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China, Beijing Olympics II
Written by Diana Thebaud Nicholson // August 7, 2008 // Business, China, Economy, Media, Olympics, Public Policy, Security // 1 Comment
China, Beijing Olympics ; Tibet
The Official Mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
The Olympic Emblem
Athletes pay price for IOC riches
This is the most extreme case of a longstanding phenomenon of holding Olympics just when sensible citizens (as in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Athens 2004), are heading for the hills. It is also an illustration of how the IOC, having to choose between money, politics and sport, will always lean towards giving sport the bronze.
This isn’t the wrong place. But it is certainly the wrong time. The Chinese wanted to hold the Olympics in September, when the Beijing air was clearer, cooler and drier. They lost the argument to what in Olympic terms is a far more powerful force: the American TV network NBC.
In the meantime, the IOC whose leaders spend far too much time in air-conditioned suites and conference rooms, is in total denial about the weather. Rogge insisted the murk outside was “fog”; his medical chief Arne Ljunqvist referred to “humidity”. Locals just call it normal for August. In high summer, the city is covered in a grey, coal-fuelled murk. Occasionally a faint orange disc, vaguely recognisable as the sun, pokes through the curtain. This combines with humidity and 34ºC heat
China’s rain-stoppers face big Olympic test
Of all the Chinese officials working behind the scenes to produce a flawless Olympic opening ceremony on Friday evening, few face a task as daunting as those in charge of making sure it does not rain.
Staff from China’s “weather modification” departments have deployed aircraft, artillery and rocket launchers to ward off rain before the three-hour ceremony in Beijing’s spectacular but roofless “bird’s nest” stadium.
Olympic Message to Some in Beijing Is ‘Please Leave’
(NYT) As the city readied itself for the pageantry and the fireworks of Friday night’s opening ceremonies, its main train station was packed with truck drivers, food vendors and factory workers whose jobs had been sacrificed to the Olympics juggernaut. The atmosphere was a mix of expectation and boredom, but also disappointment and regret.
Construction has been banned since July 20; factories with noxious emissions were closed all across the city. The scores of unfinished buildings that dot the skyline, their facades cloaked in Olympian banners, are a testament to the boom interrupted.
(RCI) Quebec Premier Jean Charest says the presence in China of a delegation from the Council of the Federation will make up for the controversial absence of Prime Minister Stephen Harper from the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. Mr. Charest says the presence of delegations representing five provinces with 80 per cent of Canada’s population will make the Chinese realize that their country has a relationship with the provinces as well as with the federal government.
The Canadian flag was raised in the Olympic village in Beijing on Wednesday, just two days before the official opening ceremony of the Summer Games. About 100 athletes with the Canadian team attended the event. Chef de mission Sylvie Bernier, a former Olympic champion diver, accepted a plate from the mayor of the athlete’s village. She says the Canadian team is a great team and everyone is very enthusiastic. Most athletes say they are impressed with the installations in Beijing. On Friday Canadian kayaker Adam van Koeverden will take the flag to the official Opening ceremony of the games.
The Olympics: Unveiling Police State 2.0
by Naomi Klein
So far, the Olympics have been an open invitation to China-bash…. Through all the nasty news stories, however, the Chinese government has seemed amazingly unperturbed. That’s because it is betting on this: when the opening ceremonies begin Friday, you will instantly forget all that unpleasantness as your brain is zapped by the cultural/athletic/political extravaganza that is the Beijing Olympics.
Like it or not, you are about to be awed by China’s sheer awesomeness.
The games have been billed as China’s “coming out party” to the world. They are far more significant than that. These Olympics are the coming out party for a disturbingly efficient way of organizing society…. It is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarianism communism central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism.
William Pfaff on the Olympics and the World’s View of China
“China’s Quest for Olympic Glory” — The Chinese authorities’ anxiety that the Olympic Games will be a success reflects their need to find international confirmation of their general political and economic policies of the past 20 years.
Eugene Robinson on China and Olympic Diplomacy
“China’s Sins in the Spotlight” — World attention, in addition to fixing on the spectacle of the Olympics and the Chinese economic miracle, will be cast on a record of human rights abuse and environmental degradation.
Torch feted in Tiananmen, protesters held
(Reuters) The mood in Beijing, though, was one of mounting excitement, with most of the 10,500 athletes from 205 countries now in town.
David Kilgour sends the following link with the comment “This is very good. Jones is well-known in Australia; Zhang is a thoughtful ex-PRC official.”
(Australian Broadcasting Corporation) The director of the Association for Asian Research in New York City, Erping Zhang, speaks to Lateline about the situation in China.
IOC Feels Media Heat on Internet Restrictions (Reuters via Guardian)
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is facing mounting questions over Internet censorship, days before the Beijing Games, despite earlier pledges that its use would be unfettered. While China has allowed access to some Web sites that were blocked earlier in the week, many sites still remain inaccessible to reporters covering the Beijing Olympics. Guardian: Yahoo news site in Olympic mix-up. TV Week: Local stations bring Olympics coverage home. HuffPo: Huffington Post still blocked in Beijing.
Hu stands by Games pledges, web curbs lifted
BEIJING (Reuters) – President Hu Jintao said China would stand by pledges made when it was awarded the Olympics as Games officials deflected fire over Internet censorship on Friday by lifting restrictions.
“The issue has been solved,” IOC vice-president Gunilla Lindberg told Reuters. “Internet use will be just like in any Olympics.”
(NYT/Reuters) The unblocking of sites was already under way and these included Deutsche Welle, Amnesty International and the BBC’s China site.
More Pressure on Beijing
President Bush cannot go to the Olympics in silence next week. As the House of Representatives said in a resolution, approved 419 to 1, he must insist that China act immediately to cease rights abuses, allow promised press freedoms and permit peaceful political activities during the Games.
National Post Editorial Board: The worse the better at Beijing Olympics
The good news, if any is to be found, is that a series of humiliations may do more to create real pressure for openness in China than a squeaky-clean, smooth-running Games ever could.
China Announces More Pollution Controls
BEIJING — China’s environmental regulators on Thursday unveiled stricter emergency pollution controls for the Olympic Games that would shutter more factories and expand traffic restrictions if air quality failed to meet approved standards once the competition begins on Aug. 8.
The situation has improved in recent days as colder air and rainfall has washed out some of the pollution, even as the skies remain mostly milky or gray.
IOC admits Internet censorship deal with China
(Reuters Alert Net) I regret that it now appears [the organizers of the Beijing Olympics have] announced that there will be limitations on Web site access during Games time. I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related. International Olympic Committee press chief Kevan Gosper.
China Won’t Lift Web Blocks for Olympic Reporters
(Editor & Publisher) On Tuesday, sites such as Amnesty International or any search for a site with Tibet in the address could not be opened at the Main Press Center, which will house about 5,000 print journalists when the games open Aug. 8. The blocked sites will make it hard for journalists to retrieve information, particularly on political and human rights stories the government dislikes.
China, the Olympics and the Visa Mystery
(Stratfor) Something extraordinary is happening in China, and we are not talking about the Olympics. Rather, Chinese officials have been clamping down on visa applications and implementing bureaucratic impediments to new and renewed visa applications under the guise of pre-Olympic security.
In some ways, Beijing’s plan for a safe and secure Olympics appears based on the premise that if no one shows up, there can be no trouble. But placing restrictions on the movement of managers and employees of foreign businesses operating in China, even if for a limited time as Chinese officials have been at pains to reassure, makes little sense from the standpoint of gaining political and economic benefits from hosting the Olympics. Something just isn’t right.
The List: Five Ways Beijing Will Be the Biggest, Baddest Olympics Ever
(Foreign Policy) From massive construction budgets to an unprecedented security lockdown, the Beijing Games are already Olympian in proportion.
China cuts business visas for Olympics
(FT) China has issued new restrictions on business visas for the next two months as the government steps up its campaign to keep out unwelcome foreigners at next month’s Olympic Games.
China ‘to allow Olympic protests’
China says it will allow demonstrations in three designated city parks during the Olympic Games in Beijing.
But anyone wanting to protest will have to apply for permission from the city’s government and police.
Bunker mentality as Beijing readies for Games
BEIJING (AFP) — Its ancient city walls were demolished decades ago, but with the Olympic Games fast approaching Beijing is raising a new defence that is echoing those long-gone fortifications.
The capital has gone into fortress mode for next month’s Games, with police checkpoints choking road traffic into Beijing, tightened security across the city, and even surface-to-air missiles set up near Olympic venues.
Putin to attend Olympics launch
Putin, formerly Russia’s president, joins a host of world leaders including US President George W Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy who have confirmed their participation in the ceremony on August 8.
Officials Note Two Concerns for Olympics: Air and Access
Pollution and media access remain uncertainties as Beijing hustles to finish construction projects and get the city ready for the Aug. 8 opening ceremonies.
Beijing Olympics soaking up water supplies
(Canadian Consulting Engineer) The Canadian environmental group Probe International has issued a report saying that this year’s Olympic Games in Beijing are contributing to a chronic water supply shortage in the city.
Bush to Attend Opening Ceremony in Beijing
The Olympic Games were founded to bridge cultural divides and promote peace between nations. Instead, they often mask human rights abuses, do little to spur political change, and lend legitimacy to some of the world’s most unsavory governments. Worse, the Beijing Games could still be the most controversial of them all.
Trapped by its grandiose goal of embracing the entire “human family” at whatever cost, the IOC has repeatedly caved in and awarded the games to police states bent on staging spectacular festivals that serve only to reinforce their own authority. Of course, the most notorious example is the 1936 Berlin Games, which were promoted by a network of Nazi agents working both inside and outside the IOC. (Foreign Policy – subscriber only)
(BBC) Tourism slow as Olympics approach
In “China’s Olympic Nightmare,” Elizabeth Economy and Adam Segal describe the challenges China faces on the eve of the Olympic Games and how failing to peacefully and successfully address them could jeopardize China’s credibility as a rising global power. In a similar vein, C. Fred Bergsten argues that China continues to act like a small country with little impact on the global system and little responsibility for it; to avoid a global economic train wreck, he contends, Washington and Beijing must develop a genuine partnership of equals.
Will China’s economy perform at Games?
While analysts have noted a post-Olympic downturn following previous games, because of its smaller proportion of the greater economy, this may not be an issue in China.
After the dramatic increase in investment in the pre-Olympics stage, accompanied by a boom in consumption and revenues, investment and consumption traditionally shrink in the post-Olympic stage.
There is also the burden of maintenance cost for idle Olympic venues, as well as potential downturn in use of new games-related infrastructure.
BBC will show Beijing Olympics protests
(The Telegraph) The BBC will show political protests if they occur during the Beijing Olympics, the corporation said yesterday, even if the Games’ organisers attempt to censor official footage.
Dave Gordon, head of major sports events for the BBC, told The Daily Telegraph that Beijing had become “more difficult” for broadcasters than the Moscow Games in 1980.
He said international representatives had tried to get answers for two years on whether the Olympic broadcasting agency that provides the only feed of the actual events would show footage of protests if they occurred.
Networks, Olympics organizers clash
BEIJING (AP) — Television networks that will broadcast the Beijing Olympics to billions around the world are squaring off with local organizers over stringent security that threatens coverage of the games in two months.
Differences over a wide range of issues — from limits on live coverage in Tiananmen Square to allegations that freight shipments of TV broadcasting equipment are being held up in Chinese ports — surfaced in a contentious meeting late last month between Beijing organizers and high-ranking International Olympic Committee officials and TV executives — including those from NBC.
China’s Pride: A 24-Karat Olympic Machine
In anticipation of China’s debut as an Olympic host, officials here have seized the opportunity to prove their country is a world power in sports. Rowing is at the heart of China’s plan to capture, for the first time, more gold medals than any other nation at the Olympic Games.
Don’t coddle Beijing – it must account for its role Darfur: Roméo Dallaire
Many consider it taboo to speak of the genocide in Darfur and the upcoming Beijing Olympics in the same breath. I disagree entirely. I believe the two should be firmly linked in the public’s mind, and I said so in blunt terms during a recent CBC interview.
The Right Way to Pressure Beijing By William F. Schulz
(Foreign Affairs April 2008) Human rights groups are rightly outraged about China’s abysmal record. But it is foolhardy to treat a rising superpower like a tin-pot dictatorship. Sometimes, a little pragmatism goes a long way.
That the Chinese take symbolism so seriously, however, provides a rare opening for those who care about human rights. There are, after all, only a limited number of ways in which human rights groups or Western governments can influence China on civil and political rights. Formal diplomatic entreaties usually yield shallow results. Trying to isolate the world’s most populous country is not an option. Economic sanctions that worked against apartheid South Africa and maintain at least nominal pressure on countries such as Burma and Zimbabwe would be fruitless against the world’s second-largest economy. Military intervention to stop human rights violations is unthinkable.
China marks 100 days to Olympics
(BBC) Highlights of the day will include a long-distance race in Beijing and the unveiling of an Olympic theme tune.
Wednesday will also see the return of the Olympic flame to China after its controversial global relay.
One Comment on "China, Beijing Olympics II"
Mediachannel.org News Dissector Danny Schechter will talk about press restrictions surrounding the Olympics as my guest on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com Friday August 7 at 5 PM New York time.
To talk to Schechter please go to http://www.garybaumgarten.com and click on the link to the show. There is no charge.