Sunday, April 13, 2008

Freedom unequally enjoyed isn't freedom: China's flawed mandate from heaven

April 13, 2008

An aside on the term "brainwashing"
From: Flora Sapio

The term "Braiwashing" was coined in Semptember 1950 by Edward Hunter, a
CIAofficer who worked under cover as a journalist. Hunter was a key
figure in making this term popular in the West. And he was also involved
in Project MKULTRA - a CIA's attempt to develop mind control techniques.

Later, Robert J. Lifton used "brainwashing" to refer to ***rudimental***
mind control techniques used by the Chinese on American POWs in the Korean
War. Basically this was the process of "thought reform"/coercive
persuasion he outlines in "The Psychology of Totalism".

A central feature of coercive persuasion was obtaining a confession. To this
aim, techniques producing physical and psychological stress were used. When we
are subjected to prolonged and acute stress for long periods of time, we need
to find some ways to keep our equilibrium. This triggers a psychological
response. We reframe the perception of our Selves, and of our surroundings.
Eventually, we may more or less willingly yield to the requests our
interrogators pose on us. We may end up embracing their views of the world.
Or - to put it more simply - we may confess to whatever we are asked to.

The term - which is a translation of the Chinese xinao 洗脑 - was extremely
popular - I believe - during the Cold War. I think this term is still used in
contexts that are politicized....and of course in China-bashing.

In scholarly and non-political contexts, "brainwashing" has been
replaced by the more neutral "mind control".

Mind control was a concept developed by psychologist Steven Hassan.
Hassan, who was a former member of Moon's Unification Church, found that
cultic groups had independently elaborated psychological manipulation
techniques. These techniques are considerably more sophisticated and more
effective that those the Red Army used on POWs.

Hassan has signicantly expanded the work of Lifton, and his criteria,
that are based on Lifton's Eight Criteria for Thought Reform, are used to
identify cults that practice mind control, and to rescue their victims.

Flora Sapio
University of Wuerzburg


* John Marks. _The Search For The Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind
Control, The Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences_, Norton 1979.
Available online at

* Robert J. Lifton. _Thought reform and the psychology of totalism. A
study of "brainwashing" in China_. Norton, 1961. Several later editions,
Chapel Hill, NC:University of North Carolina Press, 1989.

* Steven Hassan. _Combatting Cult Mind Control_, Rochester, VT: Park
Street Press, 1988. (a later edition also issued)
ISBN 0892812435 : 9780892812431

* MKULTRA documents declassified under the FOIA

April 13, 2008

On Tibet Controversy, Yuan Dynasty, and thinking about Chinese history
From: Enze Han

It is a response to people who made claims about the nature of the Yuan
Dynasty whether it is not Chinese or Monglian. And I think the biggest flaw
in such an argument is its application of western/modern concept of
nation-state to pre-modern China. First is the question of who is Chinese
and what is China? In fact, the word China was invented by the west to refer
to such a political entity in the far east, it was never a self-claim. To
the traditional dynasties, or any political entities that exited in the
territory what we call China today, the most important concept is the
mandate of heaven, as long as someone gets that claim, no matter what kind
of people they are (Turkic, Mongol, Manchu, Jurchen, Khitan) they can all be
considered as Chinese and get the legitimate claim over the land it ruled
(Tian Xia). Thus, ever since the north-south dynasties (Nan Bei Chao), most
northern dynasties were founded by nomadic people from the great Mongolian
grassland (some were Turkic, some were Mongol), but then again they all
claim of legitimacy of rule on the basis of the concept of mandate of
heaven, and thus they can call be called Chinese. The great Tang dynasty was
in way Turkic. The same concept applies later to Liao, set up by Khitan, and
then Jin by Jurchen. Although it is more controversial for the great Mongol
empire that extended all the way to central asia and behind, it is
legitimate to say the Yuan dynasty set up by Kublai khan was legitimately
Chinese, as he claimed to have got that mandate of heaven when he set up the
Yuan dynasty. When the Ming came Zhu Yuanzhang also made such a comment on
the legitimacy of the Yuan Dynasty. A good book I think can illuminate some
of this thinking is L'Empire des Steppes by René Grousset.

What I have been trying to emphasize here is that we should totally start to
rethink and reconstruct the concept of China and Chinese. It is in fact, one
can argue the concept of China/Chinese is in a way civic, at least before
the era of nation-state, which means we should look at China based on the
territory rather than the people, and I think this conceptualization is the
most consistent with traditional Chinese thinking about the state.

And indeed today in China, the word Chinese is Zhong Guo Ren (that is Middle
Kingdom People), which includes more than just the Han Chinese. Thus if you
talk to an ethnic minority people in China, they would call specifically the
language, what people in the west call Chinese, as Han Hua (that is Han's
language). And this is a big and very important distinction. It tells us
that to many ethnic minority people that the concept of China is different
from what most people in the west thinks. I think Justin Rudelson's book
Oasis Identity makes such a differentiation in his study on Xinjiang.

Finally, its a response to Prof. Don Baker on Taiwan. Yes it is true that
the PRC never controlled Taiwan, but another way to think about it is that
the PRC is only a regime controlled by a political party and the concept of
China is bigger than that. Analogy is to look at various French republics,
constitutions constantly rewritten, but that does not mean one specific
republic represent the whole concept of France.

Thank you for reading.

Enze Han
Ph.D Candidate
Department of Political Science
George Washington University

Tibet and China -- "cultural genocide" terminology
From: Chris Haskett

In response to Prof. Pollard:

The term genocide was first applied to the Tibet situation in 1960 by the
International Commission of Jurists--though 'cultural' was not a concern so
much as human deaths.

Much of the art and artifacts "destroyed" in the Cultural Revolution, and
after, has turned up on international art markets after being warehoused for
some time.

Chris Haskett
PhD Cand., LCA, UW-Madison

Tibet and China issues - another perspective
From: Naomi Standen

Srinivasan Ramani raises an important question: how interpretations of Tibet
are affected by the differing views of the commentators about the political
role of religion.

Religion also plays a significant role in Xinjiang, where (in my limited
understanding) there has been as much activism and more violence than in Tibet
over similar or related issues (suppression of culture, in-migration, external
exploitation of natural resources, etc), and where it would be possible to have
similar arguments about the historicity of the PRC's claims to the region and
the character and intent of PRC policies towards the Uyghurs and the region.
But riots and violent repression in Xinjiang have not been as widely reported
in the Rich North, at least, and attract less sympathy among the general public
there. Partly the lack of reporting is due to a more effective exclusion of
foreign media from Xinjiang, but that in itself is assisted not only by
Xinjiang's even greater remoteness but also by relative lack of interest among
those foreign reporters. Not for Xinjiang do we get stories about "my ten days
of trying to get past the media lockdown" as we had recently about Tibet in the

It seems reasonable to suggest that attitudes towards religion and its role in
a modern state or community play an important part in the way Xinjiang issues
are reported and framed outside the PRC. Although the Xinjiang activism long
predates the Twin Towers, one cannot help wondering if those in the West (and I
use the word deliberately here, precisely for its connotations) would hear more
about it if the people involved were not Muslims. Since the Twin Towers, the
visual and other similarities and various connections of Xinjiang Uyghurs to
Muslims in neighbouring Central Asian countries (which are even less well
understood in Europe and the rich anglophone world) have not exactly helped to
bring a rush of outside support to the Uyghur cause, and without that the
rich-world media is much less likely to pay attention to whatever might be
going on in a region that therefore remains a remote place of which we know
little. How likely is it that the Uyghurs will find their Richard Gere or
Joanna Lumley to bring their grievances to the attention of the influential
outside world? What is it about Tibet (images of Shangri-la aside) that makes
it so much more appealing to the "western" public?

It would be interesting to hear about how both Tibet and Xinjiang are being
reported outside the rich world. And, to return to Srinivasan Ramani's point,
it would be particularly interesting to hear from any H-Asia members who may be
able to comment on how the reports look in countries that are not liberal

Naomi Standen
Dr. Naomi Standen | Historical Studies, Armstrong Building
Senior Lecturer in Chinese History| Newcastle University, NE1 7RU, UK
Tel: +44 191 222 6490 |Fax: +44 191 222 6484

April 13, 2008

Thinking about terminology - "cultural genocide" - response to Dr. Yi Li
From: Vincent K Pollard

Dear Colleagues,

Doesn't the extensive physical destruction of Tibetan art and artifacts
in the T.A.R. and elsewhere in Tibetan China during 1966-1976 qualify as
cultural genocide?

Vincent K Pollard
Ed. note: Trying to look at this from another perspective--how would one
distinguish the effects of the cultural revolution upon Tibetan areas in
China from the effects elsewhere. I would risk asking is the "cultural
genocide" term employed toward the dominant power in China whereas the
effects of 1966-76 inside China might be termed 'cultural suicide'?

April 13, 2008

Concerning Tibet, "Western Media", and "Brainwashing"
* **********************************************************************
From: Andrew Field

First, a minor correction concerning my last message: In mentioning
an internal discussion among the editors, I mistakenly referred to the
message containing the link to Anne Kent's essay rather than a
response to this message by another poster, which was the source of
the discussion. I still hold by the view that this has been a very
productive and worthwhile discussion overall, and that we should
encourage such discussions in the future, while at the same time being
careful (as per our rules) not to post links to sources that are too
overtly political or polemical in nature (not always an easy task to
differentiate, but usually quite obvious), but I agree with the other
editors that Dr. Kent's article seemed scholarly enough, even if
somewhat flawed and biased, to merit a link on our forum.

Second, I believe that in discussing the coverage of Tibet by the
"Western media", some people (not necessarily part of our discussion
group) are making huge and unwarranted generalizations, and making it
sound as if there is one overarching agenda amongst all news media
agencies in "the West" as opposed to what I perceive to be a concerted
and genuine effort by foreign news media agencies to understand what
has been happening in Tibet and other parts of China in recent
weeks--an extremely difficult task given the limitations imposed by
the PRC government on coverage of these events.

Third, as for the term "brainwashing," I concur with Frank Conlon that
I have not seen this term appear in any posts relating to this current
set of discussion threads on our e-forum. I do recall the term being
mentioned a while ago on another e-forum to which I subscribe.
According to that poster: "The term "Brainwashing" is also derived
from Chinese (Ï´ÄÔ xinao, wash the brain), and was first translated into
English by a journalist to describe the experience of American
soldiers held in Chinese re-education
camps during the Korean war." In the interest of privacy I have
withheld the name of the poster and he did not supply any references
for this claim, but it is an intriguing one nonetheless. I wonder if
anybody else can back up this claim, and I wonder if this has anything
to do with the tendency to apply the term to the PRC government.

Regarding the above, I just did a search of my own gmail database,
where I have archived all of the H-ASIA posts as well as posts from
another forum that have included numerous articles on the recent
events in Tibet, and the only case in which I found the term
"brainwashing" (or -wash, -washed) was in the following article in the
March 15 2008 online edition of the Washington Post:

"Westerners think they know all about China, telling us that this, that and
the other is bad," wrote one [Chinese] blogger, who listed historical reasons
justifying Tibet's inclusion as part of China.
"Most foreigners have been brainwashed as far as this issue is concerned,"
assented another user.


It appears from this cursory survey that the "Western media" is not
roundly using this term to refer to people in China, but perhaps more
the other way round. In conducting a similar search on the Google
News database, I found this quote from an April 8 2008 article in the
Los Angeles Times, referring to the PRC government's "patriotic
eduction" campaign in Tibet: "Patriotic education is a euphemism for
brainwashing," said Chukora Tsering Agloe, a researcher at the Tibetan
Center for Human Rights and Democracy."


In this case, the term appears to be not a judgment on the part of the
reporter (though it may implicitly be so), but rather that of a
Tibetan in exile. On that note, the voice of Tibetans in our
discussion is conspicuously absent, and I wonder if there are any
Tibetan people in our H-ASIA network and if so, why they are
withholding from making comments on this issue.

Andrew Field
co-editor, H-ASIA

April 13, 2008

Tibet and China - and Taiwan
From: Donald Baker

Dr. Li Yi in his recent post wrote that :

> Taiwan, Xinjang, and Tibet are a part of China now, but they may get
> independence later. Outer Mongolia already got independence.

I hate to point out the obvious, but Taiwan has never been under the
control of the government of the People's Republic of China. Though
Taiwan and the PRC are recognized by most nations around the world as
belonging to "one China," the fact is that Taiwan has been governed apart
from the government of mainland China since 1949. Taiwan's situation
today cannot be compared to the situation of Tibet or Xinjiang. There are
people in Tibet and Xinjiang (whether they are a majority or a minority
is not germane to the point I am making here) who would be happy if their
regions "belonged" to China the same way Taiwan does. And there are
plenty of people in Taiwan who would be very unhappy if Taiwan were in
the same situation vis-a-vis the government in Beijing that Tibet and
Xinjiang are.

Don Baker
University of British Columbia

April 13, 2008

Further observations on the Tibet and China issue
From: Vincent K Pollard

Dear Colleagues,

Another analogy could be clarified. "Cultural genocide" is a shorthand
historiographical summary phrase utilized for a variety of purposes in
this discussion of Tibet, Chinese history, and human rights, nationalism,
sovereignty and other closely related isssues.

In the current H-ASIA discussion, occasionally comparisons are made with
Euro-American imperialism and imperial state-building in the Americas.
With that in mind, colleagues who assert -- or challenge -- the
appropriateness of "cultural genocide" as a summary of the PRC's impact
on Greater Tibet since 1950 might indicate how appropriately "cultural
genocide" summarizes what was done, for example, to Native American
nations in what today is the United States (including Hawai'i) or Canada.

(The following is a point of basic information that may not be obvious:
While not all historians of the United States use the phrase "cultural
genocide" to characterize the destruction of Native American cultures by
Euro-American invaders, some American historians certainly use the
phrase. Chinese critics of American history and politics are not the first
to do so.)

This degree of greater comparative historical clarity is possible.
Striving for it will make our discussion even more educational.

Vincent K Pollard

April 12, 2008

Mongolian views of Yuan dynasty as Mongolian
From: Vincent Pollard :

Dear Colleagues,

In this context of the conversation about Tibet and China (and others,)
isn't invocation of the Yuan Dynasty (1279 - 1368) also problematic?

According to a member of Mongolia's foreign service (on academic leave)
who spoke here in 2007, that era was not a Chinese Dynasty.

The historiographical nuances continue to unfold!

Vincent K Pollard

Si aequa non est, ne libertas quidem est
(Freedom unequally enjoyed isn't freedom)
-- Marcus Tullius Cicero, DE RE PUBLICA, Liber I, xxxi.

No comments: