Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shades of the “Old China”

    The Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Beijing were supposed to be, some said, China's "coming out party. They were, so to speak, turning over a new leaf in China's history; where we could forget about global incidents like Tiananmen Square in 1989 and celebrate China's openness, not only to the athletes and spectators, but the global economy as well. China needed the Olympic Games to re- establish their global dominance they once had and welcome the world, both figuratively and literally, in order for then to see the "new China" they had built. The spectacular first impression they gave us was the Opening Ceremonies, starting with 2008 drummers beating their light drums in order to welcome us to the Games. Unfortunately, Russia invaded Georgia that night, but nothing could outshine the four hour spectacle that was the Opening Ceremonies. Since then, various controversies have sprung up involving China, which the communist Chinese government has downplayed. Since the Open, it has come out that some of the fireworks in the Opening Ceremonies were computer generated, whether or not the Chinese gymnasts are underage, and of course, The 9 year old girl, Lin Miaoke, who supposedly sang Ode to the Motherland was actually lip-synching.

    Audiences were captivated by the hundreds, maybe thousands, of fireworks that welcomed the world to the stadium called "The Bird's Nest." At first, the fact that some of the fireworks were computer generated didn't bother me a bit. As long as it looks cool, who cares, right? I mean, it might look different in Beijing, but no one knows except those actually in the stadium. After some thinking, and some—but not much—research, I found the whole scenario smelling fishy. From what I've found out, if a lot of fireworks go off simultaneously, like we saw in the Opening Ceremony or the steps leading up to The Bird's Nest, it would be impossible to see all of them. In other words, there would be a noise, but no flash of color that you usually see. Apparently, the Chinese government didn't want audiences –specifically American audiences—to hear the fireworks, but not see them. So, the Chinese government, who is censoring all media out of Beijing, grabbed hold of the main TV feed, and did some "touch- up" work. How they did this is beyond me, but this begs the question: Why would the Chinese be so concerned about appearances? I realize that they wanted it to look nice and perfect, but in a production as big as the Opening Ceremonies, who's going to notice something as small as a few fireworks?

    Of course, with—and even before—Team USA lost to team China there was much speculation that the Chinese gymnasts were under the age limit. The age limit rule, for all you non- gymnastics fans out there (of which I am one), states that a gymnast must be of age 16 within the calendar year the Olympics are being held. That is, a gymnast could be 15, if she is 16 before the end of 2008. That said, the Chinese gymnasts are still way underage (Remember, these are all my opinions). In fact, SI.com just released an article saying that the Chinese government had papers proving that gymnast He Kexin is underage. The AP found the papers on a Chinese website, the story says, and the next day when the AP went to investigate, the website was taken down. Yang Yilin, the youngest one in my opinion (again, these are all opinions), isn't even mentioned in the article.

    In Equestrian and Horse Racing, I know they age Horses by their teeth, why can't they do that in gymnastics? Not that I'm trying to de- humanize the Chinese gymnasts, that's not what I'm after at all. When do people loose all their baby teeth? Age 11, 12 maybe? If you'll took next time, Yilin is missing a couple teeth, presumably baby teeth. My brother just lost the same teeth, and he's 11. By that assumption, she's way too young to compete, but then, there's a lot of assuming there.

The age limit rule of 16 isn't just an arbitrary number; it's for safety more than anything. I'm not a girl, I've never been one, but I know I hit puberty around 14 or 15. So, say girls hit puberty around 16- makes sense, doesn't it? For one, 16 year olds look different from younger girls; the whole puberty thing, a girl's hips get wider and all that, they just don't look like younger girls. For two, when you're 16 (and we go off the assumption that 16= puberty), you fear more. That's why you see little kids jump off of everything and anything, fall down, and do it again. Your sense of risk comes in to play, which is, I think, why the Chinese gymnasts are fearless, they're sense of risk hasn't kicked in yet. Oh, there's one more thing: it really doesn't matter if the Chinese are underage, because the Chinese government can edit their citizen's birth certificates.

One highlight of the Opening Ceremony was Lin Miaoke, the adorable nine year old who sung
Ode to the Motherland at the Opening Ceremony. From what I've found out, the Chinese government held an "American Idol" style contests in order to pick the singer at the Ceremony. The winner of the contest was seven year old Yang Peiyi, but she was quickly dismissed by the Chinese as "not cute enough." In the words of the Chinese, she was described as having "a chubby face and crooked baby teeth." So, another contest was held by the government, this one a beauty pageant, and the winner, nine year old Lin Miaoke. Here's the cruelest part: they told Lin Miaoke that she was going to sing! So, she was singing, though it was Yang Peiyi's voice that everyone herd. The Chinese government played it off as though two families would get the glory of being in the Opening Ceremonies instead of one, and maybe that's true, but I think it's pretty cruel to undermine and use a nine year old's innocence to a country's advantage.

So, how is the "new China" shaping up? Could be better, in my opinion. Like the "old China" that was supposedly left in the past, China reminds us once again that they have both feet firmly planted in the communist camp. What do all three sad stories have in common? The Chinese government, that's what. While I realize that no one is willing to interrupt China's "big moment" with bad news, it might be slowly happening anyways, and this time China's bringing it upon itself.

1 comments:

USpace said...

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Great piece, thinking about China being given the Olympics really is maddening. At least more people will be talking sooner rather than later about how there are really two very different Chinas in one.
Maybe in the future it will be in Saudi Arabia or Venezuela.
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absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
just host sporting events

communists must always seek
planetary approval

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absurd thought -
God of the Universe loves
corrupt governments

denying outside help
with tragic avalanche

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absurd thought -
God of the Universe loves
capitalism's faults

but prefers communism
with its many miseries

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absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never admit mistakes

cling to false ideologies
brainwash your countrymen

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absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
cause food shortages

implement price controls
destroy all family farms

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All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech, there can be no real freedom.
.
Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
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Help Halt Terrorism Today!
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USpace

:)
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