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Fears of a 'no-fun' Olympics in Beijing
  • Mary-Anne Toy, Beijing
  • July 19, 2008

FEARS of a "no fun Olympics" are growing as security restrictions increase and become more bizarre with less than 20 days to go until the opening ceremony.

Beijing police have been visiting bar owners in the popular Sanlitun area and asking them to sign pledges agreeing to not serve black people or Mongolians and ban activities including dancing. :Wow:

Bar owners said that police have been clamping down on black people and Mongolians, who are sometimes implicated in drug dealing and prostitution, as part of an Olympic clean-up campaign that they and locals fear will make for a secure but sterile Games.

Maggies, Beijing's most notorious expatriate bar, referred to as the "Mongolian embassy" because of its popularity with Mongolian prostitutes and Western men, was shut suddenly about two months ago after a reported murder.

The gay bar Destination has also been ordered to shut down its dance bar until further notice.

And in a separate move, the Ministry of Public Security announced at the start of the month that from October 1, discos, karaoke bars and other entertainment venues must install transparent partitions in previously private rooms, and ensure staff dress more modestly as part of an effort to crack down on prostitution and drugs.

The Minister of Culture announced on Thursday that all overseas entertainers who have ever attended activities that "threaten national sovereignty" will be banned. This follows an outburst by Icelandic singer Bjork at a Shanghai concert on March 2, which sparked an official investigation.

Bjork shouted out, "Tibet, Tibet," after performing her song Declare Independence.

A notice on the Ministry's website on Thursday said that entertainers who "threaten national unity", "whip up ethnic hatred", "violate religious policy or cultural norms" or "advocate obscenity or feudalism and superstition" will be banned. "Feudalism and superstition" are often code words used by the Chinese Government to refer to Tibetans loyal to the Dalai Lama. The move follows the detention of several prominent Tibetan singers.

Beijing CBD businesses are reporting increasingly bizarre restrictions on couriers. This includes a ban on transporting CD-ROMs through the city, and mobile phones or GPS devices can only be sent if their batteries are delivered separately. This is on top of postal restrictions on sending liquids and powders.

At least six big bars and restaurants inside the Beijing Workers' Stadium compound - where Olympic soccer matches will be held - have been ordered to shut ahead of the Olympics and during Games time.

Hundreds of armed checkpoints on the main roads coming into Beijing were introduced two weeks ago, and non-Beijing-registered vehicles have been banned until after the Olympics, a move that is causing massive delays and extra costs for businesses.

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It's backward thinking like this makes me wonder why the IOC chose China to host the Olympics in the first place. They never should have been in the running to begin with. The pollution alone was enough.

Sounds like 1936 all over again. I can't wait for the Brothas and Sistas competing over there to get a whiff of this one.

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Statick (7/21/2008)
It's backward thinking like this makes me wonder why the IOC chose China to host the Olympics in the first place. They never should have been in the running to begin with. The pollution alone was enough.

Sounds like 1936 all over again. I can't wait for the Brothas and Sistas competing over there to get a whiff of this one.


You can't make me believe the IOC didn't get paid off. I just know they did.

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stumpjumper (7/21/2008)
It's pretty obvious that massive amounts of cash went to the IOC. I'm just curious to know exactly how much.

of course it's obvious they were paid off.. having the olympics in china was a big mistake in the first place and the junk china is doing backs up what everyone opposed to it said in the first place. Let's not even get into the air pollution and the food issues.

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The truth about China and the Olympic Games

by Bao Tong

Chinese leaders need the Olympic Games to be legitimate in the eyes of the world and show off their successes. However, the stability they achieved is a consequence of the Tiananmen massacre. More importantly, keeping up appearances and saving face cannot hide the fact that the government in Beijing is incapable of providing justice to its people. Here is an essay by one of the most influential dissidents in today s China.


Beijing (AsiaNews) Bao Tong, 75, is one of the most prominent non-violent pro-democracy dissidents in China today. A former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and personal secretary to former Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang, he opposed the army intervention in 1989 that led to the massacre in Tiananmen Square. For this opposition he spent seven years in prison. Since 1997 he has been under house arrest, under 24-hour surveillance. His phone is bugged and often disconnected. Before his fall from grace, he worked closely with China s current Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. The essay he gave AsiaNews shows his vast culture and knowledge of Chinese history. In our translation we have tried to help readers unfamiliar with the subject matter with explanations in brackets or in footnotes. AsiaNews is responsible for the translation from Chinese.


1. The problem of Saving Face

The Beijing Olympics are a great opportunity for China to show off its splendour to the world. Since the Olympic Games take place every four years, a new venue must be found every four years. It is not that hard for world leaders to deal with the matter if one s psychology is normal , not so for China s leaders. For them, I fear it is quite impossible.

Why impossible in China? Because China was awarded the Games after the Tiananmen Square massacre. In support of the Chinese people, the international community continued to condemn and denounce a few Chinese butchers, but to show its friendship to more than a billion Chinese, they picked Beijing to host the Olympics.

This is what comes when peoples are on friendly terms but for those who succeeded the people responsible for the 1989 massacre, the first attitude (condemnation) is symptomatic of a desire to demonise China, embodying the not yet extinguished desire of hostile forces to exterminate us ; conversely, the second (awarding the Games) is seen as a lucky break that fell from the sky showcasing all of our transformations. Thus, China like Cinderella can say that it has turned into the most beautiful princess of the story.

For decades some people have referred to the Olympics as the end-all and be-all, as (China s) engine, for the sole purpose of showing off (our) splendour, doing all that is possible irrespective of its cost in human or economic terms. Obviously the splendour in question is not that of the Mothers of Tiananmen [1], or that of the people who submit petitions demanding justice, or that of migrant workers. The splendour that China wants to show is that of a stability that has steamrolled over everything, out of which the current greatness and harmony have oozed. Everyone must understand that this is the result of the massacre. Without it the country would not have risen to new heights; without it there would not have been the existing harmony.

Hosting the Olympic Games legitimises Chinese-style rule, the best kind there is and the best kind practice can show. Foreigners; Glorify us! Patriots; be proud! When I think about this my blood boils. How can this be considered normal psychology?

Athletes, sport enthusiasts, and tourists from every country of the world are joyfully coming to China; they are neither in pilgrimage, nor should they cause incidents. What do they come for? To take part in the competitions, to sightsee, to watch, hear, have fun, enjoy and have new experiences.

What is there in China? There are the Terracotta Warriors buried with Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang; there is the exotic atmosphere Marco Polo liked so much; there is the China in which the Boxer Rebellion broke out; there is the land pillaged by eight Western powers [2].

Across from the Forbidden City Tiananmen Square has seen the endless ocean of Red Guards under the rule of Mao Zedong; it has seen Deng Xiaoping s tanks and machine guns.

After the collapse of Communism China has become the lonely stronghold left to Marxism, Socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

It is a world miracle, good enough to enchant millions of tourists and encourage them to go down memory lane. Once they are home they will tell their friends, relatives, even grand-children, from generation to the next, that I was there, in China, in 2008. I was in the Middle Kingdom full mysteries, miracles and magic. . . .

Along with visitors hunting for adventures and curiosities some travellers also try to reflect upon their experiences. They are the citizens of the global village who want to look deep into China; study it carefully. They need to understand China s truth.

If they discover something good, then China will be singled out for everyone s admiration, becoming attractive for others as well. Some might even think about moving to China, taking out Chinese citizenship, enjoying the happiness that comes from being under the guidance of Communist rule.

Still for a long time knowing the truth in China was a hard and embarrassing matter. Why? Because news from China are tightly controlled. Chinese journalists must strictly obey and follow what the Central Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party says; they are told what they can and cannot publish as well as the tone in which they can do it.

Foreign media must also strictly adhere to the directives of the government and the foreign ministry. They are told where they can go; what event they can cover; whom they can interview. And this has been going on for quite a long time.

In order to project a new image ahead of the Olympics, the government at the end of 2006 announced that as of 1 January 2007 foreign media would have the right to freely interview people. In point of fact it is more of a privilege since Chinese journalists do not enjoy this right .

This said even this type of freedom of the press has been limited to only what is harmonious [3]. Whenever something is not harmonious there is no freedom. Only harmonious citizens are given the right to speak, not those who are not harmonious. For this reason, it is not easy to get to the truth in China, not even for those who have lived in the country for a long time. Imagine those who come for a short stay and take a superficial look!

If the truth cannot be known, one might expect few will be willing to move to China and become subjects of the People s Republic as a result of the Olympic Games. Of that, we can be certain.

As for those who are extravagant with their praise, they are bound to be numerous in the diplomatic corps or inside the government. Of that too, we can be certain. Who says that it is impossible to find the truth in China? Of these two points, we are certain!

2. The problem of truth (or how to save face)

A recent murder case can help outsiders understand truth Chinese-style. The body of a young woman from Wengan (Guizhou province) was found in a river. In their outrage people laid siege to the local central police station [4].

For the Xinhua news agency, these people are but an amorphous horde unaware of the truth. Quite so! Where there is no press freedom, there can be no truth. That is more than quite likely since Xinhua will have a hard time knowing the truth from Beijing.

The agency did however publish the truth from Guizhou right after the initial event, i.e. the truth as publicly reported by the Provincial Communist Party secretary, the highest local official who has the means to control unrest in Wengan.

The secretary talked about two truths. In the first one he acknowledged that too often in mining, internal migration, house demolition the rights of the population are violated; in the second, he noted that in solving these conflicts and controlling mass unrest, some officials are violence-prone, their methods too careless, including the way they employ the police. Thus it is true that the rights of the population are frequently violated; that the police was used too readily.

The latest incident in Wengan is the outcome of these truths. There is no doubt that the main culprits of the incident are those who have always violated the rights of the community, and that they have carelessly used the police.

It is also important to know these truths in relation to how mines are exploited, resources developed, migrants treated, homes forcibly demolished; all of which are the sparks that light up the thousands of fires of mass unrest.

Figures were released in the past. In 2004 more than 80,000 such cases were recorded; that is almost one every five minutes. To protect harmony though, such figures have not been published since 2005, but nothing suggests that they have declined in number and intensity.

Let us be frank! If this system based on violating the rights of the people and on the careless use of police does not change, there will never be peace. A system that violates collective interests and nonchalantly relies on police repression is the real offender. Put these two evils together and havoc is wrecked in people s life, generating a destructive attitude in which everyone wants a show down, even at the risk of one s own life. What is certain is that this system brings neither lasting security, nor lasting peace.

Yes! In China there is such a dangerous system that violates the rights of the population and too readily relies on the police force. It constitutes a danger to peace from within (its power structure) and without (the population).

In reporting the statement by (Guizhou s) Communist Party secretary Xinhua used the passive form, with no active subject. Who acted against the interests of the people? Who carelessly used the police? Since no active subject was used, the reader can get into a guessing game. Foreigners might think about organised crime. But ordinary Chinese will get it right away after so many years of training and practice. It is our system. Except for our party and government leaders, no one has such power. And like in a well-rehearsed script the news eventually reported the removal of the district chief, the party district chief, the police chief and the police political officer.

Despite this crackdown against officialdom the interests of the citizens can be still be violated at will. The police can be used at will. This is China s truth. Because all Chinese leaders, except for those supreme leaders who receive a Mandate from Heaven, all the others are appointed, from the top to the bottom. Elections are pure theatre. Rao, Sun and Yu; one appointed the other [5]. Emperor Qin drew up provinces and districts and their administrators served at the emperor s pleasure.

Mao Zedong taught that the Qin s system has been enforced by a hundred generations. The system is too beautiful, for this I advise you not to insult Qin. All protected officials, not tested in a direct election, get positive feedback from their superiors. As long they keep their nose clean and are well controlled, what Lao Bai Xing (the ordinary man or woman in the street) can touch them?

(Note: This is why the central government has objected to direct elections based on universal suffrage in Hong Kong. It fears they might have spill-over effects on the mainland, cause contamination by democracy. Under the territory s Basic Law, agreed to by China and the United Kingdom, the central government, i.e. Beijing, is supposed to be responsible only for defence and foreign affairs. Everything else should be under the jurisdiction of Hong Kong and its people. It is not clearly when the Basic Law lost its original meaning; perhaps direct elections and universal suffrage are now part of defence and foreign affairs.)

In other words, party secretaries and their acolytes at the provincial, district and municipal levels get their Mandate from Heaven and govern for all. Their power is boundless it includes natural resource management, migration controls, housing demolition and the trigger-happy use of police. This is their daily bread.

I deeply believe there are good and honest people inside the Communist Party, and that there are more than a few. But there also are wicked ones, stupid and careless people who persecute and exploit the Lao Bai Xing s of this world, and they too are more than a few. Similarly, inside the Politburo some members are good, some are bad.

But one can surmise that with the Communist system governing everything democracy and the rule of law have no place. Such a system turns those in power in God-like figures. It turns cowards into demons. But above all it is a system that will always deny ordinary people full citizenship. For me this is the most important aspect to come out of this third truth.

How can we get out of this? Quoting the Provincial Party secretary, Xinhua said that one solution lies in strengthening the powers of the Disciplinary Commission. I do not think this is a way out. If Mao were still alive today, he too would not believe it.

In 1945, Huang Yanpei [6] asked him: How can we avoid corruption when the party takes over? Did Mao respond by saying we have the Disciplinary Commission? I think not. Instead he Mao said: We have democracy. Indeed democracy is the way out, but the real question is Do we have democracy? When did we have it? Can you sirs, who wave Mao s portrait, really tell me when we had democracy?

When keeping up appearances is more important than the truth and the slogan serving the people [7] is more important that the people itself, officials will be aware that only the Party s Disciplinary Commission is above them. Under such circumstances there will be no place for concepts like the people or the law .

This is why Zhao Ziyang, who said that problems must be solved along the "path of democracy and the Law, was condemned by some for provoking a schism within the party and favouring unrest. This is what one might Chinese-style truth . Wu Hu![8]

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The Chinese Army could pull another Tiannemen Square stunt in the middle of the games and the IOC would still dutifully announce at the end of the games that "These were the greatest Summer Olympics ever!" 

Somebody at the IOC got paid off big time to get these games in Beijing. I guess Johannesburg, South Africa didn't have enough money during apartheid to pay off Juan Antonio Samaranch or they would have been held in SA while Mandela was still in prison.

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