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Professors slam China’s news image: Flushing panel speakers pan Western coverage of Olympics

Chinese educators, writers and community leaders came together in Flushing Tuesday afternoon to decry the Western media coverage of the Tibetan uprising and the controversy surrounding China as it gets set to host the Olympic Games this summer.

Violent protests in China-occupied Tibet in recent months have cast a negative spotlight on the world power and led outspoken leaders of several other countries, such as France and Germany, to announce plans to boycott the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The controversy has also has interrupted the traditional Olympic torch relay in several countries as supporters of an independent Tibet have repeatedly set their sights on extinguishing the iconic flame in protest against the Olympics' host country.

But Chinese-Americans like York College Professor Che-Taso Huang said Western media outlets have covered recent events, such as the violent, bloody protests in Lhasa, Tibet in March, through a "biased and distorted" lens.

"CNN and other media have closed their eyes to the passionate support of the Olympics by Chinese people around the world while tripping over each other in their enthusiasm to shed light on all the attempts to disrupt the Olympic torch relay," Huang said.

At a news conference hosted by the Council of Chinese Americans Association at Flushing's Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, more than a half dozen Chinese Americans gave detailed speeches in opposition to both the media and the Tibetan cause.

Tibet has been occupied by China since 1950, when the People's Liberation Army invaded the territory, driving many of its inhabitants into exile in neighboring India and Nepal.

Pro-Tibetan independence supporters claim the country declared its independence from China in 1913 and therefore is a separate country under occupation. The secession was never recognized by China.

The dispute between the two sides has drawn international attention, particularly after several Tibetan monks were killed in a clash with Chinese police March 14.

"The pro-Tibetan people grabbed this opportunity as an opportunity of a lifetime to push their agenda," said Asian American Times Columnist Jinglun Zhao. "The riots in Lhasa and elsewhere are not an accident."

New York University Professor James Hsiung said while he equates the robbery, looting, arson and violence that occurred in Lhasa with "terrorism," the Chinese government deserves some of the blame for locking out foreign journalists after the Tibetan riots.

"The outside press had to rely on reports they got from Tibetans in India. The objectivity of their reporting was only as good as their sources, which were biased," Hsiung said. "The Chinese government should open Tibet to the foreign press... then they will be able to see the truth of what is happening."

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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