“Watching the build up to the Olympics has been, for me, like watching the world’s biggest, slowest traffic accident. For a while now its been pretty obvious that a lot of contentious issues about China were going to come to the front as we approach August 8th, but the problem is that there are two completely separate parallel worlds on these issues: the Chinese one, and the rest of us.” (Dave on Mutantpalm).
The PR war is also a war of realities. Most Chinese are baffled by the protests for a Free Tibet or Tibetan Independence because they have been taught that Tibet has been a part of China for more than 700 years (PRC official White Paper, 1992). On the other side, Westerns have been baffled with the emotional and nationalist Chinese response you see here.
We are also witnessing two different approaches to PR.
China is a relatively closed system and does not seem to understand or accept social networking and social media. China is a good example of executing old way communication: one way and top-down.
The Tibetan organizations are relatively open systems which are listening and responding to their supporters or peers. They are engaged in a “two-way communications model”. You can argue that their survival and growth depend on the interaction with their supporters.The Tibetan organizations are grass root organizations, and the new way of communicating fits their purpose, agenda, and organization.
We do see blogs in China, but we do not see that many bloggers on each side that participate in a conversation. Since the Chinese government monitors the Chinese netizens, I would assume that they are nervous about engaging in these kinds of conversations. A few weeks ago, Hu Jia was sentenced 31/2 year in jail because of interviews he gave to foreign media and entries he had posted on a Chinese language U.S. based Website.
Right now, the Tibetan organizations are the winners of the PR war. Time will show if they can turn this PR success into political change and action?