Border Crossings and the Blood on Our Hands

In 2006, China was crucified in the Western media due to a few unarmed Tibetans being killed attempting to illegally cross the border into India. repeated this news that originally ran in the UK’s Guardian. I recall the incident because it was on the news in the US at the time.

Of these few border deaths in China, Buzzle says, “A Romanian cameraman, whose footage of the incident revealed that snipers shot the unarmed Tibetans as they waded through thick snow. The shaky video shows two figures in a column of refugees fall to the ground. “They’re shooting them like, like dogs,” says a witness next to the cameraman.”

The headline shouted “International Anger Grows Over Tibet Shooting. Human Rights groups are calling for a UN Investigation into the killing of a nun by Chinese border patrol guards, writes Jonathan Watts in Beijing.”

Recently, I read another story I’d never heard of before from The Economist of another border where similar killings happen often, but I found no demand for a UN Investigation in the Western media. Even The Economist, which reported the story, did not call for an investigation.

Instead, The Economist concludes with, “Shooting the people you claim to want to do business with is a poor start.”

Maybe the difference is that the border killings reported by The Economist took place between two democracies — India and Bangladesh.

I couldn’t find a report of this India-Bangladesh incident in English on YouTube

The Economist says, “On January 7th India’s Border Security Force (BSF) shot dead Mr. Nur Islam’s 15-year-old (daughter) Felani, at an illegal crossing into Bangladesh from the Indian state of West Bengal. Felani’s body hung from the barbed-wired fence for five hours. Then the Indians took her down, tied her hands and feet to a bamboo pole, and carried her away. Her body was handed over the next day and buried in the yard at home.”

“The BSF (India’s Border Security Force) kills with such impunity along India’s 4,100-kilometer (2,550-mile) border with Bangladesh that one local journalist wonders what the story is about. According to Human Rights Watch, India’s force has killed almost 1,000 Bangladeshis over the past ten years.”

How many were reported killed by witnesses of the China incident? Two or three?

What about deaths along the US border? The Snow Report says, “Border deaths for illegal immigrants hit record high in Arizona sector.”

The Snow Report says, “The discovery of record numbers of bodies along the Tucson sector of the US-Mexico border suggests that border crossings for illegal immigrants are becoming deadlier as heightened security forces migrants into remoter and more forbidding areas.”

Maybe democracies (which are billed as better places to live), sort of like James Bond, get a free pass from the Western media to kill.

Discover more about India Falling Short


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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23 Responses to Border Crossings and the Blood on Our Hands

  1. […] usual, my “reply” was too long. I can’t help it. I’m more of a novelist than a […]

  2. Alessandro says:

    I think for sure having more money is a temptation to buy useless things, eat more etc. but in the end, I believe, it’s more related to education and who we are…it is not said that cause u actually have the money u have to waste them in junk food, or that cause u have more than 1 tv set (which in itself is a great communication tool) u have to always watch tv..and also, it depends what u use tv for..watching movies (depending on the movies) can enrich u, watching cultural programs also can…So it all come down to what kind of education we received and who we are.
    Of course some “uses” can be bad in the long run. My wife always critics the fact that on bus or public transports here in China (we’re in BJ but we’ve seen it also elsewhere) they most of the times let kids sit; people sometime stand up to let kids sit, or bus personnel also tell kids to sit down whenever a seat is free. Now, I can understand and agree with this kind of behavior in the case of elderly people..but why with kids? My wife recall that when she was a kid, it wasn’t like this, and I also think it’s not very good for kids to be treated this way, cause I heard many times kids complaining on public transports cause they pretended to be seated.

    • What you described about the change in behavior and the way Chinese children are treated fits the changes that have already taken place in the US.

      Most people in America have no idea of the history of children in US. Until the 1930s, when the child-labor laws were passed, children were treated as if they were the property of the parents and poor families often sold their children into a form of child slavery called servitude.

      In fact, America has a long history of using the children of poor people as slaves. Even after the brutal American Civil War in the 1860s to free the African American slaves, children were still sold into slavery to work in coalmines and factories. Many states even had laws that allowed girls as young as nine to have sexual affairs with boys, teens or older men and it was legal leading to child prostitution being legal in the US.

      Culturally, America has never valued education as China has for millennia. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the law made it mandatory for parents to send their children to school and made it illegal for children to work. The mandatory part was not to force the children to go to school against the child’s will. It was to limit the parential control over the child so the child could not be sold into any form of slavery, which had been an American institution since colonial times.

      Prior to the 1930s children could be tried for capital crimes such as murder and hung or shot and some were.

      Then in the 1960s, the soft approach to parenting was introduced as a theory, which new studies show is a flawed theory. This theory was that a child would be more successful in life if he or she had a high sense of self-esteem. This led to where we are today where children are a special species until the eighteenth birthday. The laws protect them from punishment. Even crimes that might lead to a death penalty are forgiven and when a child turns eighteen no matter what the criminal record is, it is sealed and the eighteen year old gets a new start as if he or she was born at the age of eighteen.

      Today, children are treated as if they are special. Many are pampered. Many take having fun for granted. Many are allowed to make decisions that should be left to more mature adult and parents. Many take for granted that they will always be successful and treated as if they cannot lose. The message many hear from birth is that they are winners at everything they do and if they dream something, it will come true when they grow up.

      The way children were treated before 1930s and now are like the difference between night and day. That change has gone too far–too extreme from where it was. The best way to raise children should be somewhere in the middle between the way it was before 1930s and today.

      This extreme has led to NOT putting the blame where it belongs on poor parenting and too many pampered children that take things for granted and who feel entitled to being treated that way, and when schools appear to fail at teaching children, teachers are blamed and pressure is put only on teachers to fix the problem. The American “No Child Left Behind Act” is an example. There is no mention in the ACT that children should perform better or there will be consequences. There is no language in the ACT holding parents responsible for making sure children read at home, study at home, do homework. Instead, teachers are the only people held responsible to improve learning.

      If this is an indication that too much success for too many people leading to a large and affluent middle class is a trigger for the end of a culture and civilization then humanity is doomed to repeat history repeatedly, which may eventually lead to the end of the human species.

      Is this the cycle that brought down the Roman Empire, the Han, Tang, Sung, Yung, Ming and Qing Dynasties?

      • Terry K Chen says:

        Lloyd, it’s very good that you mentioned that you are also opposed to minority races getting benefits. I along with many han chinese are opposed to this too. Apart from the benefits you mentioned they also have free education, free medicare, and its easier for them to find jobs(there are also numerous other benefits). However, when you give any race special benefits, they take it for granted and rarely ever show any sign of appreciation. I find it disgusting that people of minority races in China can complain of “competition” from the han chinese. Why can’t they just work hard as well? They have such a big advantage in life and its so much easier for them to succeed.

        Another reason I’m opposed to these benefits is because it dilutes the chinese identity. People in these minority races will consider themselves as tibetan or uiger or manchurian before they consider themselves as Chinese. I highly doubt that would be the case if they had the same rights that the han chinese have.

      • Creating protected minorities with special privileges has not worked in the United States. When President LBJ declared his War on Poverty in 1964, many entitlement programs/privileges were created for a specific minority in the US. I read recently that the cost so far in the War on Poverty has reached more than $6.5 Trillion Dollars over the last 47 years.

        However, to be fair, for the same 47 years, US Military and Defense Spending between 1964 and 2011 was about three times the cost of the War on Poverty and proposed spending for defense for 2011 – 2012 will top one trillion dollars. (Note: Republicans/Conservatives in the US “NEVER” complain about defense spending–only entitlement programs such as Social Security or Medicare aimed to deal with poverty and starvation/hunger.)

        The US Census says, “In the 2009 ACS, 14.3 percent of the U.S. population had income below their respective poverty thresholds. The number of people in poverty increased to 42.9 million and its higher for 2010.

        In 1959, poverty in the US was 22.4% and in 1964, the year LBJ launched his war on poverty, the rate was 19.2%. By 1973, due to LBJ’s poverty programs, the poverty rate temporarily dropped to the lowest in history to 11.1%, but it didn’t stay there long.


        The facts show that when societies/countries create special categories for any segment of the population, that segment will eventually take it for granted that they will always be taken care of and stop working as hard to take care of themselves, but the same can be said about the Defense budget in the US. All those people that create weapons expect the gravy train to just keep feeding them. no matter the costs until the parasites, drain the body of all its blood.

    • Terry K Chen says:

      While I haven’t seen kids in China being encouraged to take a seat on buses, I agree that they are not as respectful to elders as they once were. In my opinion, this is because of the one child policy. As every couple can only have one child, they treat him or her like a god, fearful of the child getting hurt or abused. In many ways, they are learning from the american form of parenting. While Chinese people still have a much stronger family bonds than westerners(especially Americans) in general, this trend worries me greatly.

      • Terry,

        I agree. The one-child policy is leading to a generation of spoiled “me” children just like most of the children in the US. However, in the US due to the self-esteem parenting movement, we not only have spoiled children, we have narcissists too that have been raised to believe the world revolves around them and all dreams will come true even if they don’t work to achieve those dreams.

        At least it still appears that the Chinese (even the one-child children) are willing to work hard in school and do not expect childhood dreams to come true at the flip of a switch with no effort

        The one child policy mostly applies to urban China so about 800 to 900 million rural Chinese may still have more than one child and the 56 minorities in China have no restrictions on family size.

  3. Alessandro says:

    As far as I know, all minorities enjoy preferential treatment for taxes, university enrollment etc (and they are exempted from the so called “one-child policiy”…which also is more a vast array of different policies and regulations according to where it is enforced – large differencies, for example, between urban and rural dwellers -, than a single, simple policy).
    As for the 两少一宽 I was talking about, it is in fact a policy of lesser enforcement and less sentencing, but not for “problematic” (problematic WHAT???) groups, as Jonolan incorrectly states, but for ethnic minorities in general. I’m not a lawyer or a sociologist, so I will not enter into details if it is a wise policy or not….but I know that it has sometimes caused the protest of the majority han population, that sees it as a “reverse discrimination”. It also have another side-effect: some elements of minority groups feel “freer” to commit crimes, cause they know they’ll be somewhat less harshly punished, if caught.

    • Interesting. I wonder why the Central Government in China does this. The US has also had protests of “reverse discrimination” for entitlement programs and college entrance policies in America that favor minorities. Is it possible that this is another example of China copying the US?

      I’ve run into this type of thinking before among Chinese—sort of this kind of reasoning: If Americans eat fast food from McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC, then we will eat that food too because that might be the reason America is so powerful and/or if Americans raise their children to have a high sense of self-esteem and to have fun instead of a strong work ethic, we will raise our children the same way.

      A friend who recently returned to teaching English in China says the children are becoming more like North American children. They are fatter, make more noise, and are more hyperactive with shorter attention spans than he experienced a few years ago when he was teaching English there. He said the children clearly have a stronger sense of entitlement and take having fun and eating bad food for granted, which is leading to the same epidemics in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other serious illnesses we see in developed Western nations.

      Which brings me to this question—is it really a good thing to have a large middle class with more disposable income? I’m not saying poverty is the answer but maybe a livable income without much money left over for eating bad food and buying a lot of useless junk such as video games. How many TVs does one family need in a home?

      I know that we are guilty of that–we have four TVs and five computers with two linked to the Internet but we don’t eat fast/junk food. Instead, we eat mostly home cooked meals as a family and stay away from processed foods as much as possible and the TV is left off 90% of the time.

  4. Alessandro says:

    For Jonolan, I’d also suggest him to take a look at what the policy called 两少一宽 liang shao yi kuan (literally: two less and one broad, usually referred two as “two restraints and one leniency” policy), is in China.

    • Alessandro,

      Is this the policy that favors China’s 56 minorities (which includes Tibet and Islamists in the Northwest) to attend universities and having more than one child (no one-child policy for minorities in China. The one-child policy only applies to Han Chinese).

      For example: I learned that if a minority person from Tibet or a minority member that is also a Muslim wanted to attend a university, the central government moves them to the head of the line in front of more eligible Han Chinese, pays the minority student a stipend and provides tutors to help him or her succeed. Then after graduating, the minority graduate is encouraged to return to the autonomous region where he or she grew up to help his or her people better their lifestyles.

      I’m not aware of the details or qualification standards for this program in China.

      In fact, I discovered that minorities in China are encouraged to follow their minority cultures lifestyles and beliefs. Although during Mao’s rule, religions were harshly treated in China, no group be they Tibetan Buddhists, Muslims, Jews or Christians was left out of Mao’s war on religion anywhere in mainland China. Then soon after Mao died, under Deng Xiaoping, many of the monasteries that were destroyed or damaged by the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution were rebuilt by the government so Buddhists could practice their religions again.

      However, children had to go to school and not work until they were at least 16. That was mandatory regardless of minority beliefs or lifestyles.

      I believe I’ve written about this in previous posts.

      • jonolan says:

        Sort of or perhaps – the policy, started in the 1970s or 1980s – was a policy of lesser enforcement and lesser sentencing under enforcement for “problematical” groups.

        Not a good policy to my mind, but I’m not trying to enforce draconian laws upon a diverse populations so have the luxury of not thinking about it.

      • The United States has similar entitlement programs for minorities when it comes to getting into colleges, and those programs were and still are wrong. Competition is the best way to decide who makes it into a college or university. However, it isn’t my place to tell China that if it is wrong to do this in the US, it may also be wrong to do this in China.

  5. Alessandro says:

    Actually Lloyd, the Republic of China (aka Taiwan) till today, if I’m not mistaken or have been recent changes in the official policy, still claim sovereignty over all the pre-civil war republican territory, Tibet included. So we can be quite sure that had KMT won the civil war, they too would have reclaimed Tibet as well…
    The current “tibet issue” is nothing more that a part of the “containment” enacted by USA to contrast “communist” countries after the end of WWII. Had KMT won the war, u can rest assured that there wouldn’t ever be any problem about Tibet being, as it is, a part of China’s territory…

  6. Alessandro says:

    Jonolan, I respect ur freedom to read whatever fiction u like and to live in whatever fantasyland u prefer, but please don’t pretend other people live in it too…About Tibet, it’d appear u haven’t got the slightest clue of what the real situation is there, let alone the historic context. People of tibetan ethnicity are full chinese citizens, have the same movement freedoms of all the other citizens, and as member of one of the many ethnic minorities are entitled to MANY preferencial policies (more lenient penal treatment, no births control, no taxes in the case of Tibet.
    Please, try to spend sometime to get at least a MINIMAL knowledge of facts before u start mumbling nonsense…thanks…

  7. jonolan says:

    Again I’m forced to point out the difference in situations.

    Tibet is a conquered / occupied territory. Its people are not allowed the same freedoms, such as they are, that tare allowed the Hans.

    Do you really believe believe that the Chinese didn’t murder Tibetans trying to reunite with their government-in-exile?

    Don’t get me wrong. China won that war and I accept the restrictions placed upon conquered peoples until their culture can be destroyed and their population assimilated. The world-at-large doesn’t though.

    • Jonolan,

      Most Americans believe the misinformation, deceit and lies that the Tibetan separatists have spread. Most of the Tibetans that live outside China were the former landowners.

      Few in the West know the truth. When the Communists tried to explain that they had Imperial documents to prove Tibet had been part of China for centuries, most people in the West scoffed and refused to believe them.

      I mean, who in America would trust anything a Communist would say even if it were the truth?

      However, the Communist claim was correct and if I hadn’t seen primary source materials (from Western sources) written by people well before 1950s, who were not Communists, I wouldn’t have beloved them either. Robert Hart (1835 – 1911) wrote more than 50 letters about Tibet that prove Tibet was ruled by China and he was writing these letters in the 19th century.

      The fact is that Tibet was part of the Yung (1277-1367), Ming (1368-1643) and Qing Dynasties (1644-1911).

      Then about 1911, while the Qing Dynasty was collapsing during Sun Yat-sen’s rebellion to create a republic in China, the British Empire (for political reasons due to having trouble with the Russians) convinced the Tibetans to declare their freedom and break from China. Since China was plunged into chaos and anarchy then civil war, then World War II, the civil war again from 1911 to 1949, China was in no shape to reclaim Tibet.

      True, by the time Mao ordered the People’s Liberation Army to invade Tibet in 1950, there was another government in Beijing. However, how is that different from three different Dynasties ruling over Tibet? The Yuan were the Mongols; the Ming Dynasty was ruled by Han Chinese, and the Qing were Manchurians. The Communists under Mao were just the next Han dynasty. Some historians refer to Mao as the Modern Emperor. After all, he ruled China for almost 27 years and lived in the Forbidden City for most if not all of that time.

      What’s the difference?

      We will never know if the Nationalists (KMT) under Chiang Kai-shek would have done the same thing if the KMT had won the Civil War.

      In addition, the Yuan Dynasty under the Mongols invaded Tibet and much more. When the Ming Dynasty drove out the Mongols, the Ming Emperor sent a Han Chinese Army to Tibet to drive out the Mongols that had stayed there. That Ming army stayed–how long I don’t remember.

      Historical records, which I have written about here in other posts about Tibet and provided links to, pointed out that during the Qing Dynasty, China still considered Tibet part of China. Near the end of the 19th century in the 1880s, the British Empire even signed an accord/agreement/treaty (whatever name they called it) that recognized China’s right to rule over Tibet. Robert Hart wrote of this in one or more of his letters. His original letters are archived at the Queens University of Belfast in Ireland. Scholars from Harvard University went there and transcribed them then returned to Harvard to publish Hart’s letters and his journals (he kept daily entries in his journals most of his life) in the 1970s.

      The University in Belfast has as a Website so people may read some of Robert Hart’s material. I have a link to that Website at the bottom of my Website for “My Splendid Concubine”. I bought three of the volumes published by Harvard–one for Hart’s early journals and two for many if not all of his letters. If you want, you may also buy copies to verify this information.

      In that document, the Chinese agreed to allow the British to do what they wanted with Burma but Tibet was to be left alone and isolated without any foreign trade or visitors.

      The National Geographic Magazine for October 1912 (I have an original copy I paid $20 for on e-bay) has a feature that was written by a Chinese doctor sent to Tibet by the emperor in 1907 and in that piece that was published by NGM several years later, the doctor goes into detail about the organization of Tibet’s government and how the Emperor appointed two governors to rule jointly over that province and the Dalai Lama was only the spiritual head—not the political.

      In comparison, what has the US government done to North American natives that have rebelled or resisted Washington DC’s rule?

      Do you want to go into the Native Indian wars with the United States and how native tribes are treated today?

      China ruled over Tibet (after the first conquest) for more than six centuries, then lost Tibet for thirty-nine years.

      The US invaded and conquered the native American Indian tribes during the 19th century (about one hundred and thirty years ago).

      The US Federal government was behind the fall of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, which resulted in the Republic of Hawaii, which lasted from 1894 to 1898 then was annexed by the US to become a territory in 1898. There are several separatist movements in the US: Hawaii, Texas, California and Alaska. It has been claimed that Sarah Palan’s husband was involved with Alaska’s separatists.

      What would Washington D.C. do if any US state attempted to leave the union? We already know.

      What did President Abraham Lincoln do when the Southern States broke from the Union?

  8. jonolan says:

    I think that you’ll find that people have vastly different opinions about shooting people trying to illegal ENTER a country and shooting people trying to leave a country.

    Amongst other things, the latter is expressly considered a violation of human rights by the UN.

    • True. Opinions on any controversial topic vary widely. I wonder if “human rights” is a luxury that only rich and powerful countries can afford but when survival is hard, human rights go out the door.

      The US didn’t care much about “human rights” as it was winning World War II. Although there were rules about bombing civilians the US bombed cities in Germany and Japan killing hundreds of thousands.

      Was it right? I cannot answer that. After all, Western civilization survived, which is what happens when species or tribes or civilizations clash. Someone losses and someone wins and the ones that lose often vanish sometimes into extinction as evolution shows us.

      • Alessandro says:

        Actually I don’t really know what exactly happen that time on the border (but I have quit grown distrustful of Guardian and many UK-US news outlets, so it could be whatever, and probably the true story is pretty different from what has been told), but it’s not the norm. People here in China leave or enter the country freely, and I know for A FACT that many tibetan exit with no problem the country to go for religious reasons to India, and then come back..
        As for people having different opinions about shooting who enter illegally a country and other things…that’s their problem..Shooting unarmed people who enter, even illegally a country, is as much a crime.

      • Thank you Alessandro. I’m aware that about 60 million Chinese leave China to visit other countries as tourists (every year and the numbers are growing) then return home (and they do return home contrary to the popular myth that Chinese want out of China so bad they would risk their lives to come to the US—the reason Chinese risk their lives to get smuggled into the US is the same reason so many South of the Border pay smugglers to get them in to the US—to make more money in Gold Mountain, which is a myth in China that is soon shattered once they arrive and realize that the US isn’t Gold Mountain).

        We have a visitor from China that owns the lease on her home in the suburbs of Beijing. She is not a member of the Party. She’s my wife’s step-mother. She comes and goes freely and loves shopping for merchandise made in the US. It seems that the Chinese (how ironic), if given a choice, would rather buy “made in the US” than “made in China” and when they are here they check labels. Once they return home, they show off what they bought in the US that was “made in the US” (I want to write a post about this too).

        In addition, she’s retired and receives a pension from Chinese social security, which I’d like to know more of so I could write about it and compare it the America’s SS. She says she even gets a cost of living increase each year. My father-in-law, who is eighty, also receives a pension from the same source and he did not belong to the party either.

        Then there are the students that come from China. Mainland Chinese make up the largest contingent of foreign students—even many of China’s leaders send their children to Western universities not because the universities are any better than China’s top universities but to insure their children learn of Western culture since China is adapting to survive in a world dominated by the West economically.

        Statistics show that the average Chinese family saves a third of their income to be spent on the child’s education. Many children that do not get into Chinese universities end up going to the West for educations if their families have saved enough to cover the expenses.

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