In recent years, an increasing number of Chinese academics and journalists have become proud to call themselves “public intellectuals.” In their mind, the title of “public intellectual” carries two meanings: First, these people believe they represent the public interest and thus they have a duty to criticize government policies.Second, they think they are more intelligent and knowledgeable than lay people, so they are responsible for enlightening the public and teaching them how to participate in public affairs.
Generally, these Chinese public intellectuals, who support democracy, have promoted social liberalization in China. However, their narrow--mindedness and ignorance have been exposed in recent events.
Since 2009, more than 30 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against China’s political, cultural and religious suppression in Tibet. Facing such a severe humanitarian crisis, while the international community strongly condemns the Chinese government’s Tibet policy, most Chinese public intellectuals have remained silent.
Even though the public intellectuals may fear the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), it is still hard to understand why these public intellectuals and a large number of their fans are reluctant to speak out even in cyberspace. It seems that Chinese, about whom these public intellectuals are concerned and would like to speak for, do not include -Tibetans. Or perhaps, the public intellectuals insist they should criticize the Chinese government to protect the interests of all Chinese, but the precondition for making such criticism is that Tibetans, or any other non-Han, must accept that “XXX is an inseparable part of China’s territory since antiquity.”
In other words, for who refuse to accept this, their right to life and their other basic human rights do not belong to the “public interest” that the public intellectuals would like to protect.
As an Internet article said: “Chinese public intellectuals are collectively playing dumb about the Tibetan self-immolation incidents. Their silence is a form of conspiracy. They are as shameless as the murderers.”
Chinese public intellectuals are also ignorant of Taiwanese issues. Normally, the public intellectuals praise Taiwan’s democratic experience and hope Taiwan can help China’s democratization. However, they are not able to propose any approach, so they have to place their hope in the CCP’s “one country, two systems” formula. Therefore, the public intellectuals are actually agents of the CCP’s propaganda for Taiwan.
In the wake of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung’s (吳伯雄) “one country, two areas” proposal to Beijing, the public intellectuals’ respect for the KMT, as well as their hope for a so-called “third CCP-KMT cooperation” and “one country, two systems” have climaxed.
One famous public intellectual wrote on the Internet: “China includes the mainland and Taiwan, which is the part that has a better system, while the other should learn from it.”
Another public intellectual said: “When the elected Taiwanese government claims the mainland as an inseparable part of the nation, the legitimacy of the non-elected people’s government is challenged. The KMT government should not restrict the presidential election to only the Taiwan area. Instead, it should organize elections in both Taiwan and on the mainland. Therefore the jurisdictional territory of Taiwan would expand to the whole of China. The future China will include both the mainland and Taiwan.”