it’s not about Tibet

I frequently read Tim Johnson’s blog on China — he’s the Beijing bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers and often has really interesting things to say and good selections of links.

The blog has, of late, become quite embroiled in the Olympics Torch Relay, e.g. the global referendum on China and Tibet. It’s easy to get pretty caught up reading the comments, which are sometimes thoughtful, sometimes angry, and sometimes factually incorrect. Johnson wrote a post over the weekend about the flame’s journey through Nagano, Seoul, and last week’s stop in Canberra. He says he was “haunted” by a passage from a story in an Australian daily about a Chinese nationalist protester who used his child to spark anger in a pro-Tibet protester. I was haunted for another reason. Here’s the lead:

HERE comes the ugly face of China. He
can’t be any more than 21-years-old. His eyes are full of hate, his jaw
clenched so tight his cheeks seem ready to snap. His brain already has.

Later in the article, the author, Garry Linnell says, “But the fierce display of nationalistic pride by a pro-Chinese crowd of up to 10,000 caught everyone by surprise.” Nationalism certainly brings out China’s ugly face, but it also appears to be bringing out the ugly faces of many others. This story — I am still not sure if it ran as news or opinion, but I am hoping for the latter — was headlined, “Chinese overrun our capital.” I could parse this phrase to explain why its very inflammatory and tells you a lot about the state of racial politics in Canberra, but I’m hoping I don’t have to.