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Dalai tailors 'New Year messages'
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Editor's note: Li Xiguang, executive dean of Tsinghua University School of Journalism and Communication, and Liu Kang, director of the Program in Chinese Media and Communication at Duke University, shared their views on the Dalai Lama's "New Year messages" with some reporters. The following are some excerpts.

Q: The Dalai Lama's "New Year messages" were released separately in Tibetan, English and Chinese. Professor Li, what, if any, subtle differences have you noted between the three versions?

Li: My biggest impression after reading them is that the Dalai Lama is a master of language. The Dalai Lama knows who he is talking to. He knows deeply that many people in the West sympathize with, or support, "Tibetan independence".

That's why in the Tibetan version, as well as in its English translation, the Dalai Lama talked out "Tibet against the Chinese authorities", a binary oppositional paradigm that clearly implies Tibet is an independent country.

And since the "Tibet independence" push has no audience in Tibetan regions and the rest of the Chinese mainland, and that many people and cadres of Tibetan ethnicity and other nationalities feel an aversion to inner-Party corruption, the Dalai Lama, in his Chinese version of the "New Year messages", talked about "the Tibetan people against the Communist Party of China's Tibet policies", a binary oppositional paradigm that equates with opposition to the CPC and the quest for "Tibet independence".

The Dalai Lama has long communicated his core messages through such paradigms as "Tibet against China", "Tibet against Chinese power" and "the Tibetan people against Chinese suppression". This has had a certain effect in the global society.

Q: Professor Liu, do you think the Dalai Lama has achieved his propaganda goal of "Tibet independence" through the use of the term "China" in his publicity campaigns?

Liu: The Dalai Lama is a master in political communication and global PR who knows well how to use communication and discourse to achieve his political ends. Most of his opinions published on Chinese websites and directed toward the Chinese public use such expressions as "the Han and Tibetan nationalities" and "the global society should help the Han and Tibetan nationalities establish mutual trust and communication".

After the Wenchuan earthquake and just as the Beijing Olympics was about the start, the global media began to play down the Dalai Lama's words and actions. That's when he started a round of PR campaigns, lobbying throughout the US and Europe.

In a public speech in California on July 16, 2008, the Dalai Lama said: "Now is a critical moment when the Han and Tibetan nationalities must establish friendship. In other words, where the Han and Tibetan nationalities reside, we shall establish a group to facilitate communication and enhance true understanding."

But on his English website and in the context of other Western languages, the Dalai Lama has repeatedly stressed opposition between China and Tibet, and is unambiguous in using Western discourse to express his own views - all within the binary paradigm of China against Tibet.

In effect, the Dalai Lama's viewpoints on Tibet have become such an important part of the Western media's Tibet discourse that his views are the de facto views of the Western media.

(China Daily March 2, 2009)

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