Friday, August 29, 2008

Even Beijing locals were shafted by "successful" Olympics

I have spent quite a bit of bandwith discussing why Communist China's Olympiad did not do what the regime needed for it. Now, we discover that even in Beijing itself, the Games were a financial flop (World Tribune via Boycott 2008):
The flood of foreign visitors never arrived . . . A clampdown on visas for young foreigners — part of the intensive and extensive security arrangements — gave China Air, the national carrier about 20 percent less traffic this July than last year. Domestic visitors, too, decided it was better to stay at home and watch the Games on TV rather than risk possible terrorist episodes, the crowding and high costs of the Beijing Olympics boom.


This is the reality we must not forget regarding the Olympics. They were a wonderful show, but that did not make them effective from the cadres' perspective. Most of the world remembers the 1976 Games for Nadia Comaneci. Ask any Canadian and you'll get a much darker picture (the host city - Montreal - went bankrupt).

So now, it's back to normal for the Communist regime: repression (Between Heaven and Earth and Epoch Times), overseas intimidation (BH&E), playing nice to America (Washington Times) while undermining it (Front Page Magazine), and corruption (Epoch Times). The cadres still have the memory of the show, plus an added bonus in the continuing DPP scandal in Taiwan (Washington Post), but they know they did not get the propaganda bonanza they desperately needed - not even in the capital city itself.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why does Communist China need an economic stimulus?

For those who tend to believe the stats Communist China puts out on domestic economic growth, this Epoch Times story will come as a shock:
As China’s market is anticipated to see a slight dip in the post-Olympic economy, it has been reported recently that the Chinese Communist Party is considering a 370 billion yuan (approximately US$54.03 billion) economic stimulus package.

Economic stimulus package? This is the economy that boasts growth rates of 10% annually. It is supposedly drowning in foreign investment, even more so with the great success of the Olympics. What happened?

Well, for starters, as the worldwide economy takes a breather (to put it mildly), the export-dependent economy is feeling the pinch (Asia News). More to the point, however, many of us wondered about the validity of those statistics, which are in fact aggregated totals from local cadres across the land desperate to make their little fiefdoms look good.

It's part of the larger problem in dealing with the Communist-imprisoned country: what you see is not always (and in fact hardly ever) what you get. The Olympics themselves were a prime example. It was a wonderful show (Washington Times) that nevertheless disguised a bloodthirsty regime (Between Heaven and Earth, Boycott 2008 Communist Olympics, and Epoch Times), and didn't hide it particularly well (National Review Online - Media Blog).

As the Games fade into memory, the truth has once again come to the fore, whether it's treatment of dissidents (BH&E), corruption (BBC), its Korean colony (BBC, Newsmax, and One Free Korea), or its weakening economy.

Of course, there will be many still dazzled by Beijing's smoke-and-mirrors, from new American allies (BBC) to would-be Vice Presidents (The View From Taiwan via the Weekly Standard), but today we saw one important pillar of falsehood collapse: the myth of the great Communist Chinese economy.

After all, if the economy were in such terrific shape, why would it need a stimulus package?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Missing the forest for the towers

As more pundits disagree with my notion that the Communists botched the Olympics (especially Jay Nordlinger over at NRO - The Corner), I took some time to reassess my view. However, while Nordlinger, Anne Applebaum (Washington Post), Human Rights in China, and Zenit make some valid points, I think they've missed the larger issue.

While the Beijing Games certainly had wonderful stories about athletes (which were mentioned), I don't see as much of a glow for the host. In fact, for every blind MSM assertion that Nordlinger references, there was the off-key (for the cadres) response of John Burns (New York Times via Weekly Standard Blog): "In truth, some of the worst instincts of the old China have poked through the dazzle, most egregiously in the substitution of the pretty little girl in a red dress, and a voice-over, for the 7-year-old whose voice, but not her uneven teeth, met the Politburo’s standards."

I fear that many of my anti-Communist friends were expecting some sort of political disruption to hit the Olympics - or, to be more accurate, set the bar so high that only such a disruption would qualify as a failure for the Games. However, just because the Olympics did not achieve what we wanted (even if none of us expected it) does not mean the cadres got what they wanted either.

What did the cadres get? Conspiracy theories zipping around the local blogosphere about an injured athlete (Epoch Times) before the internet police could catch up to them and shut them down, the Wang Peiyi debacle, a blooming gymnastics scandal, and most ominously, a stunning lack of interest from outside Beijing. The last one is the real problem for the Communists (and one nearly anyone who focused to heavily on Beijing itself would have missed), since all the propaganda in the world means zilch if no one is listening.

I think this also reveals a larger problem within the anti-Communist community. Because it was largely urban intellectuals who led the fight against European Communism, most of us assume a similar uprising will bring down the CCP. This notion became further entrenched by the presence of the students in the 1989 Tiananmen Spring. However, the CCP has moved heaven and earth to co-opt the urban intellectual element - and sadly, they have had much success. The Party's weakness is outside Beijing, in the rural counties and industrial small cities where anger at the regime runs highest. This means the regime is far weaker than it appears to the outside world, in no small part because the folks searching for weaknesses (us) are looking in the wrong place. The Olympiad, along with reaction to it, is merely the latest (and best) example of this.

The other thing to remember is how the Olympics will be remembered a year from now. We will remember the athletic achievements, and the Chinese people will remember the corruption, land seizures, and payoffs that made it all possible. I doubt their memories will be fertile ground for Communist propaganda.

So, while the regime continues to arrest priests (Zenith), spread their economic influence (BBC and London Telegraph), prop up the Korean colony (BBC, CNN, and Washington Post), and intimidate democratic governments (Epoch Times), let us not forget that the major cities are the last place to look for the views, hopes, dreams, and grievances of the Chinese people. Otherwise, we will literally miss the forest for the gleaming towers.

Monday, August 25, 2008

And so it ends

The Olympics Games are now behind us. For anti-Communists, the regime's clampdown on free expression (BBC, Between Heaven and Earth, CNN, Boycott 2008 Communist Olympics, Epoch Times, NRO - Media Blog, and the Washington Post) and foreign press (CBC) is no real surprise. Nor are MSM's blind assertions that the Games were "a resounding success" for the cadres (Washington Times, although the Post had a similar column).

The real shock is that said assertions were wrong. These Olympic Games failed to do what the Communists asked of them (Epoch Times).

Every praiseworthy comment about the opening ceremony was matched with condemnation for the blackballing of Wang Peiyi. Their success in winning more gold medals than anyone else (although the United States won the overall medal count) was tarnished by the gymnastics scandal (Epoch Times). Add to that the fact that so many rural Chinese tuned the Games out, and what you have is something far less than the propaganda extravaganza the cadres wanted.

Even those who acknowledged a well-run show were put off: Tom Boswell (Washington Post) called it "soulless" while Tom Humphries (Irish Times via Boycott 2008) referred to it as "hermetically sealed."

Then, to top it off, the final day came with a message from Washington ripping the cadres for refusing "to demonstrate greater tolerance and openness" (London Telegraph via Boycott 2008) - definitely not the send-off the regime wanted.

For the Communists, the question is as follows: was it worth it? Was it worth the ruined lives and angry citizens (Boycott 2008)? Was it worth the inevitable corruption scandals? Based on the above, the answer is clearly No.

These Olympics will do nothing to stop Falun Gong from demanding the right to practice without prison, torture, or murder-for-organs (Boycott 2008 and Epoch Times). They will not silence investors furious over the cadres fleecing them (Epoch Times). They will not make people forget about Tibet (Epoch Times).

If anything, the Games have led the rest of the world to pay more attention to Communist China's military ambitions (Washington Times) and espionage activities (Ottowa Citizen via Small Dead Animals) - exactly where the cadres did not want any prying eyes.

For the Communists, it's back to business as usual, including propping up the ever more embarrassing Korean colony (BBC, BBC again, and One Free Korea). Whatever glow they have from these Games is pale and short-lived. These Olympics were supposed to add years to the life span of the regime; it would be lucky to get days for it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Terror lawsuit gives a glimpse into life after the Olympics

The Communist Olympiad continues to list badly on its way to sinking in two days. The cadres, who were hoping to bask in the glow of being a beloved and respected host, are instead besieged by a fresh investigation into their gymnasts (BBC, CNN, Spectator Coffee House, and the Times of London), controversy over the shutdown of I-Tunes (Times of London and the Weekly Standard Blog), outrage harsh measures to prevent any protests (Boycott 2008 and Epoch Times, and Washington Post), harassment of foreign media (National Review Online - Media Blog) and those who talk to them (Epoch Times). The cadres have been so tarnished that even when they get the empty praise they so badly wanted, the reaction to it is derision rather than agreement (NRO - Media Blog).

Meanwhile, the issues that the Olympics were supposed to submerge - ironically enough, these Games did that and more, but not for the reasons the cadres wanted - are returning to the horizon for all to see: religious persecution (Between Heaven and Earth and Boycott 2008), the plight of occupied Tibet (Epoch Times), the damaging effects of the hideous "one child" policy (Weekly Standard Blog), an economy in trouble (Epoch Times), the antics of the Korean colony (One Free Korea), and - here's the big one - a lawsuit by Israeli victims of a terrorist attack against a regime-owned bank that aided said terrorists (Epoch Times).

The details of the lawsuit reveal a multi-level scheme designed for the Communists to help the terrorists without appearing to do so:

According to the charges, the Bank of China transferred regularly, over a period of time, amounts of about US$100,000 to the private bank account of a senior Hamas official located China. The latter used the money to buy merchandise which he shipped to Gaza. In Gaza, this merchandise was resold by senior Hamas officials and the profit was used to fund terrorist activities.

According to the plaintiffs and their attorney Nitzana, the Israeli government notified the Bank of China of the use Hamas was making of the money and demanded the bank of China to stop the transfers. Darshan-Leitner claims to have evidence proving this.

In other words, Communist China is hosting a leading member of Hamas and handing him money for use in a fundraising scheme (keep in mind, Bank of China is one of the "Big Four" regime-owned banks). This suddenly brings to the fore an issue near and dear to yours truly for over half-a-dozen years.

While I would like to say it couldn't have come at a worse time, yesterday was a better day for the cadres for this to be filed then, say, next week. Still, the mere fact that this suit was filed could be a devastating blow, especially if it becomes well known that a Communist-owned bank was underwriting Middle Eastern terrorists so closely.

Had the Olympics been even remotely successful - from the Communist point of view - the regime may have had some reservoir of good will to deflect this for a while. With the Games what they are, the cadres have no margin for error. If this lawsuit gets traction, they could be facing a steady erosion of "engagement" support.

America and her allies will never be secure until China is free. These Games will not distract anyone from this fact; the aforementioned lawsuit could make it plain to every American.

The eighth month of the eighth year of this millennium could indeed be a very lucky one for the Chinese people - because it's been a disaster so far for the Communists.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The fakery chronicles continue

The Communist Olympiad continued to veer out of the cadres control and into a major embarrassment. The diligent journalists at the Epoch Times found more evidence - straight from CCP documents - that two members of the host's women's gymnastics team are underage. Meanwhile, one of the walls built to shield the real Beijing from visitors was dressed up as a building facade, replete with a phony sky (Epoch Times). Finally, the Washington Post reveals a regime so terrified of migrants workers' "farmhand manners" that it halted all construction last month and expelled nearly a million migrant workers, leaving some projects comically unfinished.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

The cadres were planning for a two-week extravaganza blow-out that would be the talk of the planet and a major source of pride for the Chinese people (Epoch Times). Instead, the litany of fakery left the regime no defense against the usual criticisms about human rights (Boycott 2008, Epoch Times, and Front Page Magazine), including media censorship (Washington Times). Even the prisoners in Communist labor camps managed to outsmart the cadres and get their message out (Epoch Times).

It has come to the point where even the International Olympic Committee is taking it on the chin (Washington Times).

These Olympics appear to be the exact opposite of what the cadres wanted (and what nearly everyone expected). It will be more remembered outside Communist China, as a symbol of how the regime is not worthy of praise and respect, long after the Chinese people have forgotten it, leaving the cadres no defense against the inevitable corruption scandals.

About the only person happy with this ongoing disaster may be the Korean viceroy, whose own horrific exploits continue to be ignored by all but yours truly and One Free Korea.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

They blew it

The Olympics are entering the home stretch. The Communist regime is certainly planning a closing ceremony that could be as captivating as the opening ceremony was before the fake fireworks and the stunningly cruel treatment of seven-year-old Yang Peiyi. Despite this, I believe we can come to some preliminary conclusions about the Communist-run Olympics Games. Most of the debate before the Games was whether or not the Olympics would force a change in the regime's behavior; just about everyone assumed the Communists would milk the event for all its worth as a propaganda bonanza. No one expected them to get that part wrong.

Yet that is exactly what happened: the Communist Olympiad - from the perspective of the Communists - has been a failure. To understand why, and what that means, one must remember what the cadres wanted - and, in fact, desperately needed - from these Games.

The Communist regime was looking for two things out of the Olympics. The first was foreign approval for their "mandate from heaven." Those who said this was the CCP's "coming-out party" were absolutely correct. The regime did everything it could to make Beijing look modern, vibrant, and dynamic - just like any city in the free world.

There were, however, some things the Communists couldn't do, because of the other and far more important objective of the Games - to use nationalist pride from the Games to build support for the Party and discredit dissidents. This would in part be driven by the aforementioned foreign support - anyone who participated in the Games would be labeled by the CCP as a supporter of the CCP (which is why I wanted a free-world boycott), and there would be many foreigners who would be more than willing to talk up the regime (especially in the "engagement" crowd). However, the Olympiad itself was also supposed to build "patriotic" feelings in the populace at large.

Three-quarters of the way through, we can now be certain that neither objective was achieved.

The first weekend looked very good from the regime's perspective; the opening ceremony drew more attention than many of the initial events. That backfired quickly when the acts of fakery were exposed, especially the treatment of Yang Peiyi. Thus, during a time when the cadres hoped to hear about how their wonderful hosting reflected on the Chinese people, they instead endured repeated criticism from international media - including the we-all-know-the-Chinese-government-is-not-the-Chinese-people dagger (one of the main purposes of the Games was to make the free world equate the CCP and China as one entity). Add to it the numerous reports of foul play surrounding the host's women's gymnastic team, and the Communists were reduced to being grateful that the conversation changed to Michael Phelps over this past weekend.

Still, even with the attempt to win foreign acclaim largely in shambles, the cadres could still count on the overwhelming gratitude and support of the Chinese people - at least that's what they thought. As it turns out, the cadres themselves made that goal impossible to achieve, first by their decision to keep tickets away from the public in order to make party members happy (this led to the embarrassing spectacle of empty seats), and then by their fawning of urban areas, which angered rural Chinese so much they are all but ignoring the entire thing.

This is especially troublesome for the Communists because the rural interior is the place where anger at the regime is highest. Thus, the nationalistic sentiment that the Olympics were supposed to spark has been nonexistent outside of the Potemkin cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen). Instead, the Games have set off a wave of hostility to the regime and the cities it has developed and micromanaged politically for three decades.

What will this mean for the future? For starters, it means the firewall on which the Communists counted to ride out the post-Olympic storm never materialized. More importantly, it means we may have reached a turning point on the "nationalist" card in general.

In the cities, where residents are dependent upon the Party for political connections, wealth, and development, the CCP can still hold firm and rely on the self-interest of the people it controls to do its bidding (this is why the young elite in Communist China's cities remain firmly wedded to the Party - the Party educated them and made them rich - precisely to ensure they don't take to Tiananmen Square as their counterparts in 1989 did).

In the countryside, however, there is less wealth to go around, and the cadres' sense of entitlement pretty much assures that they'll get all of it. As a result, the ordinary people are much less supportive of the Party. That is not new. What is new - or perhaps what the Olympics have exposed - is that love of China is not enough for these folks to look the other way and grant the Communists their propaganda coup. In other words, for the average rural farmer, there is a difference between China and the CCP, one that the Olympics appear to have reinforced, not eroded.

If this is the case (and from the outside, this must remain an "if"), then the Olympic Games are not just a failure for the Communists; they are a catastrophic failure that may mean the beginning of the end for the regime.

Even the Communists' friends are taking it on the chin

The Beijing Olympics is on the way to becoming a surprising disappointment for the Chinese Communist Party, as the expected complaints about human rights (BBC, Boycott 2008, and The Epoch Times) were complemented by outrage over the cadres telling a seven-year-old girl she was too ugly to go onstage (Epoch Times) and the fact that most rural Chinese were not paying attention to the propaganda. The cadres still have the last few days (Epoch Times) and the closing ceremony, but it appears unlikely to change the very bad dynamic for them.

Today's more surprising sign that things are indeed changing is the dramatic fall from grace of one of Communist China's best friends - former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Chretien recently blasted current PM Stephen Harper for not showing up in Beijing (CanWest Global) and granting honorary citizenship to the Dalai Lama. Now, for those of us who've been watching the Liberal Party of Canada, this is standard "engagement" stuff. The reaction to it was something else again.

Chretien probably expected a tame reaction from Harper et al, especially with his old Grit caucus buddy David Emerson know in place as Foreign Minister. However, Harper handed the Chretien reaction file not to Emerson, but to anti-Communist Jason Kenney - and Kenney said a mouthful (Globe and Mail):

"I think it reconfirms that Mr. Chrétien and the Liberals have always pursued a policy in this area calculated to their own personal financial interests and those of rich and powerful friends," Mr. Kenney said yesterday.

"It's no mistake that Mr. Chrétien was calculating his retirement income in his relations in this area. [It was] a few weeks after he left the premiership that he was being signed on as a consultant to multinational companies with commercial interests in this area. ..."

Mr. Kenney was clearly referring to Power Corp., the conglomerate founded by Paul Desmarais Sr. His son, André Desmarais, now the co-CEO, is married to Mr. Chrétien's daughter, France, and Mr. Chrétien's long-time campaign manager and adviser, John Rae, is a senior Power executive.

Mr. Chrétien travelled to China two months after leaving office accompanied by Power executives, and has returned several times to represent business clients.

That Kenney would have free reign to criticize Chretien so strongly - and that the Globe and Mail would also criticize Chretien in an editorial the day before (G&M's coverage also surprised Kate from Small Dead Animals) - is a powerful symbol of how things have changed up there (The Halifax Chronicle-Herald was even more critical of Chretien, but I doubt it has much resonance outside of Atlantic Canada).

It may (stress, may) very well be that the weakness of these Olympics - from the propaganda perspective - is taking its toll on the entire "engagement" apparatus. Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post actually wrote about the economic threat from Communist China (although it wasn't his first time), which is exactly what the cadres had hoped would not be discussed during the Games. What was supposed to be a barrier to the Communist regime's perfidy (for animal abuses, see World Net Daily; overseas intimidation, Epoch Times; Taiwan, Weekly Standard; and North Korea, One Free Korea) has instead become a magnet for them.

Nazi Germany was destroyed nine years after the 1936 Olympics, but the Games themselves were a boon to Hitler's regime. Moscow's 1980 Olympiad was tarnished by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the resulting boycott that was reflective of a more resolute free world, which helped bring the USSR down in eleven years. Whatever one thought of the 2008 Games (an "engagement" opportunity or a propaganda bonanza), just about everyone assumed they would be a success for the Communists. Yet not only are the Games looking more and more like a failure, but they may be a failure that damages "engagement" itself, and gives anti-Communism a surprising chance at revival. This may be a decade for hope after all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More bad news for the cadres

The revulsion to Olympic fakery continues to ripple around the world (Boycott 2008, National Post, National Review Online, and the Washington Times). The "protest zones" that were supposed to be a model of the regime's human face have become a mocking symbol of its iron fist (Washington Post). To top it off, when the regime finally gets a hand from one of its best friends (ex-Canadian PM Jean Chretien - CanWest) local media responds by finding the whistleblower who started an investigation into Communist espionage that said friend thought he had buried and turning him (the whistleblower) into a household name (Ottowa Citizen via Small Dead Animals).

Yet as bad as all of this was for the Communists, nothing compared to what Joshua Kurlantzick found in the rural hinterland (National Post via Boycott 2008, emphasis added):

Interior China’s GDP lags far behind eastern China’s, and as China opens to foreign imports small-plot Chinese farmers will find it even harder to make a living, since they’ll be competing with the massive Brazilian, American and Australian agribusinesses. Worse, the pollution caused by Chinese industry is destroying farmland and water sources — vast parts of the agricultural heartland will virtually run dry within 30 years. Meanwhile, rural people actually face higher tax levies, according to their income, than many richer city citizens, partly because local officials just want to make more money.

Not surprisingly, for many of these rural dwellers the Games might be an interesting distraction on TV, rather than a source of major pride. “It is something that only the people in cities around Beijing care about,” one young Chinese in a rural town told Rian Dundon, a photographer who studies youth culture in China’s interior. “People from Hunan [an interior province] and other far away places don’t really feel very excited about it, and I don’t feel a personal connection to it.”

Indeed, Dundon found that young people in the interior were angry that whatever positive impact the Games had would be limited to the cities. “The Olympics can only affect a very small part China. The rest will be left behind,” another young rural Chinese told him.

That statement is exactly what the Communists did not want from these Games. The entire purpose of this propaganda exercise (and from the cadres' point of view, that's all this is) was to set off a wave of pride that would engulf the rural interior. Yet Communist China's continuous brainwashing and coddling of urban Chinese has clearly angered rural Chinese in a way that no level of propaganda can cure.

I'm not sure if the folks from the hinterland have made the full separation of the Chinese Communist Party from China, but they certainly understand the difference between China as a whole and the urban pockets the CCP has fostered. That may be enough to make most rural Chinese completely immune from the propaganda effect of the Games.

In which case - for the Communists - these Olympics are already a failure. There will be no reservoir of memory from which to draw when the time comes to bail out the Korean colony again (One Free Korea and Washington Times), continue the persecution of dissidents (Between Heaven and Earth and Epoch Times), and deal with the upcoming corruption exposure.

Monday, August 18, 2008

So we enter the second half . . .

The Communists prepared for these two weeks since 2001. They wanted everything just right and in place. The turned their usual snow-job on the rest of the world into overdrive while the razed old Beijing to build the sports stadiums.

Now, with just six days to go until the closing ceremony, the cadres can look outside of Beijing and be happy. The Washington Times is running almost ridiculously sycophantic columns; Australia is now under the control of one of their best friends (Epoch Times); the overseas intimidation techniques reached the United States itself (Epoch Times); and most importantly, their biggest headache over the last eight years - former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, has all but disappeared under a cloud of corruption charges (Channel News Asia). One could hardly have a better international backdrop for the Communist Olympiad.

However, instead of gliding to the propaganda climax for which the cadres' hoped, the Games are careening out of control into what could be a stunning failure.

Amidst the athletic events, the coverage is still dominated by the cruel treatment of seven-year-old Yang Peiyi (Epoch Times and more Epoch Times) and other fakeries (Front Page Magazine). Even worse, we are now discovering that the empty seats in the Olympic venues were actually caused by the regime itself, which limited ticket distribution to cadres and their trusted pals (Epoch Times). Meanwhile, those who could get tickets are already complaining about the lack of food (Epoch Times). The sponsors are unhappy (Epoch Times), but much more importantly, so are the Chinese people (Times of London).

That is why these Olympics are already far worse than the cadres expected. The Communists were willing to ride out the storm on dissident blackouts (still no authorized protests in the protest zone - BBC and Washington Post), crackdowns (Boycott 2008, CNN, Epoch Times and more Epoch Times), media restrictions and surveillance (Epoch Times and Washington Post), occasional problems from the Korean colony (Epoch Times and One Free Korea), etc. All was worth it so long as the Chinese people saw a spectacular show and fawning international approval.

What they have are a slew of scandals (even the Korean colony gets into the act there - OFK), missteps, and other problems. While the rest of the world's reaction is mixed, the Chinese people have simply decided to tune the Games out.

The Beijing Olympics were supposed to make the CCP look respectable to the rest of the world and - much more importantly - look respected by said world to the Chinese people. More than halfway in, it appears unlikely that the Communists will achieve either goal. If that holds, it would easily be the biggest upset of the entire Olympiad.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Another day, another Olympic pitfall for the Communists

When it was just faked parts of the opening ceremony fireworks, it seemed merely a symbolic faux pas. When we found out the regime told a seven-year-old girl she was too ugly for the stage, it became a symbol of the regime's cruelty (National Review Online and NRO - The Corner).

Now, we have reports of actual scandals, i.e., the regime trying to fix the outcome of events.

The most well-known problems involve the women's gymnastics team - which according to both outside and Communist news sources include athletes too young to participate (NRO and Washington Post). There is also the question of who got a hold of Abhinav Bindra's rifle before Men's 10m Air Rifle Final (although Bindra was able to fix the problem and win - Boycott 2008).

I must confess; this doesn't surprise me. This is a regime willing to built eight-foot walls to block the view of older housing in the city (CNN). They created special protest zones and refuse to let any protesters use them (Washington Post), while bringing in the cameras for the good half of their interrogations with foreign protesters (Washington Post). Their promises of cutting back on human rights abuses before and during the Games has proven to be a joke (Between Heaven and Earth and Boycott 2008).

Given all of the above, it's no shock that the cadres would try to inflate their medal total through unethical means (that they could be so easily caught - as with the gymnastics flap - does surprise me a little). After all, what matters to the Communists, first and foremost, is putting on the best show possible for the Chinese people to see - not on their behalf, as is so readily assumed outside Communist China.

I've already pointed to evidence that the cadres are coming up short here, and more of it came today courtesy of the Washington Post. The headline says it all: "Across China's Countryside, 'Just Too Busy' for Olympics."

Given that the restive countryside was the target audience for the Olympic propaganda, this is a big deal - and a very troubling one for the Communists. Fewer watchers from the rural interior means angrier peasants when evidence of the pre-Olympic corruption seeps out (as it inevitably will when the Games end).

When Beijing was awarded the Games in 2001, the argument between engagers and anti-Communists was whether the Olympics would succeed in nudging the CCP toward change or simply give the Party a huge propaganda success. That the regime would stumble from embarrassing stagecraft to athletic scandal wasn't on anyone's radar (even the Korean colony can't gain from the relative anonymity the Games provide - One Free Korea).

In fact, these Olympic Games may be something neither side saw coming: a flop.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reverting to from

Communist China appears to have decided they've gotten all they can out of the Olympics from an international perspective. Not that the international perspective was the primary goal, the regime's real interest was making its people believe it had won international acclaim. However, recent events are making clear the cadres are more focused on hoodwinking their own people - the rest of the world be damned.

The best evidence for this is the latest Sudanese attack on Darfur (Times of London). This would have been unthinkable just a week ago for public relations reasons, but with the opening ceremony behind them (and with its value being steadily eroded by the exposure of fakery - Boycott 2008), the regime has obviously decided that it can ride out the international storm.

This will also mean that the already invasive security at the Games will continue (BBC and Boycott 2008), as will the human rights abuses (Between Heaven and Earth, Boycott 2008, and the Washington Times), antics by satellite state like Sudan and North Korea (One Free Korea), and the overseas intimidation (Epoch Times), although they may need to dial it down in Australia - or at least decouple it from the drug trade (Epoch Times). Meanwhile, any athletes hoping the cadres will move beyond their regime-controlled religious establishment (Washington Post) had best not hold their breath.

The other clear signal that the Olympics are all about bamboozling the Chinese people is the news that the cadres are now pointing the finger at Falun Gong for the Todd Bachman murder (Epoch Times). Frankly, this is a stunner - not necessarily because the Communists are trying to tar Falun Gong, but because it was the standard propaganda line from the get-go.

This tells us that the regime is no longer paying attention to the rest of the world. The cadres knew that Falun Gong has enough defenders out there (including yours truly) to make any accusation controversial. The regime would have to know that changing its story to blame the movement will be even worse - outside Communist China.

Inside Communist China, however, it could be another story. To get an idea as to how different the "news" is over there, take a look at how Michael Phelps has been covered (International Herald Tribune). It's abundantly clear that the Communists are determined to get as much internal propaganda value as possible, and that no longer means worrying about the rest of the world.

Still, the new Falun Gong smear smacks of desperation to me. The Games are almost halfway through, and the high from the opening ceremony has worn off with surprising speed (even those who don't focus on the fakery, like Meghan Cox Gurdon of the Washington Examiner, are no longer impressed). The closing ceremony - and more importantly, the post-Olympic hangover - are coming on fast. The Communists are playing defense now.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Are the Communists losing control of the theme?

Samuel Chi presents his view of the Olympics so far in Real Clear World: "The Beijing Games, three days old, would already have to be considered a mild PR disaster." I'm not sure I'm ready to go that far, but clearly the Games have been less that what the Communists hoped.

Even as my local ESPN Radio talk show host (John Thompson) talked Olympic events, he publicly ripped the regime for its opening ceremony lip-sync fiasco. Shockingly, the regime continued to defend its move (BBC, Small Dead Animals, and Washington Times).

On the one hand, it may seem odd that replacing a seven-year-old singer with a "prettier" face on stage would cause so much damage, in light of the wet blanket thrown on journalists (London Daily Telegraph) and protesters (BBC and CNN). A more ominous problem would be reports that there is a cover-up regarding the Todd Bachman murder (the cadres had better party this Epoch Times source is wrong, but their refusal to let anyone investigate is not a good sign - Sydney Morning Herald via NRO Media Blog). None of this even discusses the cadres' misbehavior outside the Games: e.g., its human rights abuses (CNN), machinations against Taiwan (Washington Times), and the propping up of its despicable Korean colony (BBC and One Free Korea).

On the other hand, a symbol is a symbol, and when it comes to the lies, repression, and callousness of the regime, telling a seven-year-old girl that she's too ugly for the stage and ordering a nine-year-old cutie to lip-sync it combine for a near-perfect metaphor.

Meanwhile, the real problem of the Games (for the cadres, that is) shows up in two different arenas. The first is, literally, the arenas themselves, which are drawing an unexpected level of no-shows, so much so that the regime has resorted to "busing in teams of state-trained "cheer squads" identifiable by their bright yellow T-shirts to help fill the empty seats and improve the atmosphere" (Washington Post). The second is the stock market, which the cadres hoped would zoom upward (or at least stop falling) once the great propaganda exercise got underway. Instead, the steep drop shows no signs of slowing down (Epoch Times).

What does it mean? Something that even yours truly didn't quite anticipate: the Chinese people may be tuning out the Olympics. If this is even remotely true, it would be a tremendous blow to the cadres. The entire purpose of the Beijing Olympiad was to convince the Chinese people that their overlords had the approval of the rest of the world, but it won't matter much if the intended audience isn't paying attention.

For those of us outside Communist China, this is a useful reminder that even within dictatorships, the repressed population can steer the course of events. They may be unable to dislodge the regime at a certain time, but they can determine how much energy the regime must spend to maintain itself. Russian and Eastern European populations bled Soviet Communists dry in the 1970s and 1980s by refusing to acquiesce to tyranny, and by 1991 the Soviets simply ran out of political and economic fuel.

The Chinese Communist Party, of course, learned from that history, and have been skillfully trying to avoid it ever since. However, one of their main sources of "energy" was supposed to be these Olympics; yet we are already seeing that the Communists' expectations may not be fulfilled. That could leave the regime far weaker than it wants when the inevitable post-Olympic hangover sets in.

The Olympiad is not a failure to the Communists - not yet, anyway - but it isn't off to nearly the start that the regime wanted or needed. Thus, the regime may stumble into repeating the very history they hoped to avoid (Chi again):

Nine years after the Berlin Games, Hitler’s Germany lay in rubble and swastikas were wiped off the face of Europe. Nine years after the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Empire soon dissolved. Nine years after the 1984 Games in Sarajevo, Tito’s Yugoslavia was no more.

Can’t wait to see what will happen in 2017.

Much to my pleasant surprise, I'm finding that I can't wait either.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More fakery from Communist China

The reports of Communist China faking parts of the Olympic ceremony continue (BBC):
A pretty girl who won national fame after singing at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was only miming. Wearing a red dress and pigtails, Lin Miaoke charmed a worldwide audience with a rendition of "Ode to the Motherland". But the singer was Yang Peiyi, who was not allowed to appear because she is not as "flawless" as nine-year-old Lin.

What better symbol of the CCP's smoke-and-mirrors show is there (if you prefer humor, check out this joke courtesy of the Epoch Times)? Communist China's modus operandi for nearly six decades has been to hide what isn't "flawless" - be it imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners (Epoch Times), organ harvesting (Canadian Free Press), the Tiananmen Square massacre (Washington Post), the Communists' brutal history (Washington Post), and their brutal present actions at home and abroad (Boycott 2008 and Epoch Times).

Of course, the cadres makes sure anyone who tries to get to the truth is closely watched (Alert Net and Epoch Times - one can only imagine what that extra security could have meant this past weekend). Meanwhile, it's pretty clear that the fakery is working (Washington Times). Yet the truth still seeps out (BBC on Tibet and Washington Post on North Korea). Perhaps the cadres need more lip-synching.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympics open with tragedy, repression, and fakery

How apropos; the opening ceremony in Beijing won rave reviews (well, almost rave reviews - Epoch Times), gave the Communists everything they wanted to begin the propaganda show - and like every other Communist-run production, it was exposed as a fake (London Telegraph). So the Potemkin capital of the Potemkin regime had a Potemkin Olympic ceremony!

That was the good news coming from Beijing, at least compared to the murder of Todd Bachman (San Francisco Chronicle). Relax, I am not claiming that the Communists ordered his murder, but I do have to wonder about something regarding these Games.

Everyone is saying that security in Beijing is as tight as it could possibly be, and from thousands of miles away, I am in no position to argue. That said, I have to ponder just what that security is watching and restricting - namely religious believers (Epoch Times, Washington Post, and Washington Times), political dissidents (Epoch Times and Washington Post), Taiwanese (Epoch Times), Tibetans, etc.

Not to be rude, but I have to ask: if the "security" in Beijing weren't so busy cracking down on dissidents of all stripes, would there have been more of it available to patrol the streets, in particular the tourist areas? According to the AP, "Chinese authorities unsettled by the attack during the Beijing Olympics tightened security at tourist spots around the city" (emphasis added). I have to believe that said security could have been tightened before the Games began without so many being diverted for political reasons.

Moreover, while such a statement may sound outrageous in the particular, it makes sense in the abstract for another reason: when political dissent is considered criminal, actual crime is no longer seen as so outrageous. The cadres themselves have resorted to theft and murder repeatedly to achieve their aims. So from a philosophical perspective as well as a resource one, tyranny and criminality seem to go together.

The Beijing Olympics has garnered a slew of protests and warnings over Communist China's human rights abuses (Boycott 2008, CTV, The Epoch Times, more Epoch Times, and National Review Online). As far as I know, however, I'm the only one to broach this subject. Maybe it's because I'm a little more willing to take the logic train where others fear to go - or maybe it's because I'm way off-base.

Either way, the fake splendor that was the opening ceremony can't erase complaints from the Chinese people about the Games (Epoch Times), or the Communists' continued efforts to replace America as the lead power in the world (BBC and Financial Times) - complete with propping up their Korean colony (One Free Korea). It hasn't even stopped James Dorn's slow shift away from the "engagement" crowd (Washington Times), FWIW.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Four days ago, in response to comments by John McCain regarding Russia and Communist China, I wrote this:
Russia has also received criticism regarding its interference in Georgia and its
occupation of Chechnya. The criticism in the former is undoubtedly deserved, but
Georgia is still its own country . . .

Well, Georgia is still its own country, but my implied statement (that Russia was not occupying Georgia) evaporated this morning (National Review Online - The Corner). I still think McCain was far too optimistic on Communist China, but I'm willing to move a lot closer to his skepticism on Putinist Russia now.

Open Letter to Maurice Strong

Dear Mr. Strong,

I have read you column in Macleans yesterday evening, and I must confess that I found it remarkable - in its deep denial of the truth, servility to the Communist regime that hosts and protects you, and utter lack of recognition of how the free world thinks and acts. With any luck, you may read this and come to see your egregious errors. Even in the more likely possibilities that you remain unmoved by this (or unaware of it), others who have read your column may see this as well so that they may not fall prey to your long-winded illusions.

The first of which is your notion that the restrictions placed upon the Chinese people are "minimal." People of faith through the land you call home suffer far more than "minimal" restrictions on their right to practice their religion (Boycott 2008 and Epoch Times). Nor would attorney Gao Zhisheng, who has been imprisoned and tortured simply because he asked for such "minimal" restrictions to cease (Epoch Times). I would also refer you to the relatives of the Tiananmen massacre victims (See also Pajamas Media).

This is a truth that is recognized throughout the world, and neither your attempts to minimize it nor your subsequent descent into moral relativism can explain it away. Even among the center-left in the free world, where your criticisms of democratic nations are most well-received, the step you take towards dismissing the abuses of the Chinese Communist Party is simply not taken (Boycott 2008 and Epoch Times). Even the most virulent opponents of American foreign policy, such as The Progressive, make clear that, in their words: "This is not to say that Bush’s human rights abuses are equal to China’s." Thus the notion you imply and hope to sell to the free world is in fact rejected across the political spectrum here (to see the political right's response, if you wish, I refer to the Washington Examiner).

Having failed to understand our politics, you move on to miss economics. To claim that Communist China is "utilizing the methods of capitalism" without a functioning rule of law or genuine property rights is to completely misunderstand the term. "Capitalism" - or, to be more precise, a free market economy - does not exist without genuine property rights, and as any rural village citizen could tell you (if they felt safe enough to do so), genuine property rights do not exist in Communist China. Neither does the rule of law, although if you perhaps attempted to earn a profit in Beijing rather than hold down a United Nations sinecure you would probably be more aware of that.

Your discussion of "climate change" is also flawed. The idea that "those who have contributed most to the problem of climate change must take the lead" sounds wonderful, but does nothing to address the fact that exempting Communist China from any post-Kyoto agreement (or limiting its impact on it) will do nothing to impact carbon emission now that Communist China is the largest carbon emitter on Earth. To further use the issue to rant against "the wasteful and indulgent appetites of the rich and their pre-emption of a disproportion of the world's resources" is particularly brazen given that your friends in the CCP elite exercise these indulgences and pre-emptions with far more gall and self-absorption than anyone in the free world (outside of its criminal element) would even dare.

Moving on to your historical errors, I am curious as to how the people of East Turkestan and Tibet would react to your assertion that "China's territorial disputes with its neighbours have been confined to differences over their boundaries rather than attempts to occupy or annex them." Not that any Tibetans or East Turkestanis are allowed to speak freely on this matter, thus you can resort to the typical Communist propaganda on Tibet that is justified by nothing but Nazi lies. Then again, that isn't the only time the Communists have looked to the Nazis for inspiration (Small Dead Animals).

Not that your account of recent history is much better. Your assertion of Communist China's acceptance of the "differences that exist" between Hong Kong and the mainland can only come from someone unwilling to pay attention to the events of the last decade there.

I could not help but note several other issues you do not mention: the Communist aid and comfort to the brutal Sudanese regime (Epoch Times and Washington Post), and Beijing's Korean colony (One Free Korea). I was particularly intrigued by your decision to ignore the latter, as you have been the United Nations' special envoy on the subject for many years. Your silence is deafening.

The rest of your column is standard propaganda from expatriates, but I am compelled to point out this particular nonsense for what it is:
Uninformed and ideologically biased critics of China should ask themselves why it is that the majority of Chinese today are better off and better satisfied than ever, why more overseas Chinese are returning to China, and why more foreigners are enjoying conditions of life here that make them want to stay, even if it involves changing their employment to do so.

I can do more than ask myself these questions, I can actually answer them. The Chinese people may claim to be "better off and better satisfied than ever," but one wouldn't have to go far beyond Beijing to see that this is little more than Communist propaganda (in fact, just spending some time with the legions of appellants/petitioners risking arrests and torture should do the trick, but if you prefer, try Hanyuan, Taishi, or Shanwei).

As for "more overseas Chinese are returning to China," there are likely several reasons, but one of them has to be the extension of the Communist Long Arm of Lawlessness into the free world to intimidate exiles into silence. A brave few refuse to succumb to the mobs (Epoch Times), but such bravery is not common in the human condition. I'm sure many Chinese who would prefer freedom abroad to repression at home are deciding that repression abroad is no better.

Your assertion about foreigners is best answered by Ethan Gutmann's Losing the New China, in which he describes the painful manner in which expatriates are compromised ethically and financially by the regime.

I will acknowledge that your particular reasons for remaining in Beijing, which may have more to do with avoiding a certain inquiry into Iraq's Oil-for-Food program than anything else, have probably blinded you to this reality.

In short, your column managed to get international politics, economics, and history wrong in several areas. As such, I can certainly understand why you could not fathom the anger in the free world over Communist China's behavior (Asian-Pacific Post, Between Heaven and Earth, Boycott 2008, Epoch Times, From On High, National Review Online, Washington Post). Not even those willing to enjoy the Olympic Games can suspend disbelief as you have on the Communist regime (Washington Post).

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I do hope that you see this and that it may open your mind. If so, you might want to consider the radio broadcasts from Reporters Without Borders (Boycott 2008 and the Epoch Times). Otherwise, I can at least hope that those who read your error-prone column will also read this and avoid the errors you have made.

Yours truly,
D.J. McGuire
China e-Lobby

Thursday, August 07, 2008

And so it begins . . .

Today's post will be the last before the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing. I will neither watch nor post on the Communist propaganda bonanza, but news on the periphery - like the treatment of protesters, media, and/or athletes who refuse to follow the script - will get the due attention.

The International Olympic Committee is doing all it can to make lemonade out of lemons. Jacques Rogge even went so far as to say nice things about the air in Beijing, all evidence to the contrary (BBC and the Washington Post). The cadres themselves are making certain there are no "disruptions" (Epoch Times) - to the point of tricking petitioners into thinking their complaints would actually be heard so it would be easier to arrest them (One Free Korea), keeping out foreigners who would have brought up issues like Darfur (Washington Times), having their puppets in Hong Kong keep exiled dissident Yang Jianli out of the city (Washington Post), and, of course, keeping all current jailed dissidents under lock, key, and boot (Boycott 2008). Their brutal assault on two reporters in occupied East Turkestan is still generating outrage (Boycott 2008), but odds are by this time tomorrow the only where you'll still read about that will be this quarter.

Foreign leaders are making their way to Beijing as I write this (National Review Online), as are of course, the various sponsor representatives and other starry-eyed would-be investors. I would advise them to mind the food (BBC) and (for the guys) any surprisingly easy offers of companionship (World Net Daily). Meanwhile, the regime will have its circus to make the Chinese people think the world loves the CCP (Epoch Times), and given that the Chinese people have been browbeaten with this meme for years already (Washington Post), odds are the CCP will achieve what it so dearly wanted out of these Games.

After the party's over, the rest of the world will go back to swallowing the same "engagement" Kool-aid, best seen on the utter lack of accountability demanded of Beijing for the antics of its Korean colony (Epoch Times). I'm not so sure the Chinese people will feel the same once the bill comes due.