Pop politics at its best

Manjit Bhatia

Aug 25,08

from Malayisakini

From my hotel room window, China’s new national Olympics stadium is shrouded in a thick, gray mist. Visibility is approaching near hopelessness. Mr Magoo would’ve had no chance. Only it isn’t mist.


It’s smog. Pollution. The air outside, from which I had just escaped for the sanctuary of my hotel room, is thicker. The humidity is staggering. In the last few days more and more Beijingers began to wear facemasks, but many more braved the ‘mist’.

It would have been unpatriotic to wear facemasks, a slight on China’s moment of glory. But the blight on China is unmistakable — on many fronts.

About the only thing that is green about the Chinese Olympic ‘green’ Games are the millions of potted plants that dot every corner of Beijing, but the most noticeable ‘green’ is the algae that keep coming back to the Olympics sailing venue in the city of Qingdao.

Last May, Chinese authorities mobilised 10,000 people to clean up the algae, but the smelly muck, which can cover up to 13,000 sq km of sea, can be persistent. China’s Communist leaders privately have been lighting up every joss stick they can find and praying the weather changes so that the algae disappears.

But locals in Qingdao say the problem has been worsening in the last year or two, thanks to pollution. Richard Zheng, a local, told a BBC reporter the algae “smells like the soup we drink in our local restaurants”.

Just how green the China Olympics was isn’t just a profanation by Western media but the locals too. The Hu Jintao regime has been working overtime on providing the best possible spin on the ‘green games’, and the International Olympic Committee, led by Belgian Jacques Rogge, in his infinite wisdom, has chosen the hypocrite’s oath of closing an eye to the Chinese regime’s political and environmental shenanigans.

Even before the Games’ official opening ceremony, Rogge labeled the Beijing Olympics the ‘best yet’. But the IOC says this about every Olympic venue, even despite the blunders of Athens. So much so that the veracity of the IOC’s effusive proclamations and its morality are highly questionable, if not bankrupt. But you can understand the bankruptcy of the West’s morality, can’t you?

China is said to have spent at least US$40 billion to stage the Beijing Olympics. That’s a conservative figure. Many financial analysts in Shanghai and Hong Kong say the figure is much higher.

If you believe Chinese economic statistics, you’ll believe anything Beijing says. But never mind. The only ones eating out of the hands of the Chinese Olympic Committee are the world’s multinationals.

They know the true meaning of the multiplier effect of the Games — short and long term. And business knows no morality. It’s a zero-sum game and, as the tired old cliché goes, you have to be in it to win it.

And to win what? Why, the spoils of future business opportunities, of course, regulated by the notoriously corrupt and bloody brutal Hu Jintao regime.

A cold-blooded regime

Which in part explains why the lame duck and asinine US President, George Bush, gutlessly launched a tirade against the Chinese regime’s brutal crackdown against the regime’s dissidents, pro-Tibet protestors and Tibetans from Thailand. US multinationals would have rankled the White House, warning Bush not to spoil the applecart of future business opportunities.

It’s the same reason employed by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who flew to Beijing to attend the Games and consented Australian businesses undertaking trade shows during the Olympics.

The Mandarin-speaking Rudd counseled that China’s human rights record would not be changed overnight but incrementally. Nonetheless, he would be taking up the cudgels against the Hu regime on its brutal and bloody occupation of Tibet.

Yeah, right. Here’s Rudd trying to get Australia to again punch above its weight in regional affairs and international relations. This sorry saga, though, will only result in the same way as all the other sorry sagas, with Australian leaders kowtowing to the big powers.

Rudd is populist extraordinaire. Rhetoric is his biggest measure. He’s all form, no substance. Neither Rudd nor Bush have the coglione that Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel showed by choosing to boycott the Beijing Olympics, despite the global reach of German multinationals.

Tibetans and the Uighurs in Turkestan will be the last ones, if at all, to ever see a red cent from the spoils of the Beijing Games. So too the millions of Chinese citizens Beijing has forgotten.

Their loud criticisms of the Hu regime, that more money be spent on rebuilding their wretched lives rather than propping up poorly run state firms, including private companies owned by Communist Party henchmen and cronies, are legitimate.

Instead of genuinely addressing their concerns, the regime beats up its citizens who dare question it. It cold-bloodedly bludgeons Tibetans, the Uighurs and the Falun Gong, and easily labels legitimate separatists like the Uighurs terrorists.

Because if the Americans can, and their conga-lines in Britain and Australia can, then the Chinese can, and the rest of the world would not blink, because they know that if worse comes to worst, they too can — and will.

I’ve just watched the opening ceremony of the 29th Olympiad from inside the Bird Nest stadium in Beijing. This is my first step inside the facility. Inside, as outside, the smog is thick, but with lights blazing, then dimmed, you wouldn’t notice the difference.

This past week I’ve watched the hazy steel outcrop from the vantage of my hotel room. I’ve tried to figure out what exactly it’s supposed to represent. It’ll come to me.

Meanwhile, as outside the structure, as inside it, little China flags are shoved into the hands of Chinese spectators. Be proud, they’re told, and wave it enthusiastically. Show the world China has arrived.

It may have arrived into the modern world, but it has also brought its dark underbelly and bloody-mindedness with it. Recall the cold-blooded murder of Chinese students by the thousands in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Political shenanigans rule

As the Communist Party exhorts its people to display their ideologically-driven jingoistic nationalism, more as a means to keep its people in check, Chinese dissidents and so-called leftist intellectuals are being tortured in faraway labour camps, being ‘re-educated’ in the same way Mao Zedong had tried to re-educate his arch-enemy Deng Hsiaoping, the so-called father of modern China, its eternal patriarch.

The opening ceremony is, well, entertaining enough, quite brilliantly executed if somewhat predictable. It’s all Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon stuff. But the Chinese nation, collectively, reeks of blood on its hands.

Why the IOC gave China the Olympics is beyond comprehension. It has systematically abused the human rights of its people and those who have demanded independence and freedom. The Beijing Olympic Committee Executive Vice-President Wang Wei hopes the Beijing Games will show China as an open and friendly country.

It’s open and friendly to domestic and international capitalism, but it is closed and unfriendly towards many of its own people who challenge the Communist Party’s hegemony. And so they should.

But here’s the best bit, from President Hu Jintao: “We should carry forward the Olympic spirit of solidarity, friendship and peace, facilitate sincere exchanges among people from all countries, deepen mutual understanding, enhance friendship and rise above differences, and promote the building of a harmonious world featuring lasting peace and common prosperity.” Sheer brilliance. Pop politics, sui generis.

Do you think he has included Tibet and Xinjiang in his calculus, and the thousands upon thousands of dissidents and protestors it has imprisoned and tortured? Does he include the brutally murderous regime in the Sudan for its ethnic genocide in Darfur using Chinese-donated military hardware and finance?

mugabeDoes he extend the same to Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and his horde of thugs who rob their country blind and hide their ill-gotten wealth in China, with Hu’s blessing?

Or maybe he will ask his security chief in occupied Tibet to explain what he meant by wiping out the Dalai Lama’s clique? Genocide? Or perhaps he’ll change his tune and allow the Falun Gong to practice its religion, and allow Islam an equal place in China?

Or turn away the scores of missiles it has trained on the independent nation of Taiwan across the Taiwan Straits? Or admit, for once, that Deng Hsiaoping, Li Peng and the Communist Party Central Committee had allowed the People’s Liberation Army to slaughter the pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square?

Beijing Olympics. ‘One world, one dream’? Don’t think so. And the Bird Nest? I know what it stands for now — a purview of what anti-regime dissidents can expect: imprisonment in one of several Chinese gulags.

Because once the Games are over, Beijing will put away its friendly face, Hu Jintao will stop smiling ear-to-ear, or it’ll give him stretch marks, and it’ll be back to the old political shenanigans of Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism, with Chinese characteristics.

The smog never went away. It didn’t even lift an iota.

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