Speaker by Various Artists

Read Post

Speaker: It’s Beijing, but not as Beijingers know it

80 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 Newer→ Last

  • Russell Brown,

    The Olympics on one level represent an opportunity for those in the West to display any conscience they may have in solidarity with the voiceless multitudes who perhaps don't see the games as a true expression of their homeland.

    Sure -- and all power to the 40 athletes who signed a letter urging China to improve its treatment of Tibet and ensure religious freedom, and got it reported around the world.

    The Chinese leadership has fallen short of its international promises in any number of ways, but Charles is right: the Chinese people probably have more rights than they have ever had, and certainly more opportunity to improve their lives. And everything I've seen indicates the "multitudes" are very largely proud and excited about what's happening.

    There's not just one thing happening here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    There's not just one thing happening here.

    Duly granted Russell, and I have to admit it's not just the Chinese authorities who I believe need to be regularly reminded of the other things going on behind the celebration of elite athletic effort.

    The corporations (and IOC) who are profiting/profiteering from the games deserve just as much needling as the Chinese govt in regard to the human rights issues they're associating themselves with.

    But to just watch and enjoy the spectacle without considering and actively supporting the voices of the disenfranchised, well in my view

    That's not ok.

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Charles Mabbett,

    Without question, Russell. People who are making the case that this is an enormous public relations campaign by the leadership have only got it half right. The Chinese public's appetite for the Olympic Games is huge.

    I stayed up until the New Zealand and Chinese teams entered the Bird's Nest on Saturday morning. I had headphones on so I wouldn't wake the household and when the Chinese team marched around the stadium, the crowd chanted 'Zhongguo jia you!' (Come on China!) over and over in one voice.

    It was eerie and it left me in no doubt that there was this incredible sense of expectation and national pride and I don't think it is contrived.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    But to just watch and enjoy the spectacle without considering and actively supporting the voices of the disenfranchised, well in my view

    One thing which stood out in the interview in Tiananmen I mentioned above was his claim that most of what they wanted to achieve in 1989 has been achieved..freedom of association and movement, a voice (officials all the way to the Central Congress level are elected or elected by those you elect...a little like the POTUS, albeit from one of a few official parties), and despite gaping holes, huge leaps in freedom of expression and availability of information.

    The reporter also walked around the square with a photo of the tank man, asking Chinese what they thought (there was general disinterest, with some saying they took no interest in politics and others saying it was in the past), but he noted that he was free to do so. That would never have happened even five years back.

    I would suggest that the disenfranchised, as a generalisation, are feeling perhaps far more enfranchised
    than at any stage in China's history and that any boycott would do no real good in moving that progress forward.

    I feel for the people who compulsorily lost their homes, but it's interesting to se that the official Chinese press agency is covering that, and are you seriously telling me that didn't happen in any of the Olympics of the past few decades.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3184 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    bites tongue...

    your taxed dollar • Since Mar 2008 • 1293 posts Report Reply

  • Charles Mabbett,

    Come on, Mark. Let's hear from you. You're over there.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Come on, Mark. Let's hear from you. You're over there.

    Yep, agreed...no tongue biting

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3184 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Come on, Mark. Let's hear from you. You're over there.

    Yep, agreed...no tongue biting

    Thirded, with a vengeance.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1549 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I couldn't find that interview on the website, Simon, but it looks like al-Jazeera is doing its usual unflashy good job of covering the news -- not shying from the human rights issues, but not patronising the genuinely proud and excited people either.

    Why can't all news networks be like this?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Charles Mabbett,

    I recommend listening to Mediawatch (broadcast yesterday morning). It makes some very valid points about the pre-Olympic coverage we got last week. Interesting also about our dumbed down Sunday programme.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • JohnAmiria,

    There was a piece on Al Jazeera last night ... about a guy who spent five years in jail after he was arrested at Tiananmen in 1989. He was back in the square being interviewed again and he was a huge supporter of the Olympics and he doesn't seem to be out of step with Chinese opinion.

    I accept the thrust of your comments Simon, but the skeptic in me also wonders if after 5 years in jail he came out 're-educated'? And the cynic in me wonders if he was in at all. Is it possible he's just a Govt actor presented to a guilable media? Mind you, I find AJ to be a pretty reliable news organisation.

    hither and yon • Since Aug 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Charles Mabbett,

    Thanks John for demonstrating this issue.

    It really highlights a common view in the West that the leadership in Beijing doesn't enjoy the free and willing support of the Chinese public, that Chinese people are brainwashed and indoctrinated into blind unquestioning subservience to their corrupt power hungry leaders, that the public can't demonstrate their opposition to the Games and that their really upset about how homes have been demolished to create multi-million dollar sporting white elephants.

    But the fact if you're Chinese and you live in China, there's an overwhelming probability that you'll be backing this jumbo circus all the way home and you'll be rooting for China to top the medal table for the first time. Whatever happens, this is an unmissable story. And its going to be an unmissable couple of weeks.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Why can't all news networks be like this?

    Agreed. Our TV, especially the various Murdoch channels out of HK, is generally shocking here (aside from the Korean gameshow channel, and the Christian Network which has the sound 1 second behind the video and has had for two years..why can't the lord sort that out?) but we are lucky to get 8 different news networks, however AJ shines above them all. It's what TV news channels should be like and shames the others.

    I accept the thrust of your comments Simon, but the skeptic in me also wonders if after 5 years in jail he came out 're-educated'? And the cynic in me wonders if he was in at all. Is it possible he's just a Govt actor presented to a guilable media? Mind you, I find AJ to be a pretty reliable news organisation.

    Who knows but the sceptic in me says that I doubt AJ would be that easily fooled.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3184 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Thanks John for demonstrating this issue......Whatever happens, this is an unmissable story. And its going to be an unmissable couple of weeks.

    I couldn't agree with you more Charles.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3184 posts Report Reply

  • JohnAmiria,

    It really highlights a common view in the West that the leadership in Beijing doesn't enjoy the free and willing support of the Chinese public...

    Well they are a one party totalitarian regime aren't they? Some free and fair elections, with democratic choices would solve the leadership issue surely?

    But if you're talking about the Olympics then yes, of course, the Chinese people are all for it. You'd get more opposition (proportionately) here in NZ to the RWC2011 when compared to Chinese opposing Beijing2008.

    Chinese communism isn't even a 100 years old. And the modern Chinese communism is nothing like that of Mao's communism. As my Chinese friends often tell me: China was doing all sorts of 'civilised' sh1t while we (europeans) were still painting on cave walls and running around in bearskins. An exaggeration yes, but I take their point. Many of them see Chinese Communism as merely a bump on the road of China's 8,000 year old history. A bump that given time will be trodden flat.

    hither and yon • Since Aug 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    I would suggest that the disenfranchised, as a generalisation, are feeling perhaps far more enfranchised
    than at any stage in China's history and that any boycott would do no real good in moving that progress forward.

    Before addressing the above Simon, just wanted to say thanks for your thoughts on this and, for the most part, I agree.

    However, my original post posed the hypothetical question of imagining what a large scale boycott of the sponsors might achieve. It's certainly not just the Chinese govt that is a driving force behind the big show. That kind of protest is achievable and may make a point that is a little harder for people in positions to effect change to ignore.

    And for me, this is as much about corporate greed as it is about human rights. Not that the two aren't rather heavily linked :)

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Charles Mabbett,

    I think a more realistic projection of where China will be in the decades to come will be as a one party state but with elected leaders. The experiments in local democracy could be the starting point for increasing and deepening democratic reforms. But the elevation of leaders within the party structure at local, provincial and national level could become determined by elections. As of opposition political parties, i really don't see that as happening anytime in the short to medium term and maybe not even in the long term. But then again, who predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1988?

    My point is that even though it is a one party state, i think it would be wrong to say that most Chinese don't support the government.

    Many Chinese i know are critical of the government but are conscious of the balancing act that it is trying to walk between economic liberalisation and maintaining social stability. And because of the overall improvements in the standard of living and in China's growing stature in the world, they are still inherently supportive of the government.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Charles Mabbett,

    Beg your pardon - Berlin Wall came down in 1989.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Charles Mabbett,

    oops, 1990 actually.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Charles Mabbett,

    clarification! For what it's worth. The Berlin Wall came down in 1989 but reunification of the Germanys in 1990.

    Since Nov 2006 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Well they are a one party totalitarian regime aren't they? Some free and fair elections, with democratic choices would solve the leadership issue surely?

    But they do have elections.

    Whether they qualify as free and fair is a wider question but they perception of China now as an unbending totalitarian monster is questionable. Despite the wide western perception, we are not looking at an equivalence to either Stalin or Hitler in 2008.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3184 posts Report Reply

  • JohnAmiria,

    Despite the wide western perception, we are not looking at an equivalence to either Stalin or Hitler in 2008.

    I never thought such a thing, and as I noted earlier the current Chinese Communist party is quite different to Mao's. If China were to institute 'western'-style democracy it would inevitably end up in civil war as each province/state decided to go their own way. Which may explain why the West want China to have 'democracy' -- it's the only way to fracture a bloc 1 billion strong. I also agree that the 'western' idea of democracy is flawed too. Everyone in the US has the right to vote and yet they remain a 2 Party state - you'd think that after all these years they'd have done a bit better than that.

    hither and yon • Since Aug 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    If China were to institute 'western'-style democracy it would inevitably end up in civil war as each province/state decided to go their own way.

    And if that was the case, that would be so damn terrible why?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    BTW, John, don't you think it's just a wee bit racist (and hellishly arrogant and presumptous) to presume "we" can handle democracy, but those funny foreign types can't without "inevitable" civil wars?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • JohnAmiria,

    I dunno, I've just got this thing about Civil War.... it never seems to do much good for the civilian population....

    hither and yon • Since Aug 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.