It’s funny that when it comes to issues offending the chinese government, one sentence is often tossed around: “Please don’t hurt the feelings of the chinese people.” So any foreign leader meeting Dalai or other famous dissidents is “hurting the feelings” of the chinese. Another sentence is also often tossed around: “Please don’t stand on the opposite of the people.” This one seems to be more related to the cultural revolution when the last thing you want to be in china is a labeled “enemy of the people” (while in fact, you probably are merely enemy of the government).
Putting aside the argument whether, without any poll or sufficient interviews, some statements or actions can be said to really offend a 1.4 billion group, there is another simple logic people seem to ignore. What is the assumption of these two sentences? The implied assumption is that people (the majority) are always right. Our mere 5000 years of history, however, show that for most of the time, the majority are wrong. Simple examples are if you don’t want to hurt the feelings or stand against the German people in the 1940s, all Jews should be wiped out; if you don’t want to offend the delicate beliefs of the religious Europeans in the middle ages, please say, yes, the sun is a bitch circling around the earth.
The bottom line is, for a critical mind, these two sentences have no intrinsic meaning when they are used in a brainwashing fashion either by the government or by the citizens. And in reality, they are almost always used that way.