Recently, it seems China and its upcoming Olympics have been making all the news, for both the right and wrong reasons. I still remember how bad the air in Beijing was when I first visited in 2005. My nose snot was black after four days. Hence I was pleased to hear how the Chinese Government bent everyone else backwards in their process of cleaning up the environment, sorting out their taxis etc. I do not like how everyone else (pro-Tibetians, environmentalists, human rights activists and even Uigher Muslim militants) is hitching a free ride on this noble event and making this their ‘marketing’ platform for the month. But then again, when did what I like or dislike ever mattered? I’m too insignificant a fry for the likes of the omnipotent Chinese Government.
Unbeknownst to us, this same Government appears to have been taking steps to put the world on (circus) stage, not so much for the world (as it has been on most occasions), but for the viewing pleasure of their billion-odd denizens.
- Visa applications to enter China by foreigners are next to impossible under the guise of pre-Olympics security.
- Existing foreigners in China who choose to stay during the Olympics period are made to jump through additional hoops and untangle a crazy amount of red tape.
- Anecdotally sources have indicated that every province in China have been asked (and given a quota) to send representatives to view the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Points one plus two plus three gives me the impression that the Chinese Government is putting the entire world and every countries best athletes on stage, as if they’re circus animals for the viewing pleasure of their people. The media will continue to get their field day, albeit with fences additional monitoring equipment installed at every network node with outbound telecommunications traffic.
Arguably China’s best film director Zhang Yimou has spent the past three years trying to distill 5,000 years of Chinese history into a 3½-hour opening ceremony on 08.08.08 with an expected cast of 10,000. Pity the South Koreans had to pour some cold water on that.
Despite that, I’m pretty sure the world’s going to get a stunning display of China’s supremacy and coming-of-age come triple-08 – the next time we’re getting that date’s a thousand years on, on August 8, 3008. The following weeks of intense competition will put the world on show, across hundreds of millions of television screens, to over a billion pair of Chinese eyes.
Ahhh…nothing like an Olympics to unite the nation like never before, apart from when Qin Shihuang united all of China with his troops, language and metric systems.
Who really watches the watchers?