The Post-Olympics Plight in China
by Jin Zhong
The Beijing Olympic Games have come to an end. As critics of the much fawned-over event, we present our special feature “Scoring the Beijing Olympics” to justify our criticism. Totalitarian governments are good at leveraging absolute power to create scenes of great momentum and passion to ignite the crowd and deceive the whole world. Such a government is the embodiment of populism. The Beijing government has been adopting and optimizing this kind of artifice since the establishment of the PRC. It would certainly never miss the heaven-sent opportunity to demonstrate that artifice through the Olympic Games. Besides the strict controls imposed before and after the Games, the two mass productions for the opening and closing ceremonies also reflected official ideology and Zeitgeist.
The tradition embodied in the musical epic “The East Is Red” in 1964, with Zhou Enlai as the “Chief Director,” still exists in today’s China. It is all a means to barely or cunningly distort art into a political tool. At that time the whole country was just recovering from the dire famine that had caused millions of deaths, but the people were still moved by the dictatorship’s whitewashing production. Two years later, China’s teenagers were marching onto the battlefield of the Cultural Revolution singing songs from “The East Is Red.” A number of “red hot scenes” with casts of millions took place at Tiananmen. When the tyrant appeared, the people burst into thunderous applause, whooping “Long live!” with excitement…Today, China is becoming stronger with a flourishing economy. It is thus able to varnish over its evil deeds with spectacular fireworks, high-tech effects and sensory stimulation, accompanied by Mao’s theme song “Ode to the Motherland” performed by teams of stalwart soldiers. To consolidate China’s political power through such a deceptively grand performance is a piece of cake. While athletes were enjoying the delicious food and fine service from Chinese beauties, the Oriental-style lavishness spread a veil of silence over the country’s problems, such as human rights conditions, violation of the principles of the Games and suppression of press freedom.?
This issue of Open Magazine reports on the cost of the Games, a record-breaking astronomical figure that sensitive compatriots have expressed concern about. These people are the best informed about the poor, backward and extremely unjust conditions in China in terms of education, hygiene, environmental protection and housing. They have no vote, no right to voice their opinions and no legal protection. They have no choice but to merely express their criticism from the background. Increasing government restrictions have prompted numerous protest campaigns by dissident groups and independent commentators overseas, who have become the source and basis of calls for a boycott and criticism of the Beijing Olympic Games.
With the prestige China gains from the Olympic Games, well-meaning people hope that the authorities might implement some needed reforms to the obviously conservative aspects of the political system. However, it is already overwhelmingly clear that the Beijing Games will not cause the government to change China’s outmoded and perplexing system, but rather will reinforce its inflexible structure. The authorities are buoyant -- the success of the Games has resulted in even more consolidated power. Supported by strong economic power, the government has built up an unimaginable advantage similar to that in the Mao era. Beyond high-handed governance, some conciliatory measures were also adopted to meet demands inside and outside of China and to brainwash the elites, who in turn brainwashed the public. This has helped diversify the United Front and secret agent system, which has blanketed the world to reach its target more effectively.
The leaders in Zhongnanhai have been unable to conceal their elation over the way the West’s bedazzlement and approval of China’s spellbinding trickery as it willingly fell hostage to shared interests.
The plight that China’s rights defenders will face after the Beijing Games should never be underestimated.
28th August 2008, Hong Kong
(Translated by Isabella Lam)