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The Right Way to Pressure Beijing

When the U.S. Congress recently passed a resolution calling on Beijing to end its repression of dissent in Tibet and open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, a Chinese spokesperson declared that the resolution had “seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.” Nor was this the first time the Chinese had expressed emotional distress at some political gesture. Everyone from the Icelandic singer Björk, who shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” at the end of a concert in Shanghai, to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who met with the Dalai Lama in Ottawa, has been accused of hurting the feelings of the Chinese. Indeed, the Chinese might be the only people who regard the rantings of CNN’s Jack Cafferty, who referred to the Chinese government as “goons and thugs,” as worth taking seriously. Nerves this sensitive bespeak either a severe case of adolescent angst or a revealing insight into national character, or both. It is hard to imagine Vladimir Putin or Robert Mugabe, or George W. Bush for that matter, confessing to having hurt feelings about anything, much less the kind of symbolic ephemera that seem to regularly rile the Chinese.

When the U.S. Congress recently passed a resolution calling on Beijing to end its repression of dissent in Tibet and open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, a Chinese spokesperson declared that the resolution had “seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.” Nor was this the first time the Chinese had expressed emotional distress at some political gesture. Everyone from the Icelandic singer Björk, who shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” at the end of a concert in Shanghai, to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who met with the Dalai Lama in Ottawa, has been accused of hurting the feelings of the Chinese. Indeed, the Chinese might be the only people who regard the rantings of CNN’s Jack Cafferty, who referred to the Chinese government as “goons and thugs,” as worth taking seriously. Nerves this sensitive bespeak either a severe case of adolescent angst or a revealing insight into national character, or both. It is hard to imagine Vladimir Putin or Robert Mugabe, or George W. Bush for that matter, confessing to having hurt feelings about anything, much less the kind of symbolic ephemera that seem to regularly rile the Chinese.

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