I took Amber out in the child carrier this morning for a sweaty walk in the hills overlooking Chung-cheng (Jhong-jheng) Park. As always, there were a lot of insects out and about, including this red one on a yellow flower.
The Beijing Olympics are continuing, but I still can't be bothered much with what's going on, other than a brief look at the headlines in the morning newspaper. I disagreed from the beginning with the IOC's selection of Beijing (too similar to giving the games to Berlin and Moscow), and the torch relay fiasco only served to reinforce the thuggish image I hold of the Chinese government (it didn't do much either to make me feel reassured about the great Chinese public). I didn't see the opening ceremony due to work, but what I've read about it (the fake fireworks, the fake singer and the fake nationalities) certainly hasn't convinced me that the Olympics have acted as a catalyst to "change" or "open up" China. And I'm not the only one who feels this way, either. Hiroyuki Sugiyama of the Yomiuri Shimbun 読売新聞 is none too pleased in "World felt cheated by ceremony. But lip-synching, CG viewed as par for course in quest for 'perfection'", that appears in today's Daily Yomiuri ザ・デイリー読売 http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/olympics/20080823TDY05307.htm:
"Sadly, the Opening Ceremony is only one example of China's disregard for facts and truth. Observers have said the 2008 Summer Games are a political show performed in a 'disguised Beijing.' '[China] should apologize to the world,' a professor at a Beijing university said. Renowned Chinese film director Zhang Yimou 張芸謀, who directed the Opening Ceremony, gave his own work full marks. However, the ceremony was no more than a betrayal of the trust of people around the world who believed what they were seeing was genuine."
It seems Beijing has become one, giant Potemkin village:
"China's hidden agenda is to make the Games appear perfect. Many foreigners visiting Beijing to attend the Olympics are surprised by immaculate green zones and gleaming skyscrapers. However, few have had a chance to witness people evicted from their homes, migrant workers whose wages are being withheld, beggars, activists calling for democracy and people visiting Beijing to appeal to the government about rural hardship. In a park where the government says people can hold demonstrations, protesters are conspicuously absent. The authorities weeded out those people they suspected would harm their 'perfect Olympics' and secreted them far from locations associated with the Games, by forcing them out of the city, placing them in custody, or other means. International Olympic Committee 国際オリンピック委員会 President Jacques Rogge ジャック・ロゲ and many other committee members have said the well-crafted event was excellent. However, a Chinese Communist Party 中国共産党 member--citing a Chinese proverb meaning that truth cannot be hidden--said: 'The Olympic torch is designed like a paper roll. You can't wrap fire with paper.'"
Just as in the old days of the "Workers Paradise" that supposedly existed in Stalin's USSR, when it comes to modern China, some Westerners only see what they want to see. The article closes out by stating:
"China's priority vis-a-vis the Olympics is to boost the government's leadership by exhibiting the strength of a superpower, while satisfying a patriotic public. The Opening Ceremony is only a small part of China's political self-aggrandizement. The nation's ostentation is founded on this philosophy. A Beijing citizen said, 'Chinese weren't surprised by lip-synching [at the Olympics] as we are constantly surrounded by phony stuff.'"
Here in Taiwan, it is the 50th anniversary of the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis 金門砲戦 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Taiwan_Strait_crisis, and the Daily Yomiuri has a short story entitled "Jinmen Island bridge to link Taiwan, China" http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/world/20080823TDY05308.htm:
"Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of China's bombing of Chinmen (Jinmen) Island 金門 off the coast of mainland China. Under Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's (Ba Eikyū) 馬英九 open policy toward China, the small island has been changing from a military outpost to an experimental field for friendship between China and Taiwan."
Right away, this article gets off to a bad start, because it was the previous independence-minded presidential administration that opened up the so-called "mini three-links" between Chinmen and the Chinese mainland. What the Ma government is doing is:
"...boost(ing) the so-called three (links) 三通 --commerce, navigation and communication--that directly connect the island and mainland China. This strategy has enabled Taiwanese and foreigners to directly commute between mainland China and the island on the ferry."
But wait, there's more:
"...construction of a bridge connecting the island and Xiamen 廈門 is planned. The islanders...consider the bridge a turning point in the island's development. (Chinmen) county will lobby for construction of the bridge to begin next year. In addition to the bridge, plans to build a water pipeline and a harbor tunnel are under discussion. Chinmen's population is about 80,000 and the island is not home to any major industries. The islanders hope to work with China to make Chinmen an international tourist resort...The Ma administration intends to remove a ban on an influx of Chinese capital, and Chinmen County 金門県 hopes to construct tourist facilities using investment from Chinese businesses."
The story concludes by saying:
"Fifty years have passed since Chinmen was bombed by China, heightening fears that a war would break out between China and the United States. The island, which used to be an outpost against a Chinese threat during the Chiang Kai-shek (Shō Kaiseki) 蒋介石 era, is changing to become symbol of reconciliation."
Or of the brave new world the KMT 中国国民党 is building for Taiwan. The thing about Chinmen is that, officially at least, it is part of Fujian Province, and not Taiwan proper. Should that day come when pigs take to the air, and figure skating becomes a popular activity in Hell, (in other words, when China recognizes the existence of Taiwan as an independent state), what would happen to Chinmen (and Matsu 馬祖)? Would the islands remain part of a Republic of Taiwan, or would they be returned to China as part of a negotiated settlement? Back in the real world, the more correct question might be to ask if Chinmen and Matsu are going to be some sort of test case (or dry run) for the KMT's long-range plans for Taiwan. And I think we all know what those are.