Post-Olympic Thoughts, part 1
There is a reason I rarely venture outside the world of entertainment blogging, I’ll have you know. On the bright side, I have stuck to fairly innocuous paragraph lengths (nothing to make you go blind here) and tried to make it as reader friendly as possible. Slight profanity, as well as some flexing of the cynic muscles.
Surprisingly (or perhaps not, given how well you know me), I have several issues with this year’s Olympics. They boil down to two rather messy rants, both of which you are free to skip – remember that this is my opinion, on my blog, in a world (well, half a hemisphere of it, anyway) that purports to extol free speech.
See, the basis of my gripe is that Beijing shouldn’t host the Olympics. Not now. (McCarthy-ists need not explode in joy, do read on.)
Before outraged people jump on me, I should probably let you know that I am Chinese (which means very little now – we’ve got Chinese people swearing themselves blind that letting Amurrikans run the country would make the world a better place), that I think it’s great China has the opportunity to show the world how awesome we are and of course, scoop some medals along the way.
That doesn’t mean it’s actually a good thing. No, listen to me. Do not just walk away from the screen and pretend you’ve never read this.
Let us take the event in the spirit it’s given, and look at the reasons the central government forwards:
1) It is good publicity for China.
2) We have progressed enough that this will mark our introduction to the globalized world.
3) The people need it.
Issue 1: Is it really good publicity for China?
The Tibetan separatists had their fun with the torch relay (which I will not comment on, beyond a raised eyebrow), and the Xinjiang separatists got a few bombs in, with extra journalistic pizzazz, since they both happened during a period of intense media scrutiny.
Once we made it past the torch relay, problems with journalists wanting to take a look at Amnesty International happened. Yes, I can understand the government not wanting negative or biased press. But I can’t imagine how this is, in any way possible, going to be viewed as ‘free, liberal press access’. And once you piss off the reporters, dude, you are cooked turkey. (Or in this case, allow me my joke, Beijing roast duck.)
Besides, let them call a spade a spade. Shit happens. Libel gets created. Live with it, unless you’re from a) Lalaland or b) Sir Edward Cullenland. (Case A proceed directly to asylum, case B, go back home and fuck your respective lifemate as appointed by SMeyer and don’t bother the adults.)
The great Firewall of China can block the most insidious bits of ‘seditious’ material, but since I still get porn ads on my drama search engines, I’m going to guess it needs a bit of work.
And then this issue of China’s ‘medal machine’ versus the much more innocent ‘all-American athlete’. (Note the alliteration. Some thought went into this, evidently, though not as much thought as it deserves.) The reporters, remember, are still allowed to posit their own opinions. Opinions are sneaky things. They leak through, even in unbiased sports reporting during medal counts. Even in blow-by-blow commentary.
Do remember that the Olympics, when we come down to it, is nothing but a pissing contest where countries get to test their virile youth against each other. (I believe in ancient Greece sometimes a show of strength was used to discourage attack.) If you think people are going to be nice to the Chinese just because we’re standing around giving them free chow mein, think again.
Issue 2: Progress? Global brotherhood? Really?
Progress is one of those words that will whore itself out to the highest bidder. Sometimes it even settles for whoever is cleanest and willing to pay. Now then, you’re going to say, Sevenses dear, you’ve gone off your nut if you think you can convince us China hasn’t moved ahead.
For laughing, no. Of course it has. It would be much more worrying if a powerhouse with 1/6 of the world’s population was unable to make any headway modernizing when it is trying so hard.
What I am talking about is real, solid progress. Not the amazing amount of skyscrapers that will make Shanghai sink into its own drying waterwell one day, nor the wealth pouring in like soil in a sinkhole. When was the last time China had an innovation of its own, something that was conceived, designed and manufactured without the help of parent companies from outside China?
To the best of my knowledge, the new Chinese cars (slated to hit N.A. markets sometime this fall!) are made with German or American blueprints. Pharmaceuticals are synthesized with directives from the companies themselves. We are the land of mass manufacturing, where creativity (another rather slutty word, but it is one of the more important things that hold a white-collar society together) is in rather short supply.
Without innovation, any society will stagnate. (Stagnation + corruption is bad, just in case you didn’t know.)
The current education system doesn’t help, though having people think outside the box could be worrying to a government that likes everything to be file-able, preferably under section 37-c of the Resources form.
In one sentence, this economic boom will last as long as our raw materials do.
(Of course, some bright young spark could start innovating. I mean, 1.4 billion people has to yield some sort of result, even if most of our Ph.Ds are living off the fat of beloved America.)
A friend of mine from Guangdong province disagrees with me, most vehemently on these points. The problem is, Guangdong is possibly the one place where all this growth has done nothing but butter the toast, and, excuse my generalization, its people are remarkably known for turning anything into a way of making money. (Illegal, what illegal?)
I, on the other hand, come from a relatively impoverished province, where coal and copper mining have basically ruined a lot more than people’s lungs. (Oh god, I could go on and on about the atrocities happening in China. I simply don’t have the time to list them all.) You’ll have to trust me when I say that my father’s descriptions of his poor village life is pretty much continued right now, with some of my relatives still trying to grow millet out of rocks. For them, this Olympics thing is just a lot of shouting on TV. (And of course, spending their money, but that’s covered in the next subsection.) They’re proud, but pride doesn’t feed the kids or send them to school.
(By the way, let’s settle, once and for all, this China-kills-innocent-babies crap. Urban + urban = one child. Rural + rural = two children. Rural + urban – depends on where you live. Only child + only child = two children. Rich person + anyone = go crazy, cause you can totally pay all the penalties and bribes – in fact, you can go on to marry several people, though this works best for the men. I’m not going to pretend bad things don’t happen in the interests of reinforcing these rules, but then human rights is in rather short supply globally. If you want to complain, bud, get in line.)
And let’s not forget the drain on our natural resources (it’s a good thing we hold lots of American debt, or I’d worry, but oh wait, THEY CAN DEFAULT), nor the worrying trend of cancer villages.
How can you shout progress in the face of all that?
And don’t give me that globalization shit.
When you are a globalized power, people sit up and notice. You do not, in fact, have to shout it from the rooftops. It’s like being six feet tall and walking around with a tape measure and yelling the fact at people. We know, just by looking at you, okay? So the best way to prove that you are powerful is just to be powerful. The rest will be taken care of by serious men in serious suits sitting in various boardrooms around the world.
Issue 3: It is needed. Now.
The people need it my foot. It would be more precise to say that the rich egomaniacs wanted it. Of course China is so well-off that we can afford to throw billions of dollars away (in USD, and not in Yuan, which is about 1/6 CAD, my readers are smart and can do the math, right?) on a lavish ceremony and a few sports facilities we’ll never extensively use again.
(Btw, it’s great that we’re celebrating the four ancient inventions and our 5000~ years of civilized pen-waving, but anything recent and earth-shattering? I hope you take my point.)
Well, you’ll say, the sports facilities aren’t going to disappear overnight. And you’d be right. But who would pay the hideously expensive fees to train in either the Stadium or the Water Cube? The government can house its own people there and accept that they built a really fancy training centre for its teams, and schedule the floods of tourists so they don’t interfere with practice. Okay.
But it’s still a lot of money, down the drain, that could have been put to better use. (For example, public sports infrastructure so people don’t have to pay through the nose to send their kids to exclusive sports schools. Or, you know, a better gym syllabus. It’s the central government. They can have every student from Liaoning to Xinjiang skipping rope for an hour each day and they know it.)
Don’t forget, I’m living in a city that paid off its debts for its own stint of Olympics-hosting thirty years after the fact. THIRTY YEARS. And they spent less than the Chinese. How much money is that, to wave goodbye to?
Have a song on credit: Welcome to Beijing, sung by a ton of artists.
This song encapsulates so much of what is wrong with our approach to this Olympics thing. Celebrities, look how they sparkle! And, of course, we’re willing to throw any amount of goodies at your way as long as you smile at us.
One part of the lyrics even says, ‘We’ll move heaven and earth to welcome you.’ YO, WTF PEOPLE PRIORITIES. The government is willing to WHAT? Take care of your own people first, and then come to me with your chants of superior hospitality.
Who is willing to bet with me that after this summer, Beijing will go back to its smoggy ways, with people spitting all over the streets?
Above all, I am just really concerned. I love my country of birth to bits and it is just so frustrating to see cretinous, verminous, grasping hogs repeating their mistakes ad nauseum. With 1.4 billion people living there, even a small error is the ruination of lots of lives.
My words of advice?
Do it when you’re crapping gold, not when 50% of your population is struggling to feed itself and achieve a basic living standard. I’m not trying to create trouble, I’m not looking for controversy. I’m just trying to tell everyone, yes, it’s great, we can spend money better than anyone else, but when the delegations go home, who’s going to clean up the mess?
Give it a few years, let the economy stabilize, feed the people, clean up the environment, kick all their (‘their’ translating, very often, and sadly, to ‘your’) corrupt asses, and then invite people in. Trust me, it will look better then.