In a few hours the opening ceremony will start (if anyone else says anything about today being 08/08/08 I shall smile feebly). Amnesty International reported that some human rights improvements had occurred in the build up (for example senior rather than local courts deciding the death penalty) but there has been a deterioration – not least the forced eviction of people from their homes to make way for construction to cater for the event.
While the AI has also been pushing for less Internet censorship, it is worth noting that any WordPress bloggers going to China will not be able to blog directly – wordpress is one of many sites that are blocked. One blogger, Splendidelles, got around that by e mailing the blog she wanted to send from China to me. To console yourself you can now get access to Playboy.
Whether Chinese nationalism – that seems to be the new under pinning of state ideology rather than Marxism – will end up being a cause for concern in international relations time will tell. Meanwhile men in baseball caps roam around venues and if they spot any trouble it will be dealt with promptly. “Positive propaganda” is the order from on high to the media. Yet there are voices in authority calling for change:
After the Olympic party (a dour one if security officials do not relax), many in China are likely to wonder whether it was really all worth it. Wang Yang, a member of the ruling Politburo and one of the more outspoken leaders (a rare breed), has called for tolerance of public grievances. Attempting to suppress people’s views might create an “opinion quake lake”, he said recently, referring to the perilously unstable lakes that were formed by landslides during the Sichuan earthquake. China’s leaders would do well to take heed.
Quote from The Economist “Welcome to a (rather dour) party” July 31st 2008.