It is learnt that the Chinese leadership is facing difficulty in controlling the Neo Red Guards, who have let loose an anti-foreigners and anti-Buddhists campaign to protest against foreign support to the freedom struggle of the Tibetans and against the attacks on the Olympic Flame during its recent passage through London and Paris.
2. Whereas the protests in China are till now directed only against the French, the protests by the overseas Chinese are directed against the authorities of the UK, France and the US and the media of those countries. It is learnt that the protests inside China as well as abroad are being sponsored and directed by the Ministry of Public Security, which is China’s internal intelligence and security agency. Mr.Meng Jianzhu, the Minister for Public Security , is viewed by many as the head of the new group of Neo Red Guards, which is increasingly dictating the Tibet policy after the uprising began in Lhasa on March 10,2008, and from there spread to other Tibetan-inhabited areas of Tibet, Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan.
3.There have been demonstrations against the outlets of Carrefour, the French super-market chain, in Beijing and other Chinese cities. A campaign for an economic boycott of France and French products has also been launched by the Neo Red Guards.
4.Hundreds of overseas Chinese studying or working in the UK, France and the US have been mobilised to protest against the recent incidents in London and Paris during the passage of the Olympic Flame and against the attempts to organise similar incidents in San Francisco, which were, however, thwarted by the local authorities. The orchestrated Chinese anger against the Western media has been particularly concentrated against the CNN, which has been accused of anti-Beijing bias in its coverage.
5. According to reliable sources, the Chinese leadership is worried that if these protests continue, it may foul the atmosphere in the months leading up to the Beijing Olympics of August,2008. The Chinese leadership’s dream of projecting the Games as a spectacular exercise in international harmony has been badly damaged. Its appeals for cooling the anti-foreigner campaign have had no effect so far. The Neo Red Guards are reportedly of the view that countering what they see as an international conspiracy to bring about a splitting-up of Tibet and Xinjiang from China is more important than holding the Olympics in harmony. They are, therefore, not worried about the likely adverse impact of their campaign on the Olympics.
6. As part of its Patriotic Re-education campaign, the Ministry of Public Security has ordered all Buddhist monasteries in the Tibetan-inhabited areas to fly the Chinese national flag side by side with their religious flag. The monks have been resisting this order. The number of arrests so far is estimated to be more than two thousand. These figures include those arrested for their suspected participation in the violent incidents after March 10, those detained as a preventive measure and those arrested for refusing to fly the Chinese national flag.
7. The orders issued by the Ministry of Public Security to fly the Chinese national flag do not apply to the places of worship of the Muslims in the Xinjiang province.
(The writer, Mr B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )