The World Food Program (WFP) has issues a press release announcing an alliance with China. That itself would not motivate post on the topic, but it was the second paragraph that knocked me on my heels:
"Having lifted 300 million of its own people out of poverty in less than a generation - surely one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century - China has now pledged to commit more of its considerable resources to helping us help those in desperate need elsewhere," James Morris, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, said in Beijing."
Elevating 300 million people out of poverty is a stupendous and positive achievement. That's a number almost as large as the US population and represents one in every four citizens of this country of 1.4 billion people.
The more I know about China, the less I understand about China. It is simultaneously, a modern, emerging and feudal place. While outsiders get snapshots and draw conclusions, we often do not understand the complexity of a situation. We see Tianemen, Tibet and jailed bloggers and we become horrified or at least indignant and rightfully so. These are ugly snapshots, but stack them up and they do not reveal even a fraction of the overall picture.
I tend to feel people should form the country they want under the government they want and so I side with Tibet. I greatly admire the Dalai Lama and so I sympathize with a free Tibet. I really know nothing about China's historic claim or why the world turned it's back 50 years ago. I suspect that ignorance is shared by several hundred million Chinese.
From my view, the wart on China's image is not China. It is one wart. I approve of Tibet's proponents showing non violent, dissent to draw attention and sympathy to their cause. But to deprive China of this moment of greatness, when the athlete of the world compete in a most peaceful of venues in a place that struggles with labyrinthine issues of rapid emergence to me would be a shame.
At this time and in this world, it seems to me that China is to be commended for allowing 300 million people to put food on their plates, even by those who loathe their behavior in Tibet. I don't for sure, but if I understand the teaching of the Dalai Lama, I think he would agree.
[NOTE: Several hours after posting this, my frind Isaac Mao in China tweeted me to say that this news has not yet been released in China. Very puzzling.]