In keeping with the farce the Olympics usually are, a silly combination of nationalist pride and drug cheats, China has successfully taken the Olympics to a whole new level.
It was always the communist regimes aim to use this as a ‘coming out’ event and an attempt to show the world that China has ‘made it’. Quite where they’ve made it too is now becoming apparent.
Far from showing that the country is speaking in one voice as the ‘leaders’ demand everyone does, the past year has shown that in fact China is deeply divided.
Tibet isn’t part of China, and it’s citizens have demonstrated this pretty clearly, neither are the citizens of Xinjiang Provence rapt about being part of the communist parties one nation dream, as they are clearly demonstrating now. Displaced citizens of Beijing have been silenced, as were the thousands of people demanding answers to the questions raised by the high death toll of children in earthquake.
What’s striking is in fact how little control the regime actually has. After 1989 the regime has concentrated on distracting disgruntled citizens with personal wealth. But as more sophisticated governments in democracies know, this doesn’t usually cut it long term. Plenty of democratically elected governments get booted out because citizens feel annoyed, even if their material wealth has improved.
If this superficial control of Chinese citizens fails, then the regime is in deep trouble because they can’t hope to control such a vast country by force.
The Olympics have proven a useful distraction for the Chinese. A chance for everyone to bang on about feeling national pride and as is so often robotically repeated “show the world that we are an important nation” or more bluntly “China is great”.
The cracks are already starting to show with empty stands of events supposedly sold out, being filled with volunteers. It looks good to be able to claim events are sold out I guess, but clearly whoever decided that would be a smart idea didn’t think it through. Neither are they thinking when they fill the empty stands with people all dressed the same. The ‘faking’ of the opening ceremony firework footage and the dubbed singing because the little girl who could actually sing wasn’t ascetically pleasing, and the inevitable drug taking that will be going on (mostly undetected as I’m sure a pile of resources has been chucked in by the regime to ensure it won’t be detected) all combine to give you a pretty good picture of the state of things in China.
The empty stands say a lot. Frankly the rest of the world has got other things to worry about and the Olympics are a colourful by meaningless side show, it catches you attention for a few minutes but there is little to hold the attention for the entire performance.
In a weeks time it will be all over. The stadiums will stand empty, and China will be the same as it was before the billions of dollars were spent, families displaced without compensation, historical sites bulldozed and all the flash building (that will be dated and falling to bits in a few years time) put up. People’s behaviour and attitudes will be unchanged both in China and the rest of the world. Chinese people who do have access to views of the outside world (rather than the one that the regime wants them to see) will realise that all those billions of Yuan haven’t bought respect of admiration and may ask what the point of it was.
These Olympics are like a fake Louis Vuitton hand bag. It might look the part, but it won’t give you the same thrill. When people realise it’s not real you look like a twat, and consequentially it has none of the kudos or desired impact on third parties. Then when it falls to bits in a few months you realise that really it was a pointless exercise in the first place.