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One of my good friends, a Chinese girl, just told me that she wants “to cry”. This, following the revelation that the IOC is considering suspending or cancelling the international leg of the torch relay (h/t to the Absurdity, Allegory, and China blog). Already, after the protests in London and Paris, this Olympic torch relay will go down in history as one of the most contentious. It’s too late to change it now.
I read a quote several weeks ago when the Tibetan unrest first began. I have searched for it since, but can’t seem to find it. It was from a Chinese government official who claimed that Beijing knew there would be protests during this Olympic year, but they didn’t know it would get this bad. If that’s the naivete that BOCOG and the Chinese government are working under, I can’t possibly fathom how this Olympic games will be a success.
There are such strong emotions on all sides, but I can’t help but feel everyone is aiming their grievances in the wrong directions. Chinese people, largely, feel like foreign powers are ganging up on them, once again, to keep them from succeeding. They feel like foreigners are trying to muddy China’s image and embarass them in their big moment. Because of this, chanting things like “Shame on China”, which occurred in London, is counterproductive and naturally leads Chinese people to become defensive. The more protests and pressure put on China, the more the Chinese people rally around to defend themselves. The more people criticize China, the more China gets its back up, and the more rigid it becomes.
This is a spiralling situation. Protests occur to force China to improve its human rights, but China becomes even more firmly entrenched. Protesters grow weary that they have little effect, and become more violent and vigilant. China becomes even more firmly entrenched. This powder keg will continue until it blows at some point, and probably sometime between August 8th and 24th.
The whole situation is quite sad, and I can’t help but feel the Chinese government bears the ultimate responsibility. It asked for the games and promised to improve its human rights in the process. It then ignored its own pledge. It then failed to foresee what a lightening rod the Olympics would become, when evidence of the controversy was right under its nose. It seems unprepared and surprised with what has transpired, and its lack of planning and foresight has tarnished the image of China and hurt the Chinese people. The Chinese government has always been good at dealing with foreign governments on a diplomatic level, but it is a bumbling amateur when winning the people outside of its borders.
Since arriving in China in 2004, my colleagues, friends, visitors, and people living in Canada have all mentioned at some time or another, that 2008 would be the year of the protests. Even people totally unfamiliar with China knew this was coming. So how did China drop the ball?

 
 

19 Comments

  1. bianxiangbianqiao says:

    For me the Olympics torch rally is already a success. That girl in the wheelchair in your picture, and those foreign thugs that must be manhandled by their own police, clearly demonstrate who is the civilized, and who are the Barbarians.

  2. Cam says:

    “Thug” is an interesting word choice. If you do a Google News search, you’ll see that many Britons and French people complained about Chinese “thugs” manhandling protesters.
    Not taking a position one way or the other, but interesting how both sides interpret the other.

  3. bianxiangbianqiao says:

    What are you sad about? Don’t be so morbid. The fun has just started. Here in the United States Chinese students have all got excited and mobilized. They are rushing to San Francisco from all over the country at this moment. There is a drive on MITBBS to find temporary housings for them. Think about the excitement, the passion and bonding that will grow out of fighting for a common cause. I am sure friends will be made and romantic relations will be formed in this movement. Those will be true patriotic friendships and revolutionary love. I say, let the storm come. Let it come strong. This is going to be a Chinese show and we are going to grow in it.

  4. cc says:

    Cam,
    Do you think this show would have been avoided if the Chinese government had kept “its own pledge”. I don’t think so.
    If you were the DL or a zealot of the FT movement, what would you have wished/planned? Exactly what is being performed, IMO. I would have done the same, if I were one of them.
    However, I am afraid that, within a fairly short period of time, they have really managed something miraculous apart from the performance itself, i.e. turning almost all of the Chinese (who identify themselves as Chinese), inside or outside of China, into their foes (with the help of the media, Chinese and western).
    Not many cards left in hand. Their short-term ultimate goal — boycotting the Beijing Olympics — if ever realized, would shut the door to their long term cause once and for all.

  5. XniteMan says:

    No, the Chinese people’s anger is not aimed at the wrong direction, and it’s the west that bears the ultimate responsibility.
    There are two kinds of people in the west. One is anti-China, against China’s economical success for their own interests. I blame the west for their existance. The other are human right advocates in their hearts, who truly want the human rights situation in China to become better. I blame the western propoganda for their failure to let these people know what China really is like (or success of deceiving them).
    The fact is, after the recent events, the political reform of China would probably become even slower. But it’s better than taking the risk of being manipulated by the west anyway.

  6. Mistah Kurtz says:

    Maybe I’m wrong…maybe it’s a silly idea…but maybe we could calm the situation and make rioting an Olympic event.
    Mistah Kurtz

  7. XniteMan says:

    cc,
    I don’t think they have any chance whatsoever. They are just doing what their western sponsors ask them to do.
    Seriously, do you think they have any chance of getting any higher level of autonomy for Tibet anyway? I don’t think so. They had a chance decades ago, but it was not their aim back then.

  8. cc says:

    XniteMan,
    “They are just doing what their western sponsors ask them to do.”
    Things are far more complicated than that.
    “Seriously, do you think they have any chance of getting any higher level of autonomy for Tibet anyway?”
    That could be achieved, but never through this kind of PR stunts where emotionalism rules, especially with regard to Chinese politics. Now, The dimmer switch is certainly turned in the “wrong” direction.
    Also remember, neither side is as monolithic as is described by the media propaganda/brainwashing (both Chinese and Western/FT).

  9. cc says:

    Mistah Kurtz
    I concur with your idea. I think it is worthwhile of creating an Olympic event — protest/demonstration. All sorts of activists should participate in this competition and see whose voice is louder and whose performance is more dramatic, imaginative and creative. After all, it is a game, isn’t it?

  10. XniteMan says:

    cc,
    lol, I don’t think they have anything on the bargain table. As you said, they don’t have many cards left, and anything they do could well be used by CCP to gain support from Chinese people.

  11. Pierre says:

    Why don’t the Chinese organize the torch run in Africa ? At least they should do it in the few countries that are friendly to them.

  12. cc says:

    Pierre,
    First, the torch does go to Africa, second, you think that the Chinese organiser alone can decide where the torch goes?
    The scenes in Paris are really ugly. However justified the FT zealots feel their cause is, what they are doing is beyond me. Attack after attack at a disabled girl on a wheelchair with a blind man helping her, for god sake. (Interesting to see how much we can see these scenes in western media in comparison with those eye-catching FT demonstation ones.)
    I see one message coming out this: the Free Tibet movement is the most urgent and holy cause on this planet, everything else in this world must make way for their freedom of speech.

  13. cc says:

    This is one of the scenes that I referred to
    http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/382/49785094sa0.jpg

  14. cc says:

    The girl is diabled with only one leg. The man behind is blind. The other girl beside couldn’t do much. The French police men around apparently were busy at protecting freedom-of-speech and were fasinated by the show anyway.

  15. ChunZhu says:

    The protests on both sides are ugly as all hell. I’ve been getting facebook invitations from both sides to join them in San Francisco. Both sides are self righteous, refusing to admit that they have any fault at all.
    Free Tibet ignores the deaths of the Han at the hand of the Tibetan rioters. The Chinese patriots refuse to acknowledge that the Tibetans grievances have any justification. Both sides see the other only as an enemy with no hope of reconcilliation.
    I guess Mutant Palm’s call for dialog between the two sides was a hopeless dream to begin with…

  16. Zhongnanhai says:

    Unraveling the torch relay ‘conspiracy’

    There’s been a lot of discussion on this blog and around the blogosphere in general about the protests surrounding the torch relay. And I have noticed an increasing amount of comments from people (mostly Chinese I’m presuming) who are now…

  17. SEBASTIAN says:

    I see one message coming out this: the Free Tibet movement is the most urgent and holy cause on this planet, everything else in this world must make way for their freedom of speech.
    ________________
    Good point! They wouldn’t like to give China a say!
    Why couldn’t we see clips of overseas Chinese supporting the torch relay on BBC???
    Why couldn’t we see the thug attack the Chinese torch bearer on mainstream western media???
    They are blind on purpose.

  18. Janus says:

    Oh my god, are Chinese really this paranoid, self-righteous, and nationalistic?

  19. bolelander says:

    Janus said:
    Oh my god, are Chinese really this paranoid, self-righteous, and nationalistic?
    They were not. Chinese are probably lower in the scale of patriotism and nationalism index than many countries. The CCP of PRC was finding it hard to balance many delicate internal problems and democratic awareness was gathering speed. But by western media selective reporting, bashing, and ignorant western peasant bitching, with by your self-righteousness and paranoia, you are doing quite a good job in stirring up the patriot and nationalist in them.
    I would say the PRC government is enjoying a free ride now. They getting MAJOR support from the populace they hadn’t had in years, thanks to your western self-righteousness and paranoia. You probably manage to hit the Chinese democratic movement backward for about 10 years.
    If you want to know how much you have helped the PRC Commie Party, read Lessons for America from China On Waking Sleeping Giants By DAVE LINDORFF
    http://www.counterpunch.org/lindorff04112008.html
    “like the Chinese, currently have little love for their repressive theocratic government, and little interest in nationalist heroics, not to mention little innate hostility towards America, and to turn them into super-patriots ready to fight and die for their country.”
    Bravo, the Commie Party love you western comrades. They are eternally grateful!