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China to World: “Fuck U. Kthanxbai.”

04 Apr

Wow. When I began writing this post, in response to this one by Gagan, I had a short, pithy little one in mind. Instead, I wound up with a list as long as my arm. Consider this: in the past few months alone the following events have taken place around the upcoming Beijing Olympics

Event: Steven Spielberg says goodbye and no-thank-you to the Beijing Olympics.

Cause: Spielberg signed on in an advisory capacity for the Olympics to do… sport-type things? Maybe he was hoping to tie in the latest Indiana Jones installment with it. However! Stern editorials from the likes of Mia Farrow casting him as the Leni Reifenstahl of our age (oh, snap!) made him bow out at the nth hour.

Effect: The Genocide Olympics, as Farrow calls it, will take place. But Steven “ulterior motives” Spielberg shouldn’t apply for a shooting permit in China anytime soon.

Event: Desmond Tutu to join boycott.

Cause: China’s support to Burma’s military regime. Remember how everyone was so outraged when the monks were being beaten up and democracy strangled? Here’s what happened to the campaign against it when you weren’t looking.

Effect: What is this word? I do not understand it.

Event: George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Joey Cheek and Tegla Loroupe among others went on a diplomatic mission to discuss Darfur with Chinese leaders.

Cause: Clooney and Cheadle are leading members in the battle to stop the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. While Sudan doesn’t have any major links with America (thus making the threat of sanctions an empty one), China is their major client for oil, their arms supplier and their ally in the UN Security Council. The one, two punch Hollywood + Olympic athletes delegation was meant to remind them that with superpowers come super responsibilities.

Effect: “Oh, yes! Batman and Robin, very funnee movie! Goodbye, come again!”

Event: Nobel laureates publish letter in British newspaper, The Guardian.

Cause: Sign the treaty that Russia and the US refuse to sign! What is it? Well, it was

a British-championed resolution setting out a timetable for the creation of a legally binding treaty on the sale of weapons. The resolution says: “The absence of common international standards on the import, export and transfer of conventional arms is a contributory factor to conflict, displacement of people, crime and terrorism.”

Effect: Um, yeah.

Event: Are you done with all this wearying genocide in Africa talk? Well, good, because now we can talk about the environment.

Cause: The Olympics are occasionally about sport, so heads turned when the very air registered a protest. Turns out, breathing the air in Beijing resembles asphyxiation, it might well rain unless China brings its super powers into play and controls the freaking weather, and what little water there is to drink in the city might very well kill you.

Effect: The Chinese have taken a series of measures that might never have worked in any other country in the world. It just might be enough.

Event: Want a little man candy to leaven things up? Okay – George Clooney leans on Olympics sponsor Omega.

Cause: Clooney is brand ambassador for Omega, Omega is official sponsor for the Beijing Olympics, Beijing told Clooney to run along and play, Clooney sicced Omega on them.

Effect: Omega is very concerned and likes the fact that its brand ambassador has high standards but sport is a “noble endeavor” that creates “understanding and peace all over the world” so saying anything to China would be… how does one put it? Ah yes, impossible. Wow, that came as a complete surprise to me.

Event: Masahisa Tsujitani, a short put manufacturer whose short puts were used in the past three summer Olympics, boycotts Beijing.

Cause: He didn’t like Chinese crowd behavior at the 2004 Soccer Asia Cup. For reals.

Effect: You’ll just have to live with another brand of short put. You’ve been warned!

Event: Everybody gets mad about Tibet!

Cause: If you don’t know about the China-Tibet tensions then you obviously never listen to more news than you can help. China accused the Dalai Lama of fomenting civil unrest in Tibet or Chinese territory as they call it, Richard Gere jumped in to defend his honor, Nancy Pelosi thumbed her nose at the Chinese and the Indian government told the Dalai Lama to shut up, thus shocking many well-meaning Indians who don’t seem to get the fact that India is walking a very fine line that it will never cross as long as Kashmir remains in dispute.

Effect: China says this is the work of the Dalai clique to stop the Olympics. The ordinary Chinese, on the other hand, want to know why their government isn’t more aggressive. Nicholas Krsitof uses the word “wimpish“.

Event: The Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions raised an outcry about the 1.5 million people it estimates will be displaced by China’s plans for Beijing.

Cause: Wikipedia says

The Beijing municipal authority has declared that more than 70 local laws and decrees would be made before the 2008 Summer Olympics which would banish local people who don’t have hukou (residency permits) of Beijing. It would also banish vagrants, beggars, and people with mental illness from the city. The municipal authority also made it clear that it would strengthen border control, call for a “special holiday”, or forcible shutout, to make Beijing citizens stay at home during the Olympics. It also seeks to strengthen controls over Chinese and foreign NGOs and forbid any protests during the games. The government has also strengthened its laws relating to prosecution of those deemed to be disseminating material not beneficial to the state.

Oh, and if you’re Chinese and you use any of the brand new toilets before the visitors have had a chance to use them, you’ll have to pay a fine between 100 to 500 yuan. Coz the Chinese are apparently not hygienic enough for their own toilets.

Effect: First of all, WTF?! Secondly, uh, I don’t really think anybody other than the Chinese themselves can stop any of that from happening. And good luck with that!

Event: Uighur uprising.

Cause: Religious freedom. As in, they say they don’t have any. China begs to differ. Impasse.

Effect: I’m surprised we even heard about this one.

Overall Event: A bunch of people, including Angela Merkel and the Japanese Royal family, have excused themselves from attending the opening ceremony. More are expected to join. Or not. People are still mulling it over.

Overall Cause: Nobody likes China. But it has lots of money.

Overall Effect: China welcomed home the Olympic torch in a glittering ceremony held at one of its most famous spots… Tiananmen Square.

Excuse me, but – BWAHAHAAHA!!! The Chinese ought to write a book on how best to raise the middle finger. But the question is: what will they do if these protests break out in the middle of the Games? Or do they propose to pen up the Uighurs and the Tibetans and the foreign journalists and the visitors until everything gets over? That should be interesting. And it would truly be an Olympics unlike any other.

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6 Comments

Posted by on April 4, 2008 in Newsmakers, Politics, Video

 

6 responses to “China to World: “Fuck U. Kthanxbai.”

  1. sidekick

    April 5, 2008 at 1:09 am

    amrita, i think the business victories are the ones that add punch to the tale – e.g. Google and Mattel caving into China in abject fashion. It’s old fashioned economic might that allows China to hold firm and show the world the finger.

    i’m conflicted abt the beijing olympics boycott . i can see yr point but at the same time i’m not sure going there will get the issues (tibet/sudan) any play – any internal revolts will be quietly and ruthlessly crushed and as for the ones the visitors bring in – i think they will be politely bundled out as well. OTOH, a real and substantial boycott will deprive the chinese of the recognition and legitimacy they crave as a world superpower – unveiling bejing to the world, sweeping the medals, dazzling visitors : all signs of having arrived at the summit.

    what shocks me most is that at some sneaky level i can track the china logic. it’s a tough world and no one has handed them advantages. they’ve built the economic superstructure the hard way and in the jungle you seize power any way you get it. in no way does that justify enabling the genocide. having followed kristof’s darfur reports fm the start that just seems callous, but i can see the might is right principle. not a just or scalable comparison, but in some tiny way, it’s like when i gloat abt india’s ability to call the shots in the cricketing world bcos we control the moolah. even when india acts like an ugly bully, somehow there is some sense of retribution for years of having played the hapless underling! at times like these, i don’t like looking in the mirror šŸ˜¦

     
  2. DesiGirl

    April 5, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I like this one where Aamir Khan said that he wasn’t too keen on China being such a total prat where Tibet is concerned and then saying that will not really have any effect on his decision to take the flame and running with it. Good call, bro!

     
  3. Gagan

    April 6, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Amrita. Glad u put it in edgier terms. Been in an apolotic state of mind lately ( translation = lazy) protests are definitely in order, but its kind of far from my experience rite now. only get the sport. But picking up. Been immersed in a lot of French media and they are lot more spirited about the subject. English reporting is detached too…can’t get a good sense of how bad it is for the Tibetans. This story gave me an idea and made me feel guilty http://www.metamute.org/en/report-from-chengdu

     
  4. Amrita

    April 7, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Sidekick – oh, absolutely spot on about economic might! I think thats where China has played its cards most cleverly coz you just can’t piss off someone this crucial to the world economy the way you can an Iran or a Cuba.

    Re: the Olympics, I think this is the first real chance that anyone has had at getting China to pay any attention and everyone is jumping at it in unison. So it’s pretty much open season for every cause out there with China in the middle. And what it’s beginning to do, is not so much get the Chinese to play ball, but resemble a witch hunt. I’m all for activism, but right now it’s like a mob descending on China’s head and I don’t see it going anywhere.

    You’re also spot on about the might is right feeling and the India-China parallel imo. The Chinese have the same sense of being humiliated and dictated to – probably more than India in fact – and they carry their chip on their shoulder a lot more clearly than Indians do. Globalization has its drawbacks but its has put a number of us on playing fields we formerly only got to watch – and we’re playing the game the way we’ve seen it played and it’s really sort of horrible… and satisfying as you put it.

    DG – Aamir is beginning to annoy me. In more ways than one. šŸ˜¦

    Gagan – Thanks for the link šŸ™‚ It’s amazing how activist the French are really on a global scale. I never quite got it until a year or so ago. I don’t think it’s lazy to be a little detached – or at least, thats what I tell myself when I curl up with a book instead of marching in the streets! I’m certainly not one of those people who think everyone must feel equally strong for every cause. In theory that’s a fair way of looking at it, but in practice, it’s just silly – one feels what one does for certain things and not others.

     
  5. M

    April 8, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Amrita,

    interesting that the protests seem to be gathering the right kind of attention now, especially after the ruckus in France with the torch being extinguished several times…I under SF police are very concerned now.

    M

     
  6. Amrita

    April 9, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    M – is it just me or was it just plain fucking weird how the french kept extinguishing the flame every time they so much as looked at a crowd? I think even our delhi police would do better than that.
    SF police should be concerned! I hear they were climbing the bridge yesterday. I look forward to catching up with the news cycle today.
    Oh and have you heard about the Chinese guards for the torch? Apparently everyone hates them too.

     
 
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