Archives – 1999
Visite d’État du président de la République populaire de Chine JIANG Zemin
Revue de presse et autres réactions

Courrier des lecteurs de… SinOptic
8 avril 1999

Lettre d’une Chinoise à un ami suisse, lequel l’a transmise, avec son accord et en demandant l’anonymat, à SinOptic.
(l’original en anglais)

While you are ashamed for what happened in Switzerland, I am ashamed of the behavior of our president. In my point of view, he made himself a loser. It is true that during his ten years presidency, he has never met such a situation, but it does not mean that this should never happen in a state visit. As the president, he should always be prepared for any diplomatic incident, and should know how to handle it.

Every incident is a chance in disguise for the person to show his personality and to achieve more than what he plans. Our greatest (up to now, and I think might be for ever) primmer ZHOU Enlai was quite good at turning the diplomatic incidents or sometimes even conspiracy into a chance to develop the Chinese image. He was acting in the era of great difficulties of Chinese diplomacy at the very beginning of the foundation of PRC… I guess you know all his stories already.

Anyway, our president’s attitude to the Tibetan demonstration and his wording of the government of Switzerland could not control the country just left people with the wrong impression how China would have treated the Tibetan if they were in China, and how the government of China controls its people. Thank God he did not remind people too much of the Tiananmen Square by saying : if this was in China, the tanks will not wait…Westerners who have never been in China too long, always have the different impression of Tibetan from the reality, due to the media and the distance. This is actually a good chance to show the generosity of China’s government to Tibetan, if JIANG Zemin had given a second thought…and his other wording reveals the status of the human right in China itself though he was talking differently…

To me, this is an incident on Swiss side, and a diplomatic failure on Chinese side. Though they seemed to have left with a happy mood, never believe it : Since they have over-reacted, in the end, they realized and had to down play it, but they over-down played it a bit…the consequence might be that JIANG Zemin is rather mad about his behavior, but then he put pressure on the Chinese foreign ministry… the Sino-Swiss relation is surely affected, and it might take as long as the tenure of JIANG Zemin to recover.