Thousands of Chinese students and expatriates demonstrated on April 19 in Paris' Place de la Republique, to support the upcoming Beijing Olympics and denounce sections of the French media for their distorted reports on the March 14 Lhasa riots.
Watch video of Li Huan who gave speech at Paris rally
Li Huan, a Chinese student, delivered a long and powerful speech in fluent French at the rally. The speech, delivered in mellow and passionate tones, combined philosophical wisdom with logical thinking, and was cheered long and loud by the Chinese students and expatriates.
It also amazed and won the admiration of the French people. The speaker, from Xi'an, capital of China's Shaanxi Province, is a post-graduate student in the University of Lille II. He had previously hotly debated Chinese issues with a French reporter on local TV. Li's fluent French and profound knowledge won him respect and restored the dignity of the Chinese people. His speech has had a sensational effect among Chinese students in France.
Li Huan became an instant star after making the speech with many Chinese and French people rushing to take his picture.
The speech was written in French by Li Huan himself. Li said he had recently spent most of his spare time reading material related to Tibet and had become something of an expert in the field. He said he was motivated by love of China and unwillingness to see his motherland misrepresented.
Ladies and Gentlemen, French and Chinese friends,
I would like first of all to thank the people of Paris and the prefecture of Paris, for having provided the opportunity to hold this meeting and for making this space available. This is a very special occasion, one of the largest assemblies of Chinese people ever to take place in France, indeed in Europe.
I would like to say a few words on behalf of the students who have traveled hundreds of kilometers by bus, train or car to be here. And I would like to pass on the greeting of many others who although they could not be here today, share our attachment to China, to France, to the French people, and to Franco-Chinese friendship.
During the recent campaign of disinformation and demonization of China we students have felt very upset; our feelings have been hurt, but we do not blame you, the French people, because the responsibility lies not with you but with certain irresponsible media organizations and professional agitators.
Like all professions, journalism has professional ethics that ought to be respected. Journalism requires impartiality, objectivity, checking and verification of information, moderation in commentary. Calumny, unproved accusations and distortion of the facts should never be permitted.
But during the recent events certain journalists have departed from their proper role, which ought to be to inform, and have turned into vigilantes possessed of an innate truth, a truth, furthermore, of a delusional simplicity. They have recounted a fable of a gentle victim and a merciless bully; the roles, moreover, were assigned at the outset.
Having assigned these roles a priori they then tried by any and all means to justify their depiction of events. Selectively citing historical facts, they portrayed what was part of the Chinese revolution as an invasion of an integral part of China, making no mention of the obscure theocracy that oppressed 95% of the Tibetan population. They speak about peaceful demonstrations by Tibetan monks, they confuse Nepalese police with Chinese police, pass off 20 year old images as today's, publish information without any pretence at verification, exaggerate death tolls, rely on unreliable witness reports etc.
The testimony of foreign tourists including video footage shot by them showing violence inflicted on innocent people, of innocent passers-by lynched by young rioters, was, apart from a few still pictures, completely ignored. Even worse, certain irresponsible media organizations invented and imposed on us the hypothesis of a bloody repression carried out by the authorities, without, of course, supplying any impartial or credible evidence.
Very few Chinese were interviewed by the press, and the few that appeared were usually put in the position of a defendant outnumbered and surrounded by hostile magistrates.
By all means criticize the Chinese government for blocking and controlling information but not by inventing facts.
The way the media have treated news of the Tibet riots amounts to
- Media aggression
- Hype and ideological trickery
- An attempt to impose hegemony of discourse
- A campaign of disinformation
- A gross calumny
The primary victims are the fraternal and compassionate French people, who put their trust in the media, but have unfortunately been manipulated.
A news system that had been a model for us, for the future of China is no longer that. Public opinion is not an object be manipulated, neither in China nor elsewhere. What we have witnessed is nothing more or less than a form of censorship operating within the system of a free press.
And the intellectual laziness of certain politicians, the elite of France, has astonished us.
Human rights has become for some people, I mention in particular Mr. Robert Menard, a sort of crusade and the excuse for all sorts irresponsible agitation undertaken for political ends.
Why was he nowhere to be found during the repeated torture of the inmates of Guantanamo, or when Iraqi prisoners were being subjected to outrages by American soldiers? Isn't this a sort of selective blindness?
UNESCO has called a halt to its support for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and has explained in a declaration that RSF had repeatedly shown a lack of objectivity in dealing with certain countries.
Why might that be?
Let us look at information readily available on the Internet, and furthermore acknowledged and admitted to by our Robert, that RSF is financed by organizations close to the CIA. What does the CIA do? It subverts states hostile to United States' hegemony, or simply blackens their image to further the interests of the USA.
Robert Menard, you are a nothing more than a lackey of the American neo-conservatives; tell your masters the world belongs to those who value love and peace, and will never belong to the American neoconservative promoters of hatred and war.
We, Chinese students overseas, we feel very upset, our feelings have been hurt, but we do not blame the French people. We are the bridge of information and exchange between two very different worlds who find ourselves the first victims of this cultural, ideological, and above all political conflict.
The Chinese in China place great worth on the views of their students in foreign lands about what is happening abroad. China's perception of foreigners depends largely on the sentiments of this expatriate community.
In the face of the western's media's campaign of invention and disinformation, many among our student fraternity have entered the internet fray to proclaim the truth. It is evident to us all that the French are victim to profound misconceptions about China, fed by certain among their domestic media.
The failure of these well-intentioned efforts pains us, the more so as the participants find themselves mocked and ridiculed. They, of all Chinese the most westernized, are accused of being agents of Peking – 'Red Communist Guards'.
Under the clamor to boycott the Olympics, boycott China, free Tibet, a mistrust and resentment of the Chinese towards the West is growing.
The Chinese Government is far from perfect, but it is as absurd to call it the best in the world as to call it the worst. Our generation, the 20 to 30 year olds, have benefited since childhood from China's improvements in standard of living and individual liberty.
We struggle to understand why now, when things are moving in the right direction, suddenly there are so many in foreign lands eager to save us from 'the greatest dictatorship in the world'. Where were you before?
We, the most westernized of the Chinese, have faith in our future. Our country still has far to travel but we, the Chinese, are ready for the journey.
China has its own culture, its own history, its own spirit. Sociology is not an exact science like mathematics – there are far too many variables to arrive at any 'universal model' of absolutes in this sphere.
China is evolving and the people of China are evolving. The Communist Party too is evolving. Old school conservatives are moving on, and being replaced by a younger generation that is much more open and pragmatic. Allow us a little time, and leave the development of China in our hands, in the hands of the young Chinese in foreign lands who will bring back from their travels the best of the West's systems and structures to China.
Go yourselves to China to see the whole story – a China that is not shown to you by so much of the Western media. Go to Tibet and look with your own eyes on the 'cultural genocide', if you can find it. See for yourselves if the Tibetan language is facing extinction. Find out for yourselves whether the monks are free to practice their religion, whether the Tibetans do not fare better than under the Theocracy of the Dalai Lama - talk to older Tibetans about that unforgettable 'Buddhist paradise'.
We must have more direct communication and a better mutual understanding, and we are ready to make our contribution.
The Olympic Games have the support of we students, and they have the support of this people that makes up one fifth of humanity.
To whom do the Olympics truly belong?
To you, to me, to us, to all of us, to all the peoples of the world. They are not a political plaything. Leave them alone, you politicians and your lackeys, and you anti-Chinese movements. Leave them alone, they belong to us. Stop trying to wreck these Games.
China as host country wants to offer the finest of gifts to the world. Millions of Chinese have worked for years to this end. With open arms they have prepared a welcome for the whole of the world.
As the flame travels the world the simple and heartfelt message it carries is this: Come. The people of China have prepared for you a celebration for all of humanity.
When certain media gloat over the blow to China's esteem after the undignified passage through Paris of that torch of peace and friendship between peoples, they are in a sense right. But the blow was not to China, but to the people of China, and to the people of France, and to all those who love the Olympic Games.
Many fear China, and this fear is born of ignorance. All the more reason, then, for direct exchanges through we who represent this solid and faithful bridge of friendship.
We consider that China's culture is one of peace. Our history shows that we have been repeatedly subject to aggression, invaded by peoples who almost invariably themselves became assimilated into China.
I think that this is the core of the strength of a culture that has endured through five thousand years. Intimidating? Perhaps, but a culture is an evolving entity. Whenever you use your chopsticks in a Chinese restaurant, or in any oriental restaurant, the culture of China is opening itself to you.
The demonization of China will estrange the Chinese from the West and place distance between peoples.
Please, let us speak to each other!
We have a sincere message to offer to you: Between our countries, between our peoples, we, the Chinese students, want no part in a conflict that is POINTLESS, AND THAT SERVES NO PURPOSE!
Possessing elements of both cultures, we wish to be a bridge, a channel of communication between two peoples. We will speak to you of the feelings and hopes of the people of China, and we will take to China the goodwill of people of France. Trust me, this bridge will be a solid structure, now more than ever, now when it is needed more than ever, in a situation as critical as the present.
Hear me, my French friends, I welcome you to my home – yes, even those who wish only to create strife in Beijing. We will offer the same warm welcome to you all.
To Beijing then, my good friends… Thank you! Thank you sincerely!
(China.org.cn translated by John Sexton & David Ferguson April 21, 2008)