Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ferguson, China, Satire, and Reality

Summarizing recent events in Ferguson, U.S., David Carr in The New York Times wrote:
Ferguson, Missouri, was just a place — a working-class suburb of St. Louis — before an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by the police, before protests and looting erupted, before local forces responded with armored vehicles, tear gas and rubber bullets, and Ferguson became #Ferguson.
Often relishing an opportunity to opine on America's high profile struggles, China's state media has been noticeably quiet on the matter. Josh Chin in The Wall Street Journal identified some of the roots for the most likely explanation:
Although the politics and level of violence involved are different, there are plenty of similarities between Ferguson and Xinjiang [a region in northwestern China]. As alleged in the case of Mr. Brown, [Muslim] Uighur advocates accuse Chinese security forces of using deadly force against civilians who present no immediate threat. In both places, authorities have confronted lingering anger over racial discrimination with military-grade weaponry. And in Xinjiang, as in Ferguson, reporters have been detained while trying to put together an independent picture of events.
China's relative silence, though, has not stopped others from putting words in China's mouth and further calling attention to conditions in both China and the U.S. For example, in the satirical piece in Vox "How we'd cover Ferguson if it happened in another country" Max Fisher imagined:
"The only lasting solution is reconciliation among American communities and stronger Missouri security forces," Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech from his vacation home in Hainan. "However, we can and should support moderate forces who can bring stability to America. So we will continue to pursue a broader strategy that empowers Americans to confront this crisis."

Xi's comments were widely taken as an indication that China would begin arming moderate factions in Missouri, in the hopes of overpowering rogue regime forces and preventing extremism from taking root. . . .

A Chinese Embassy official here declined to comment but urged all parties to exhibit restraint and respect for the rule of law.
After reading Fisher's piece, it could be easy to assume Natasha Culzac's article in The Independent is also a work of satire:
As anger erupted again on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a human rights team from Amnesty International worked on the ground in the US for the first time ever. . . .

Amnesty International, said it would be observing police and protester activity and gathering testimonies . . .
But it is not. And like China's silence and possible U.S. responses to similar events elsewhere, Amnesty International's actions provide yet another perspective on a situation which is far more complicated than people simply needing to "settle down".

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