By Jamyang Norbu
As the Beijing Olympics comes to a close there are probably not many people on this planet who have not heard, read about, or witnessed the series of lies, deceptions, scams, manipulations, control-operations, and cruelties that the Communist Chinese authorities perpetrated during the Olympic Games in Beijing. In fact there were so many that it might be a good idea to list them all down since I am sure that most people have overlooked one or two, or forgotten a few, if they were noting them to begin with.
First of all we had the spectacular computer generated giant “footprints” that were “added” to television broadcast of the firework display at the opening ceremony.
Did you know that the one thousand or more massed drum-performers at the ceremony were all PLA soldiers and members of the wujing or armed police? Probably on rotation or R & R from torturing people or shooting them in the back in Tibet or East Turkestan.
Then there was the annoyingly perky nine-year-old, Lin Miaoke, portrayed as singing the “Ode to the Motherland”, while in fact she was lip-synching to a recorded version sung by a girl who was deemed less attractive, the seven year old Yang Peiyi. If he was watching this on TV the real Panchen Lama (under house arrest in Beijing) might have had a deja vu kind of moment.
Ai Weiwei, the original designer of the Birds Nest stadium, and one of the very rare Chinese of any artistic or intellectual stature who still has a mind of his own, said that “the ceremony deceived and humiliated its six hundred million spectators”. In 2007 he condemned Zhang Yimou and Steven Spiegel for choreographing the opening ceremony, and accused them of moral failure in not living up to their responsibility as artists.
One of the events in the opening ceremonies was a procession of children bearing a large Chinese flag into the stadium, each child wearing a costume representing one of China’s “ethnic minorities”. Actually the children were all Chinese. Minorities were probably considered too barbaric or too troublesome for such a task. One of them might have shouted “Bhod Rangzen!”.
Actually it could just be that there were no “minorities” left in Beijing. We know that nearly every Uighur and Tibetan had been kicked out of Beijing, not just students and visitors but even the poor amala selling trinkets at the subway station. Tsering Shakya’s neice, Lhamo Pemba, was expelled even though she was a British national and had a visa and residential permit. We also know that transient labourers, out-of town petitioners and many other Chinese had all been forced to leave the capital.
But let’s not make too much of that, after all even Joey Cheek, an Olympian Gold Medalist speed skater, and activist, had his visa revoked because he spoke out against China’s sponsorship of genocide in Darfur. If Olympic Gold Medalists can’t attend the Olympic Games then who can?
While on the subject of activists we should note that Beijing human rights activist Zeng Jinyan disappeared on the eve of the Opening Ceremony. A number of other Chinese dissidents and activists appear to have suffered the same fate including Ji Sizun, a lawyer. A friend claimed that even the telephone line in her apartment had been disconnected. They disappeared, just like that. Like the desaparecidos in South America in the seventies.
According to Reporters Without Borders, 22 foreign journalists were attacked or arrested during the Games. At least 50 human-rights activists were arrested, harassed, or forced to leave Beijing.
All Beijing hospitals were ordered to lock up their psychiatric wards. Patients were not allowed outside during the period of the Olympics. The authorities might have done this for cosmetic reasons. A New York Times report noted the absence of old people in Beijing during the Games. But there could be a direct security connection, as many hundreds (possibly even thousands) of dissidents, labour-organizers, Falun Gong members, and others have been committed to special state-run psychiatric institutions called Ankang, where according to Human Rights Watch they are treated with drugs, electric shocks and psycho-surgery (possibly even pre-frontal lobotomies) to cure them of their anti-social behaviour.
On to the actual games. There were reports that at least three Chinese gymnasts, including the gold-medalist He Kexin, were under the required age of sixteen. A computer security expert for the New York-based Intrepidus Group, performed a detailed forensic search for He’s age that confirmed the growing accusations. What is interesting is that the US Olympic Committee is not asking for an investigation. If He Kexin and other were disqualified on an age basis the US would have much to gain but it seems that no one wants to upset the Chinese hosts.
In the individual women’s competition the American gymnast Nastia Liukin had the same exact score as He Kexin but ended up with the silver due to a “very complicated voting procedure.” So complicated that no one in the public was really informed how that decision was made. The Americans kept quiet on this one also. The Bible says somewhere that “the borrower is a slave to the lender”.
Brazilian pole-vaulter Fabiana Murer said Olympic officials lost her pole during the finals at the Bird’s Nest stadium, costing her a chance to compete for a medal. She was clearly one of the likely medal winners on the basis of the heat results. Murer says she’s ‘never coming back to China’. This could have been screw-up by officials, and on the whole China’s athletes have, according to most reports, been sporting and well-behaved. Its specially admirable when you have to consider what some of them have to go through in life.
The New York Times published a couple of articles about the many professional athletes in China who were performing under compulsion. Such gold medalist as canoeist, Yang Wenjun — the son of peasant rice farmers, and Ma Pengpeng, a provincial rower from Handan City, were recruited compulsorily as children. They were deprived of an education in order that they dedicate their entire life to train for the sport that the authorities had chosen for them. There were other stories of gold medalist weight lifters dying of poverty and disease, and other washed-out athletes dumped like garbage after their usefulness to the state had ended. Another article reported on the unusually high incidence of injuries sustained by China’s athletes because of compulsory overtraining. This is not to say the West does not have it own problems with sports and athlete’s health, but the extreme degree of compulsion and state-control over the careers, even lives, of athletes is another thing altogether.
To backtrack a bit. There appears to be an on going discussion about the authenticity of the Chinese summit of Mt Everest with the Olympic torch back in May. There are serious charges that it was faked. The Chinese made sure that every foreigner, even on the Nepalese side of Everest was kicked out, including the BBC team camped out in Khumbu to cover the event. Even foreign journalists who had earlier been invited to record China’s great victory found their invitations revoked at the last moment. The Everest torch team of thirty people did not have a single non-Chinese journalist or outside observer. According to Nepalese blog, Blogdai, a most compelling evidence of the fakery seemed to come from the official footage of the alleged summit, as released to the western media. No old, faded prayer flags that mark the summit and have been known to stay in place for a few seasons or more. A complete lack of visual reference points – specific peaks, ridges and other things in the background. Climbers too chatty for the altitude, etc., etc. One theory is that the Olympic torch wouldn’t light on the summit in May, so they simply enacted the great moment for the cameras further down the mountain.
About a week into the Games came the revelation that a 21-point instruction list had been issued by the authorities to all Chinese journalists, itemizing the kinds of negative reporting they were to refrain from during the Olympics. The list was revealed at an IOC (International Olympic Committee) press conference, but the IOC spokesman denied knowing anything about this and questioned the authenticity of the list. As a part of the deal for Beijing hosting the Games the Chinese government had agreed to allow press freedom not only to foreign but to Chinese journalists as well.
We should remember that China had also guaranteed the freedom of speech to its citizens as well, for the Olympics. Everyone now knows of the infamous official “Protest Zones” that were set aside by the authorities during the Olympics, where people would be allowed to protest and demonstrate. And we also know that those Chinese who applied for permission to protest (77 applications) were not only all refused but many applicants were even arrested. But surely the decision by the authorities to sentence two frail grandmothers, Wu Dianyuan, 79, and Wang Xiuying, 77, to a one year “re-education through labour” (láojiào) for applying to protest, must be regarded as the most extraordinary of the many inhuman, heavy handed and repressive actions taken during the Olympics. AFP said that Wang and Wu would be allowed to serve their sentences at home, but would be sent to a labour camp if they caused further trouble.
Wang and the nearly blind Wu were just two of the 1.5 million men, women, and children whose homes in Beijing were bulldozed to make room for the construction of Olympic facilities and urban beautification projects. According to a Boston Globe column “To clear them out, the Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions found, Chinese authorities resorted to “harassment, repression, imprisonment, and even violence.” Demolitions and evictions frequently occurred without due process. Many dispossessed residents were not compensated; those who were usually received a fraction of the amount” – as in the case of our two grannies.
The Boston Globe’s “China’s totalitarian games” appears to be a part of a growing expression of outrage and condemnation that the world press is finally allowing itself to make about China’s repressive and untrustworthy regime and the International Olympic Committee’s disgustingly self-serving pusillanimity. Also check out The New York Times editorial “Beijing’s Bad Faith Olympics”. Is this all just a temporary phenomenon? Will everyone just shove their snouts back in the China trough, once the novelty of moral indignation has worn off? I hope not. Perhaps this time the cracks in Beijing’s facade are just too many and too wide to be papered over that easily. If the awareness does hold, then the the IOC must, in a sense, be thanked for unwittingly performing this service for freedom and democracy. By awarding the Games to China and by allowing the Chinese authorities every opportunity to indulge in their lies and oppression, they alerted the world to the inherently deceitful and evil nature of Communist China.
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