The 2008 Summer Olympics will punctuate three decades of development and test China's global legitimacy. They've already transformed the way millions of people think and live. Seattleite and Fulbright researcher Daniel Beekman brings you Beijing.
July 14, 2008 2:45 PM
Posted by Daniel Beekman
Waist-deep in preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing's organizers are engaged in risk managment.
So much could go right - the Chinese have promised to deliver an unforgettable Olympis.
And so much could go wrong. Smoggy skies threaten, as do terrorists hailing from inside China and abroad. China's imprisonment of dissidents and ties with war-torn Sudan lurk just off-stage. A wide array of activists may protest in Beijing. Journalists from America and Europe are set to snoop around.
Somewhat understandably, the city has responded by stepping up security at subway stations, monitoring online forums and withholding visas. The People's Liberation Army is on high-alert.
And what about China's common folk? Deeply invested in these Olympics, they're itching to help. As one ubitquitous Beijing billboard blares, '2008 Olympic Games: I participate, I support, I am happy.'
Many Beijingers haved joined the Games' volunteer corps. According to the city's organizers, the best way for other citizens to lend a hand...know and follow the rules.
Here's a taste of pre-Olympics legal awareness promotion in Beijing.
RULES #98, #99 and #100 FROM THE 'BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES LEGAL HANDBOOK'
Rule #98 - Do foreign reporters interviewing wtihin the boundaries of our country need a related government department's authorization?
Foreign reporters interviewing in China need only to obtain permission from the work unit or individual they are interviewing, and need not apply to a related government department for authorization.
"As a Chinese athlete, what special feelings do you have about participating in the Olympic Games?"
Rule #99 - May foreign reporters hire Chinese citizens to assist with interviews and work?
Foreign reporters may hire Chinese citizens through the external affairs service unit assigned to assist foreign reporters.
"I need a hand." "I am an official from the external affairs service unit assigned to assist foreign reporters. This is Ms. Xiaoli."
Rule #100 - Will the stipulations for foreign reporters in China during the period of the Olympic Games still apply after the Games conclude?
The stipulations were applied January 1, 2007 and will be abolished October 17, 2008.
"Will the stipulations still apply?"
NOTICE ADDRESSED TO LOCAL LANDLORDS, POSTED TO APARTMENT BUILDINGS
Warning for property rental during the period of the Olympic Games
A peaceful and safe Olympic Games are as important as Taishan mountain is heavy
A peaceful and safe Olympics are everyone's responsibility
Resident friend: Hello!
The world's gaze is on Beijing for the 29th session of the Olympic Games. At the appointed time, our capital Beijing will welcome masses of foreign friends here to watch the Games and travel. In order to build a good social environment during the period of the Olympic Games, and also in order to safeguard your rights, the rights of your tenants and overall security, if you have rented property go through the registration formalities, please promptly report to your community service station and notify personnel of the rental and your tenant's situation. If you rent to a foreigner, you must supervise public security and visit your local police station to handle temporary lodging registration.
Thank you residents for your general cooperation and support. Your cooperation and support represents positive participation in the Olympic Games in the form of practical action, and also guarantees that we can perform our duty to keep the Olympic Games safe.
Office of the Beijing Transient Population and Rental Management Committee
Beijing Police Department
Beijing Construction Committee
July 14, 2008 2:19 PM
Posted by Daniel Beekman
Blogging Beijing is a research blog, not a news-aggregator. Rather than analyze the many reports generated every day in and/or about the 2008 Olympic Games, Blogging Beijing explores China's dynamic culture, landscape and people.
I include a list of 'newslinks' below each Blogging Beijing entry for readers who want to know more about the city and the Games. But once in a while, a story or work of research calls for extra attention.
This ongoing report from Danwei (a Beijing-based English language website) and this comprehensive book review for The New Republic speak to the myriad questions spectators, journalists, academics, politicians, activists and athletes are asking about next month's Olympics.
The former deals with a series of outdoor advertisements that juxtapose China's human rights violations and Olympic Games, placing violent images of abuse in sports settings. The ads were alledgedly produced for Amnesty International by the Paris-based advertising firm TWBA.
TWBA has also been credited with producing Adidas' popular and patriotic Beijing Olympics ad series. The Adidas ads feature Chinese Olympians soaring above China's blurry masses. Whether TWBA's other series has gone or will go public isn't clear. Regardless, images from the series have circulated the Internet in China and provoked some angry responses from Chinese online.
These two campaigns represent two ways of looking at China and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
(Note: For more on Adidas' Olympic ads, see 'Beijing 2008 Q&A: Jon Brilliant' on Blogging Beijing.)
The latter discusses six recently-published books on Beijing's Games and modern China: 'Beijing: From Imperial Capital to Olympic City' by Lillian M. Li, Alison J. Dray-Novey and Haili Kong, 'Beijing's Games: What the Olympics Mean to China' by Susan Brownell, 'China's Great Leap: The Beijing Games and Olympian Human Rights Challenges' edited by Minky Worden, 'Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Comtemporary China' by Anne-Marie Brady and 'Owning the Olympics: Narratives of the New China' edited by Monroe E. Price and Daniel Dayan."
(Note: For an interview with Brownell, an American anthropologist and expert on Chinese sports, see 'Beijing 2008 Q&A: Dr. Susan Brownell' on Blogging Beijing.)
Andrew J. Nathan, the reviewer (a Columbia University professor and Human Rights Watch in China board co-chair) covers a lot of ground - from the imprisonment of Chinese activists, to International Olympic Committee history, to upward mobility in China's party bureaucracy and the Chinese propaganda apparatus.
Nathan argues that, since Richard Nixon reached out to China decades ago, the People's Republic has 'modernized, 'Westernized,' 'civilized' and yet remained apart. According to Nathan, China has grown into the 2008 Olympics independently, and the world has no choice but to live with a distinctly Chinese Games.
UPDATE: This story from London's Telegraph sheds light on Amnesty's graphic ad series.
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