The 2022 Beijing Olympics will start shortly. It’s a world removed from the glitz, glamour and forced cheer of the 2008 Summer Games. Back in 2008, the Summer Games were Chinese debut in the same way that the 1964 Tokyo Games were Japan’s or the 1988 Seoul Games were South Korea’s. Of course, China in 2008 was not Japan in 1964 nor was it South Korea in 1988.
By 1964 Japan (with American oversight) had developed into something resembling a liberal democracy. In 1988, South Korea had made significant progress towards becoming a prosperous, liberal democracy. The Seoul Games put South Korea under the global magnifying glass and the country’s authoritarian leaders were not in any position to alienate and antagonise anyone. Beijing 2008 was China showing that it was a major global power. Heads of state from most major and many minor countries came to celebrate together. On the ground, it was not the most pleasant of games. Athletes and observers noted that for all its technical brilliance, the 2008 Beijing Games were tightly scripted and Chinese authorities ensured that nothing potentially embarrassing happened. Sydney 2000 was good-natured, cheeky and filled with lots of banter and larrikinism. The 2012 London games were brilliantly quirky, fun and cheerful. The 2008 games were overwhelming and full of subtle creepiness.
Of course, life went on. London was London, Sochi was, well… Russian?, Rio was… Brazilian? Pyeongchang was a success — South Korea had come a long way from 1988 and there was much hope. North Korea and South Korea met, North Korean and South Korean athletes played joint matches. The Japanese male figure skaters shut the insufferable American talking heads up and won gold and silver.
Japan did its best with a difficult situation in 2020/21. The second Tokyo Games, for all of their inherent challenges, went relatively smoothly. For all of its disappointments, the Japanese handled the situation commendably. The 2022 Games are… Well…
A few days ago, the Wall Street Journal had a picture of the official Chinese welcome to Yanqing, Beijing’s northern county. People of indeterminate sex wore biohazard suits and not just because of the proximity of a stinky tofu plant. Athletes were put under strict instructions to bring burner phones with them as the app that the Chinese authorities required them to install were so riddled with security flaws that espionage was the only possible explanation. Chinese authorities insisted on collecting the DNA of all arriving athletes. That the games would be held in a designated area of Beijing is not without precedent. The Japanese a mere few months ago did the same. The primary difference being that organised excursions were permitted. People who had received a negative test result were permitted to mingle with the Japanese public, to see Tokyo. The same will not be possible in Beijing. The athletes, subjected to even more intense screening by Chinese authorities which extends to anal swabs, will not be permitted to see the Chinese capital. They will not be permitted to intermingle with the Chinese public.
This year, only 35 countries have committed to having heads of state or senior officials partake in the opening ceremony. Only two major economies, South Korea and Russia, have chosen to follow tradition. Does it really matter, though? This is Xi Jinping’s sordid coronation. He’s neutralised all opposition. A mere two years after China brought the world to its knees, the world is sending its top athletes to have swabs stuck up their butts by Chinese officials. The diplomatic boycott is a joke. What does it matter if Boris prattles on about Peppa Pig in Kyiv rather than Beijing? What does it matter of Morrison, Trudeau, Jacinda and Emmanuel Mascholz give it a miss? The world bows to even the cruellest demands that China levies. As the world is only gradually moving away from the collective nervous breakdown it suffered, Xi Jinping is still basking in the afterglow of giving the headline speech at Davos.
The reality is that China got away with it. The reality is that Xi got away with it. The WHO, the ICO, the WEF, the UN… All dance to China’s tune. In 2019, the virus was still referred to as Wuhan Virus or Wuhan Coronavirus. Gradually, it shifted to Coronavirus and then Covid-19. Gradually, variants were no longer named after the places where they were first detected. They were given Greek letters. All, of course, except Xi. There were two things that could stand in Xi’s way. The Shanghai Faction could have used the outbreak to undermine the Beijing Faction, but doing so risked causing the entire CCP to be vulnerable. Obviously, that was not going to happen. Just in the last few weeks, those who would happily see Xi go the way of his political enemies have bowed to the perceived inevitable. Jiang Zemin wants to oust Xi Jinping, even a few months ago he would have been capable of posing a real threat. Now? His own survival is on the line. The other threat was Trump. For the first time since the 1960s an American president understood the threat that China’s long term goals posed. For the first time since Nixon, an American president was willing and able to exact a heavy price on China. He’s gone. In his place, the weakest, most compromised American president since the 1850s.
Of course, Xi will not last forever. He is nearly 70. The average Chinese male lives to about 75. The average Beijinger lives a good 5-10 years less. Xi managed to get his ducks in a row this time. But… He is highly likely to hold power for at least five more years. That will allow him to reshape the Party and the Chinese state machine in his image. Even if an opposing faction takes over, they will have far more power than they would have. All ushered in by officials in hazmat suits sticking swabs up athletes’ butts.
17 thoughts on “No Ordinary Games”
Hello Christopher. Have you read this article in the Spectator?
On a slightly different tack, I cannot for the life of me understand why the world’s athletes, both as individuals and at a national level, have chosen not to boycott these games. Given that tiny little Rhodesia was banned as was its larger neighbour South Africa because of the relatively minor injustices perpetrated by their governments, how on earth has China escaped condemnations of the social justice warriors. Given the idiotic knee bending of sportsmen and women of every discipline in support of BLM fascism, we all know that athletes are the ultimate such warriors. Let us not forget either, the US led boycott of the Moscow Olympics. The hypocrisy is puke inducing.
Sipu: It’s all very simple. The Chinese have studied the decline, collapse and aftermath of the USSR in great deal. After all, for the entirety of Soviet history, the USSR was the bigger, wealthier and more globally influential of the two. If the Soviet Union, itself an extension of the old Russian Empire, could collapse so quickly and leave in its wake a much weaker Russia, what is to prevent the same from happening to China?
The Soviet Union collapsed because it could not economically sustain itself. It was influential culturally. The USSR invested heavily in sports, in arts, in high culture. To this day, I’d rather watch Soviet/Russian films than American. But… The only way it could sustain itself for as long as it did was to be economically cut off. There was limited trade between the West and the Soviet bloc, but Soviet finished goods simply couldn’t compete with those from Europe. Who wanted a Lada when you could drive a Volkswagen? Why bother with a Volga when you could have a Lincoln or Mercedes? Soviet shoes were functional, but they lacked the style and quality of Italian or British shoes. The USSR collapsed because it could not compete with the West economically and as soon as isolation was no longer sustainable, its days were numbered.
The Chinese have ensured that their position is secured through economic dominance and access. The NBA in the USA is a good example. Their largest market is in China. They cannot afford to antagonise the Chinese. They’ll be full “woke” in the USA, in order to placate the leftist social media mob, but they won’t dare raise a single eyebrow in Beijing. Western athletic organisations depend on wealthy sponsors. Coca Cola sponsors the US Olympic Team, for example, but they also rely on the Chinese market for their profit margins. China used that to force Coca Cola to decide between losing access to the Chinese market or to put pressure on American officials via the US Olympics team. After all, athletic prowess is one of the few things that the US still has going for it. China has ensured one-way economic integration. Western companies are reliant on Chinese investments and Chinese market access in ways that Chinese companies do not rely on Western investments or access to Western markets. The USA could lead a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games simply because it didn’t carry a heavy economic price. Rhodesia and South Africa could be isolated because, economically, they were insignificant. China is not insignificant.
It’s made worse by the fact that, to the (wo)man Western governments lack credible leadership. Who takes Trudeau seriously? The only reason why he’s won the last two elections is because Her Majesty’s Loyal Canadian Opposition is an opposition of no opposition. Macron has no support in France and he’s loathed by other countries. Germany is utterly reliant on Chinese dosh. They might make the occasional noise in China’s general direction, but they can’t do much more than that. The German economic machine is like a jerry-rigged 1978 VW masquerading as a Humvee. Italy and Spain are hardly credible at the moment. Biden is utterly compromised and his family are neck-deep in dirty Chinese business dealings.
Sipu: I agree wholeheartedly. Non-attendance by political types amounts to no more than a diplomatic slap on the face but, if the athletes themselves stayed away, that would really mean something regarding actual human opinion. Who needs a bunch of officials taking up the best seats anyway? And why have all those athletes developed such an addiction to their particular games that it overrides common sense?
For the record, I am not anything resembling a sports fan. Also, thank you for the link to that Spectator piece. A good article, that.
Add me to sipu and cog.
All these stupid bloody games should be stopped, a complete waste of time and money. Whole bloody lot of wastrels should go and get a real job.
Nobody should be paid to run around a field or snow etc, it should merely be recreational and exercise.
Think if all that effort was put into growing vegetables!
“Think if all that effort was put into growing vegetables!”
Yes, well I think Westminster has been working fairly successfully to achieve that.
I went to China in 2007 and loved it.
But since then it seems that the West has sold its soul, its economic soul, to China.
Christopher’s comment re the fact that China studied the decline and collapse of Russia and ensured that it didn’t follow the same path seems pretty accurate…
… and all the time we in the West, arrogantly, thought we were dealing with a country just about to accept our values. We even taught everyone to interact with China according to their culture. Did they bother to learn about ours? No. They understood all too well that the bottom line with our industries was to keep prices low to make greater profits – and China provided the way to do just that.
I don’t know where we go from here – all my family is struggling to find goods not ‘Made in China’ – but we can’t.
Perhaps it is time to stop legitimising China by allowing it to participate in such events like the Olympics. There is a long history of ‘politicising’ sports events.
Cog & Christina: you are probably not aware that there has been a pretty large backlash here in Oz that all the members of the Olympic team in Tokyo received awards in our New Year’s Honours.
While I might not agree with you Christina that their effort might have been better had they grown veggies – I am absolutely convinced that there are far more worthy and interesting things to support!
Boadicea: It’s not just economic soul. We’ve grown far too willing to embrace China’s approaches and models without question. I wouldn’t say that we’re quite China, yet. We, in the West, are still far too sloppy and uneven in our approaches and enforcement for that. But… We still have been far too willing to copy China without looking beyond the official rhetoric.
China learnt a lot about how the USSR collapsed. China also learnt a lot about its own collapse in the long 19th century. The Chinese understand the West only all too well. The millions of Chinese who studied at Western universities came back with that knowledge — academic and practical. The Chinese diaspora feed information about the West and its attitudes back to China. That isn’t to say that they’re all spies for the CCP — far from it — but they do open a window onto the West. The Chinese have also purchased many Westerners. The scholarships, the jobs in China, access to China partners and markets… The problem isn’t that China doesn’t understand the West — it’s that the West doesn’t understand China. The Chinese have always been perfectly upfront about their ultimate intentions: to become the dominant country. The problem is that too many in the West deluded themselves into thinking that the Chinese were on the road to becoming Westernised, that China would become a new Singapore on a massive scale. Never mind that Singapore is a trading city-state that has no choice but to compete on quality and transparency. China can afford to do as it pleases. The only thing that has really changed is that Xi Jinping is more personally ambitious, more power-made than Hi Jintao or Jiang Zemin. He is also far more ruthless. His goals are the same as anyone else in the Party, however.
I enjoyed my time in China for all its travails and problems. It’s no longer what it was, the golden years have come and gone. I doubt that I will return. As for avoiding Chinese goods… Difficult, but growing easier as Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. are stepping up production and China is proving too difficult (and expensive) to deal with.
I regret I shall not be alive when the “Belt and Road’ finally goes tits up, because it will.
China reckons to confiscate minerals etc for non payment of debts. When many countries rebel at the same moment, I think that China will find that they have spread themselves too thin from greed.
Will be amusing to watch, all Empires fall, didn’t anyone tell them that?
We buy nothing from China, would rather pay n times for something made properly elsewhere. Its is nearly all crap.
Or just go without!
We needed a new water pump for our well at the last house. Chinese crap $600 with a 6 month guarantee.
$3000 or so for a New York State pump with a ten year guarantee! We were advised not to buy the Chinese crap as they evidently had a reputation for lasting about a week longer than 6 months!!! We bought the USA.
People are such fools.
You are fortunate Christina in that you have an alternative, albeit an expensive one. Here in Zim, which is totally in hock to China, everything is Chinese and it is all crap. And my goodness, they are destroying the countryside with their strip mining. The beautiful farming region where I grew up has been turned into an eroded and poisoned wasteland. Two very disappointing races.
Oh sipu how absolutely ghastly. What disgusting creatures the Chinese are, wreck the world and then eat dogs. I do hope next time they manage to breed a pandemic to which they have no resistance. The less of them the better.
What are they mining?
Hi Christina, the area where I grew up is very rich in chrome, but the whole country has gold, nickel, lithium, diamonds and host of other minerals. The Chinese lend money to the Zim government which of course never gets repaid and so they acquire mineral rights and agricultural land. Google Earth provides timelines that offer a useful but depressing view of how some parts of the country have changed over the past 20 years when the farms were invaded. If I look at what our farm was like in 2002 and then compare it to what it looks like today, it does not fill me with joy.
That I can believe. The slants are ruthless, so many countries now in hock up to their necks. My point earlier about them getting over extended when a few of the natives reckon to get their own countries back. Would be rather good to see the Chinese fighting guerilla wars on 20 fronts or so simultaneously. Just let it happen, please.
Well thank heavens that heap of crap is over. Not a wild success from the emanating verbals. About the only thing I reckon it achieved was to delay the invasion of the Ukraine by a fortnight. Don’t think Putin wanted to steal his little mate’s thunder. Wars beat Olympics any day of the week.
Please God when, oh when, are they going to stop this rotating shit show of the Olympics round third world rat hole dictatorships? Relocate to Greece permanently, it was their fault they even started!
Must escape to the greenhouse today for restorative calm. Am busy potting on, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes. How fortunate are plants that know nothing of slants and dictators. I’m coming back as a tree next time!
Talking about trees, Carmarthenshire has had a carnage of their mature trees. Have rung several farming friends to check on them after that storm and so many trees have come down. One friend had to cut up six to get to the road even! Took him 48 hours with no electricity or water in the house. Thank God for wood burning stoves! I shall have to agitate them to replant in the spring. As I pointed out, if no replants, what is going to fall on your grandchildren in 100 years time? Caused much mirth.
Hello Christina. While it is sad to learn about the fallen trees, forests will recover if allowed. Having said that, the Greek government has, I understand, committed dreadful crimes by allowing all those enormous wild fires of late. By all accounts they were deliberately negligent in heeding the warnings of locals and other experts. But it has meant that they can use the cleared land to build wind, solar and other renewable energy enterprises.
I am glad you are growing eggplants. I have been cultivating quantities in my garden. Though I am much more of a carnivore than I am a vegetarian, I am very fond of them. The other half makes and sells lots of eggplant based products such as baba ganoush and various salads, including ricotta wrapped inside thin strips of roasted brinjal. Jolly good they are too.
Hi Sipu: sad to hear that China is busily wrecking your country… they have, courtesy of the rest of us, the money to buy what they want, to do what they want therein, and to demand what they want thereafter.
When I read stories like yours I recall the very well-informed -and-travelled young Chinese guy who acted as a guide when I went to China in 2006. Long time ago I know – but I’ve never forgotten what he said about how China was telling the world that it was protecting its forests and trees… but was pushing other, poorer countries to to demolish their forests to provide China with the wood it required.
Christina: didn’t watch a bit of the ‘load of crap’ either.
I have long thought the Olympics should be returned to Olympia, with those countries wanting to compete paying towards the building, maintenance, etc of the site.
I don’t have any problem with including events and participants, like women, in the modern Games
However, I believe the original games required participants to contest naked
… what a great idea – then we might just see that men are men and the women are really women.
Nice one girl! Worth emerging from the greenhouse when they get round to that!
I have to confess that I did watch some of the Winter Olympics – the curling – because all the team members are Scottish. Scotland provided the only two medals Team GB won. Not sure how naked Winter Olympics might work, Boadicea. Unpleasant images of shrivelled things, though not the stones of course. There was a report that a skier, Finnish I think, had a nasty frozen incident. I was a bit concerned that the Chinese organisers might have provided cheap, crappy Chinese stones, but they all came from Ailsa Craig so that was OK.