Of those who protested loudly, many probably have not seen Tibet. For the Chinese people, Tibet is a loved land and information about it is ample. 4 million tourists visit Tibet every year. The past 5 years saw the income of farmers and herdsmen increasing by 83.3%. In 2006 there were more than 1,000 schools with 500,000 students. In this Autonomous region where 92% of the population is Tibetans, there are 1780 temples, or one for every 1,600 people, more than in England, where there is one church for every 3,125 people. On the complicated question of religion mixing up with politics, separation is unacceptable. But people are well-fed, well-clothed and well-housed. That has been the main objective of China for centuries. Tibet may not grow into an industrial place like the eastern cities in China, but it will move on like other parts of China.
I personally experienced China's transition to opening up, from small steps to bigger strides. I remain a consistent and firm supporter of opening up.
The latest events have led the younger generation of Chinese born after the 80s, who grew up in a more prosperous and better educated China, to begin a collective rethinking about the West. My daughter, who loves western culture, must have used the word "why" dozens of times in our long online chat. Her frustration could be felt between the lines. Many who had romantic views about the West are very disappointed at the media's attempt to demonize China. We all know demonization feeds a counter reaction.
Many complain about China not allowing enough access to the media. In China, the view is that the Western media needs to make an effort to earn respect. It would be helpful to the credibility of the Western media if the issues they care and write about are of today's China, not of things that do not exist or of the long gone past.
In my one year in the UK, I have realized there is a lot more media coverage about China than when I was a student here in the mid-80s and most are quite close to the real life in China. China is also in an era of information explosion. I am sure that more and more people in the West will be able to cross the language and cultural barriers and find out more about the real China.
The world has waited for China to join it, now China has to have the patience to wait for the world to understand China.
(By Fu Ying, Chinese Ambassador to Britain Note: this article was published on Sunday Telegraph of April 13, 2008)