JKhedrup wrote:My experience of this was during my university studies and the students holding this view were 2nd generation, with parents from either Taiwan or Hong Kong. I think the identity politics paradigm of our university during those years had some effect in terms of the development of these views. Of course, none of them had spoken to Tibetans or Tibetan-Canadians for their ideas.
I think the underlying views of young Chinese go much deeper than identity politics at the university level and really have nothing to do with the DL or Tibetan issue. It's about finding their own cultural identity when they are a minority people in their society. The central theme of Jane Iwamura's book Virtual Orientalism
is rooted in, from her perspective, the western appropriation of Asian cultures. There's much I disagree with in her writings (based on reading to reviews of her book and reading her book may cause me to change my thoughts here), but I acknowledge that Asian communities (at least in the west) feel violated by the appropriation of their cultures, especially as a minority culture where there is little around them that is their own. This wouldn't be restricted just to 2nd generation Chinese, but Vietnamese, Japanese, etc.
I think there's an underlying feeling that "whites" shouldn't, or don't have the right to, comment on "their" culture or have the right to integrate at a fundamental level in their culture. As an example, check out some of the American Asian reaction, especially by men, to white men dating Asian women.
JKhendrup, I wasn't there, but it's just as likely that these Chinese students you spoke to had zero interest or knowledge or informed position on the stance of the Chinese government towards Tibet, but saw you, at a meta level, as a white person finding another indirect method to put Chinese people and culture down and in its place (I'm not saying that was your intent, but our intent is separate than how what we do is viewed, which is always through the eyes of the other - in your case, by young Chinese university students).
You mentioned that none of the students had spoken to Tibetans for their (Tibetan) ideas. I wonder, did you sit and discuss at length with these Chinese-Canadians about their own culture, their own cultural identities and what it was like to be Chinese in Canada? In some ways, these Chinese students should be more capable of understanding the situation in Tibet, and empathizing with Tibetans at a personal level, as the Tibetans are being relegated to a minority culture/people in their own land.
JKhedrup wrote:I actually feel this is a narrow attitude because Tibetan culture is on the verge of extinction and everyone needs to speak out. Sometimes urgency precludes other consideration.
Urgency should never preclude interacting with an individual, in an individual setting, as an individual, with love and compassion and a genuine heart to understand. Nor should it allow us to hold on to conveying negative views towards people who don't have our same sense of urgency. Urgency should never supersede the six paramitas, or the teachings on emptiness and impermanence. What if we substitute your words with "I feel this narrow attitude that samsara is the end all and be all of everything will lead to more suffering and everyone needs to become practicing Buddhist right now." That would be silly of course. Though much more real (and urgent) in many ways - 10,000 years from now Tibet, China, the US, Canada, Buddhism etc. more than likely won't exist. But we will continue to take rebirth in the human realms, or lower realms, over and over again.
I'm not saying that the Tibetan issue isn't important, but perhaps 2nd generation Chinese-Canadian university students have other issues they are trying to cope with and if you had addressed those first, then they might have a different view on matters important to you. Often people who appear indifferent to the suffering of others have much suffering of their own. Nor would it be a wonderful thing if they were to agree with you about the Tibetan issue ("some Chinese get it!") yet be committed themselves to a life of materialism and desires that could lead to rebirth in one of lower realms.