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Phayul[Friday, September 26, 2008 00:56]

A Tibetan friend in Switzerland passed on this bit of revelation to me. He had been watching the conclusion of the Beijing Games on German TV (ZDF) and noticed that when they sung the national anthem the lyrics didn’t quite seem to match the translation that appeared on the giant screen.  He managed to make out a portion of the translated text “… let us fight for freedom, world peace and democracy”. My friend asked me if the Chinese national anthem made any references to such exalted ideals. I was able assure him that it absolutely did not. Some years ago I had written an essay and a follow-up piece on the Tibetan national anthem (and the national flag) and had compared our old elegiac national anthem, Ramparts of Snow (Gangri Rawae) to the Chinese Communist one, The March Of The Volunteers (Yìyǒngjūn Jìnxíngqǔ) which is just a relentless, us-against-everyone-else paean to xenophobia and violence. Here is the text of the Chinese anthem:

Arise! All who refuse to be slaves!
Let our flesh and blood become our new Great Wall!
As the Chinese nation faces its greatest peril,
All forcefully expend their last cries.
Arise! Arise! Arise!
Our million hearts beat as one,
Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
March on! March on! On!

Nothing about democracy or peace you will note— or truthfulness, for that matter. Tsewang Norbu la from Germany confirmed the story for me and mentioned that German journalists had noticed the inconsistency between the sung lyrics and the text, since they had been given printed versions of the translated texts. He sent me this link to the ZDF story that those of you speaking German may want to check out.

The Paralympics started in Beijing on the 6th of September. According to most reports it was a great success, but this story in the South China Morning Post discussed a bizarre regulation that was enforced during this event.  All foreign volunteers, doctors, physiotherapists who were helping to take care of disabled Chinese orphans were told to stop their daily visits to three state-run institutions in and around Beijing.

Among those asked to stay away was a Hong-Kong based charity whose directors said they were acting on orders after visits from Public Security Bureau. These foreign volunteers were vital to the running of the orphanages and for caring for the disabled children, since there was little full-time staff at these institutions. The volunteers helped with rehabilitation, exercises and general care such as applying cream for diaper rash to babies and toddlers, and renovating bedrooms, playrooms and bathrooms. Without such volunteers and professional help these children suffered and their conditions worsened.

Even medical operations to ease pain and correct disfigurements, paid for with charitable funds, were also stopped, for the duration of the Games.

One volunteer who had been visiting the Langfang orphanage - home to 25 disabled children, 40km outside Beijing in Hebei province - for more than four years, said “Since just before the Olympics, we have been forbidden from visiting the orphanages.”  He said the ban was a result of a society where disability is still regarded as a source of shame. “The government sees disabled people and disabled orphans as an embarrassing problem, which they don’t know how to deal with.”

A recent report by Michael Sheridon in The Times (London) contended that millions of Chinese, especially farmers, suffered when they had to give up their water for the Olympics. Officials in Beijing anticipating at least 500,000 visitors to the Games started a gigantic project to divert the waters from the Yangtze to Beijing in a “100 day struggle” to build almost 200 miles of channels and pipes to the capital.

Also closer to Beijing, four strategic reservoirs in Hebei, around the city of Baoding, were filled to the brim with all the available water in the area, probably from underground aquifers, which probably were to be replenished when the Yangtze waters flowed north. But then irrigation channels ran dry, subterranean water levels fell, wells collapsed, fields were abandoned and people were forced to leave their farms and villages. One source claimed that price of water went up 300%. Farmers could grow nothing. “Before, we dug a well two meters deep and got water. Now we dig 10 metres deep and get nothing,” a farmer complained.

It now appears that when the uprising in Tibet led to world-wide protests during the Olympic torch relay and calls for a boycott of the Games, it became clear to authorities that the number of visitors to Beijing would be far fewer than expected. So the government abandoned their ambitious plans and left the formerly rich agricultural region in Hebei with miles of half-finished canals and dry reservoirs. Farmers became indebted to moneylenders, others committed suicide by drinking pesticide.

Instead of attempting to relieve the plight of the hapless and beggared farmers the authorities resorted to repression. Sheridon (author of Empire of Lies) on a visit to Baoding noticed that the authorities had deployed an extraordinary number of policemen and paramilitary forces in the area. He writes “Armed police checked cars at 10 points along one road to a reservoir. At each stop, a banner proclaimed “Olympic Security Checkpoint”, although the Games themselves were more than 100 miles away. Posters offered a reward of more than £7,000 for ‘special Olympic information’ given to the Public Security Bureau.”

Sheridan’s conclusion: “The water scandal is a parable of what can happen when a demanding global event is awarded to a poor agricultural nation run by a dictatorship; and the irony is that none of it has turned out to be necessary.”

The number of infant victims of the tainted milk-powder products is over 60,000 now, and it appears that many children in Lhasa and throughout Tibet have been affected. Reportedly, Chinese authorities knew about the contaminated milk powder in early August and chose to allow the babies to keep drinking the toxic products to avoid negative coverage during the Olympic Games. The story from Phoenix TV came via dwnews.com and was translated by China Digital Times.

Chinese author Qin Geng said that “When it happened on Aug. 2, they kept the lid on, until Sept. 1, For a whole month, it was covered up, which showed that they had an awareness of the big picture, and they obeyed their superiors’ intention. The big picture in this case was the interest of one-party rule above anything, not that they would put the safety of the people first. In order not to interfere with the ongoing Olympics, the authorities would rather let thousands of babies drink tainted milk for a month and gag the media reporting on the incident.”

Qin Geng concluded that the Chinese public was very saddened, very frightened and very concerned that state-controlled media seemed to be saying that the contamination process was a “differentiated” and well-thought out action. “They say that exported milk products didn’t have this problem, that dairy products specially supplied for Olympics didn’t have this problem and those produced after the 14th didn’t have this problem. Which is to say, adding melamine was a human-controlled process that had certain rules and standards.”

While the people grapple with this latest tainted food crisis, the political elite are served the choicest, safest delicacies. They get hormone-free beef from the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, organic tea from the foothills of Tibet and rice watered by melted mountain snow. Check out this rage-provoking report in the Economic Times.

To conclude, will all those who supported, or expressed support, for China hosting the Olympic Games, please raise your (very large) glasses of toxic milk, belt out a hearty “Gan Bei!” , and knock it all back — down to the dregs.
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