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United, We Stand
By Gong Yidong, China Features

2008-04-30

"Our motherland got hurt. We got hurt, too. We are prepared to swallow the hurt instead of leaving our motherland hurt, even in the slightest sense," Li Huan wrote in a poem on April 7, when the Olympic torch arrived in Paris.

Twelve days later, the 24-year-old Chinese student gave a passionate speech to a mass rally on the Republique Square in Paris, which won the acclaim of more than 10,000 Chinese participants.

"To make a caricature of China will lead to the widening gap between China and the West, as well as the gap between Chinese and Western people. Please, let us have sincere communication with each other.

"Many of us cried, as the image of China was greatly distorted by the Western media for such a long period on the Tibet issue," choked Li.

Like Li, thousands of Chinese living or studying overseas have shown their support for the Beijing Olympic Games and protested against "Tibet independence" through different forms.

Action Up

Li, who is pursuing a master's degree at Lille 2 University of Health and Law, France, felt urged to rebut what he saw as distorted French media reports about the Lhasa riots that broke out on March 14.

In the past month, exaggerated reports by the French media had spiraled into "undisguised slander and attacks against China," he said.

"We can no longer keep our mouths shut, especially after the 'Tibetan independence' separatists tried to seize the torch from disabled Chinese athlete Jin Jing during the Paris leg," he recalled.

Li wrote to France Television 2 (FR2), pointing out what he saw as inaccuracies in their reports. He was then invited to participate in a public debate on FR 2, where his intelligence and eloquence impressed the anchorman and audience. "The voice of China was heard at last," he said, full of excitement.

The turbulence on April 7 prompted Chinese students to organize a rally in support of the Beijing Olympic Games.

However, the organizers met a series of obstacles. They received phone calls threatening their lives, warning of assassinations or bomb threats. "None of us withdrew or shied away," Li said.

The rally turned out to be the largest of its kind involving the Chinese population in France, attracting tens of thousands of Chinese from provinces outside Paris.

Holding high banners saying "Go Olympics, No Politics," they sang a song titled My Chinese Heart. An elderly Chinese named Shi Yuling handed a note to Li, saying, "I came to Paris 20 years ago. I am determined to contribute enthusiastically to the Beijing Olympics. My love for our motherland is burning in my heart."

During his speech, Li noted that many French were fearful of China, which he thought was due to ignorance. "Please come to China to see for yourselves. You will find a true China that is beyond the media reports," he said.

Similar rallies or events in support of the worldwide Olympic torch relay have taken place in many countries, including the US, Germany, the UK, Canada, Australia, and India.

Harry Yang, 35, rode the bus for four hours from his home in Toronto to attend the rally in Ottawa on April 13. He said he was excited by the Chinese government's achievements in developing the country.

"Now things have totally changed in China. We have brains. We have eyes. Some people in the western countries ... I don't think they really care about human rights in China. They are just trying to give trouble to a potential competitor."

Dressed in uniform red T-shirts printed with the words "One China, One Family," the protestors also voiced their firm desire to oppose any attempt to break up China.

In San Francisco, Feng Shaoli, 78, got up at 4 a.m. on the day of the torch relay. "I've asked all my peers to go to the site and forge an impregnable fortress. We'll keep the 'Tibetan independence' separatists from destroying the glorious moment."

Concerted Struggle Online

In the struggle against "Tibet independence," the overseas Chinese Internet users have played a significant role.

A 21-year-old Chinese living in Canada, who identified himself as Qingyuan Huangjinshao, made a video clip named "Tibet was, is, and always will be, a part of China" to fight against the biased reports by the North American media of the Lhasa riots.

Drawing on historical pictures or data dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1370), the video outlined the evidence that Tibet is an inseparable part of China.

He uploaded the seven-minute clip on Youtube, the most popular video website globally. When he got up the next morning, he was astonished to find more than 500 mails in his e-mail box. In three days, the clip had attracted more than 1.2 million viewers. "I was so touched. Wherever we go, the blood within our body is Chinese."

Another anonymous overseas Chinese made a short documentary -- Riot in Tibet: True face of western media.

"During the riot in Tibet, all Western media showed their 'great excitement,' reporting the so-called 'truth.' Now we'll show how pictures are modified, misjudged purposely by Western media to slander China," said the author.

The documentary listed allegedly fabricated reports of leading Western media. For instance, a picture carried by CNN which cut off the scene of rioters attacking Chinese military vehicles.

Soon after, Chinese netizen Rao Jin established www.anti-cnn.com, a website dedicated to exposing lies and distortions in the Western media. It became a platform of discussion for overseas Chinese.

The website receives Western media reports from readers. Once verified, the materials are uploaded. Meanwhile, all the events or peaceful rallies during the Olympic torch relay were put online. To date, the website has attracted than 100,000 registered users, who have pasted more than 300,000 articles or comments.

Observers said the online public opinion is characterized by maturity. Rao said on the homepage, "We are not against the Western media, but against the lies and fabricated stories in the media. We are not against the Western people, but against the prejudice from the Western society."

Cao Jingxing, a commentator of Phoenix TV in Hong Kong, appraised the online actions.

"Traditionally, it was the Chinese government or state-run media that gave the official voice, but this time was different. The grassroots got their voices heard," he said.

"More importantly, it is by no means a quick release of angry sentiment. Instead, these expressions are very rational based on evidence and facts," Cao said.

For the overseas Chinese, the developments have kept them closer with each other and China. "In the freezing spring, my heart thumps with the pace of China. In the bone-chilling wind, my heart stays together with China, with pride and determination," said Li Huan.

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