly a totally separate country is not acceptable to the international community.

《时代周刊》Blog给中国人上历史课》上有8条评论

  1. 呵呵,掐架才有意思,一群牛气冲天的的博主们,并非抱着掐架的心态而来,而是带着一刀砍死你的心态而来,既不为说服你,也不为驳倒你,只为砍死你。不若抽点时间看看英文世界里是如何掐架的,解解新闻和说教带来的闷。
    好推荐。

  2. 如果说不同的语言,有不同的文化和风俗习惯就成为要求独立的主要理由, 那中国该不是要分成50几个国家, 什么跟什么嘛

  3. 人吃饱了,就什么都爱插一嘴,有几个美国媒体从来不把苏格拉底的奉劝当回事,我就不觉得CNN是个扫盲班水平以上的人该看的.

    说起中国历史,围炉那几个老家伙绝对可以给Y们当导师了.

  4. 我手上正好有一本书,是加拿大作者在上世纪90年代写得,该人现在90多了,退休前也曾是各大报纸的专栏记者。

    以下是偶尔谈到的西藏问题节选:

    “While on the subject of Tibet, why is it that our world won’t allow that it is part of China?

    Which of us has such a thing as a Chinese history book?

    Emperor Qianlong first took control of Tibet in 1751, two hundred years before. That’s 25 years before the US declaration of Independence. That’s before the Treaty of Paris which ceded Canada to the British. That’s about a hundred years before the Unification of Italy, more than a hundred years before the unification of Germany and almost two centuries before the birth of Israel. Shouldn’t we now ask ourselves if our hysteria, which has made us scream against the Chinese claims to Tibet, haven’t more in common with the hysteria that bred such fanatics as Joseph McCarthy? Now that the ashes of the Cold War have cooled, as have the ashes of Joseph McCarthy, shouldn’t we now recognize China’s right to the territory just as we have accepted the Jews’ right to theirs?

    Its has been claimed that there is no religious freedom in China. That is an unfair charge. All of the people in Tibet are Buddhists. There is a political move in Tibet to separate Tibet from China. Just as Lincoln would not accept that separation of the South from the North, neither will China accept the separation of Tibet from the rest of China. ”

    老和,既然引述了一方观点,并且也说了这是给中国人补历史,那么请再把反方的观点也传播给大家看看,最大的希望是你的博客上有老外,或者有高手能把加拿大人自己写的这段话放到youtube上。

  5. 历史?
    If American really believe that people should has the right to say on their independence, the Indians would have the vote long time ago.
    There is a culture difference between Chinese and American: Chinese believe there is a wrong or right on everything, while American only believe their own side of the story regardless of facts.

  6. I can understand the painful feeling when UK HAS TO give up massive lands around the world it once occupied. That’s why Simon Elegant hates China so much.
    He is stupid piece of garbage that should be eradicated from the human society!!

    CNN From 加拿大

  7. CNN有什么权利给中国人上课,去看china blog 那几个记者无非就是在北京上海香港呆过一段时间,有什么深入了解么?拿着cnn的钱,不替cnn说话?他们还没傻到那种程度。
    况且,我们还不要把hk说的太有中国特色。在hk的家伙甚至不比在bj sh。
    顺便还想奉劝去这里争辩的爱国人士,有时是徒劳的,因为他们根本就是站在cnn的立场,你们说什么都没用的。

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