The Chinese people endured over a hundred years of being treated as a second-rate nation while European nations seized “spheres of influence” in a country whose history had created strong feelings of pride. Recent protests in Tibet were viewed by many Chinese people as an insult to their nation since many regard the struggle for Tibetan autonomy as
a Western attempt to divide their nation. After President Sarkozy indicated the possibility he might boycott opening ceremonies of the Olympics, thousands of Chinese people demonstrated against the French supermaket Carrefour to express their anger. More than 1,000 people carrying banners gathered in front of the Carrefour outlet in Xi’an chanting, “Oppose Tibet Independence,” “Go China,” and “Condemn CNN.”
A front page editorial in People’s Daily urged the nation to cherish patriotism. “As citizens, we have the responsibility to express our patriotic enthusiasm calmly and rationally and express patriotic aspiration in an orderly and legal manner.” It appears the Chinese government wants some protests but doesn’t wish to put things to the extent of getting into boycotts since such action could backfire against Chinese products in other nations.
There may well be greater anger among Chinese people against what they perceive was a distored reporting of events in Tibet by CNN and BBC. Several pieces of footage were identified which contained erroneous shots of events.
Many Western human rights organizatons may have misunderstood the extent of Chinese pride and nationalism. Unfortunately, most Chinese people are not concerned about the rights or feelings of Tibetans.