Why Do I Oppose Boycotting Carefour?

He Yanguang (贺延光), born in 1951, is a senior photojournalist for China Youth Daily. He wrote on his blog: “I don’t boycott things from France, I only boycott idiots 不抵制法货,只抵制蠢货.” Searching this phrase online, one can find more than 45,500 results (April 22, 2008). Now he has changed the title of his blog post, but the contents remain the same. Here is a short summary and partial translation of He’s post:

When the information we get all comes from one source, people’s thinking will certainly not be rational.

We have had too many lessons, and seen too much stupidity. One person’s mistake is no big deal, the big danger is when everyone makes the same mistake.

I have been getting anti-Carrefour short messages, saying that we should boycott Carrefour because the French government supports Tibet independence and the French president will not attend the Olympics opening ceremony. ….. When I see the sentiments expressed these last few days, they really scare me, spreading like some kind of contagious disease.

Why France? France has had quite a few disagreements with the USA these past few years, and has agreed with China on quite a few issues. And now because Sarkozy was elected on the one man-one vote principle, the French people have changed?

In the West people can express any view, but the police are quick to suppress violence. Just compare that with China. Why don’t Chinese students organize an anti-Dalai Lama demonstration in Beijing??

I understand those emotional people. Forty years ago I was one of them. “A wave from Chairman Mao and we all march forth.” And really messed the country up. I nearly got myself killed too. In those days, the best method of the dictatorial ruler was to set up an information barrier, just as our radios in our neighbor North Korea only pick up one channel, so the beliefs of the people of North Korea will be just like Kim Jung-Il’s. Though our country was on the edge of economic collapse, we angry youth swore that we would rescue the suffering masses in the capitalist countries.

Although China has made great economic strides, in people’s thinking there is still a lot of back and forth. The reason is simple. When a sudden incident occurs, we go back to our old habits and an information barrier is set up.

“People directly involved are confused, while bystanders see more clearly.” The lesson that I have learned is to always ask if our information is from only one source. We see the resulting information but not how it has changed.

The Tibet question is very complicated. The Dalai Lama has over the past decades has moved from independence to a middle path and recognizes Tibet to be a part of China. However there are factions under DL. The Tibet Youth Congress wants independence and opposes the Olympics and calls for violence. But we cannot simply place all the responsibility for this on DL. Just as all the responsibility for the extreme factions under him that he cannot control cannot be placed on Yasser Arafat. Treating them all the same is a failed policy at least and as a result cannot stop violence and makes it impossible to reach some people who might otherwise be reached.

“As long as you don’t seek independence, anything can be discussed.” It seems that this central government policy is still in force. Taiwan is watching. If the Tibet issue is not handled well, there is no hope for recovering Taiwan.

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