Sunday, October 22, 2006

Beijing Olympics: China Exposed

In this article, Yao Ming says that his fellow countrymen should "stop shouting in public and respect pedestrians". All of this is for, of course, the Beijing Olympics, so that China can present an image of an "internationalized host nation with a great cultural tradition."

Now, a while back I compared the upcoming Olympics to the "Hitler Olympics" (the 1938 Summer Olympics). There was massive cleanup before those Olympics, and it will and has been the same now, 70 years later.

Why? Well, China is a growing country, and despite its eagerness to show that it's very advanced compared to the rest of the world, it is in reality very poor, and not advanced at all in modern ways. The biggest reason for this is that China has been for years an isolated country. Some might think it's impossible for one of the biggest countries in the world in size and population to be cut off almost completely from foreign influence, yet that it what has happened. Furthermore, China is the oldest surviving civilization in the world, and over the years, its many and varied traditions have been kept intact, or at least a lot of them, anyway. However, a breakthrough from the outside was inevitable, and it did happen, although only gradually and over a period of years and decades. However, the processs had speeded up in the last 10 years, a lot of which goes to the fact that China is now a world leader.

So, how does this relate to Yao, and the Olympics? Well, in two year's time, what you'll have is a city hosting thousands of international players, reporters, and more, and being watched by billions around the world. This has never, ever happened before in China. Never have they had this kind of openness before so many people. So, gut check time for the Chinese goverment all around. The first thing they want to do is hide everything that's bad in China, and sad to say, there's a lot of bad things in China right now. The people are poor, mainland China is known for thieves and pickpocketers (here in Hong Kong, people are very wary about going over the border to Guangzhou, because it's notorious for having a ton of pickpocketers), and people are very backward. So, word is spread (secretly, of course), that "bumping off" poor people is OK, or that maybe you finally need to crack down on these thieves. Anything to maintain that good image to the outside world.

But, Yao, being both a patriot and a truthful guy, suddenly comes out with "we [need to] work on our public courtesy." Perhaps more people listen to Yao than any other Chinese figure, premier, prime minister, and everyone else included. So, to say publicly, in front of billions, that Chinese need to work on common courtesy and manners...well, talk about losing face. It's true, but no one (in China, at least) is supposed to say.

However, the worst thing about the Olympic "preparations" and all is that it's all game. Everyone knows that China is poor, and a lot of people are uneducated and backward. And when the games are over, and everyone leaves, you know what's going to happen? Those people who were swept off the street will come right back again, and Beijing will be back to "normal": corrupt, uneducated, and poor.


Robert said...

While Beijing 2008 may not be like Berlin in 1936, I could'nt help but wonder if the coming games might resemble the Moscow Olympics (or shudder, Munich) if terms like human rights or the Tibet issue pop up..

Mark Nilrad said...

I would say that Beijing 08 would be similar in that they would use it for blatant self-promoting of China.

And the terms "human rights" and "Tibet" won't turn up, because it'll all be swept under the table. As my post said, "everything to keep a good image".