Say what you like about the communist Chinese government but it’s clear they haven’t entirely come to grips with what makes good public relations.
Which is surprising really, because it was only last year they talked about employing an American firm to help portray their administration in a more positive light during the lead-up to the Olympics.
Yes, I know, a tricky assignment that, creating good spin for an expansionist regime that executes more of its own people each year than the rest of the world combined – that locks up state critics for years without trial, doesn’t have democratic elections, doesn’t have religious freedoms and still sniffs derisively at the idea of independent courts.
For all that, the idea of China paying for their PR would surely still be a better bet than trying to go it alone.
They’ve failed miserably, and laughingly, at this in the past but their recent efforts in trying to prevent the world from watching Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer’s The 10 Conditions of Love (Maori TV, Tuesday, 8.30pm) only suggests they’ve learnt nothing.
Thanks to China’s ham-fisted efforts in trying to stop Kadeer from speaking to Australia’s National Press Club recently, and then an attempt to persuade Maori TV to cancel its screening, The 10 Conditions of Love has now been billed as the doco the Chinese government didn’t want us to see.
As Kadeer conceded the other day, she couldn’t have hoped to buy the advertising she’s received.
According to the People’s Republic, Kadeer is a terrorist fronting a militant organisation pushing for a separate homeland for the Uighurs, a Muslim minority in the Xinjiang province, which she calls East Turkestan.
Mind you, China also considers 1989 Nobel Peace Laureate the Dalai Lama an evil terrorist, not to mention a supporter of last year’s deadly riots in Tibet.
But Kadeer says she only wants the world to sit up and take notice of China’s systematic attempt to wipe out the cultural identity of its ethnic minorities. She wants to highlight restrictions on the use of ethnic language and clamps on the freedom to worship.
She wants us to know about the “Go West” schemes that offer employment, enhanced salaries, housing, benefits and other incentives to Han Chinese – but not Uighurs.
Now exiled in the United States, she has two sons in Chinese prisons, three others under surveillance – and she hasn’t seen her nine grandchildren for years.
But she also knows she’s lucky.
Tibetan film-maker Dhondup Wangchen, 34, currently languishes in Xining City No. 1 Detention Centre on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”, having been initially detained in March 2008.
The crime? Making a documentary.