April 13, 2008

The Beijing Olympics

A half dozen or so years ago, during the debate over which city should host the 2008 Olympics, I was against China getting it, for all the reasons being bandied about today -- lack of free speech, lack of democracy, oppression of Tibet, and air pollution. If the Chinese government wanted the Olympics so much, then they should be withheld until such time as they've earned them as a reward for their progress.

But, the Olympics were promised to Beijing, anyway, and the Chinese have since spent vast amounts of money getting ready for them. They haven't improved on freedom, democracy, or Tibet, but they haven't gotten worse, either. They've lived up their end of the bargain, such as it was.

Yet, now, enlightened opinion wants to punish China's Olympics for all the same sins China was committing back when it was handed the Olympics in the first place. All the evidence suggests that this moral grandstanding by Westerners would just infuriate the Chinese people, who are always looking for reasons to be angry at the round eyes, and strengthen the Beijing government's grip.

The runner-up city for hosting the 2008 Olympics was Paris. I blogged back in 2002:

Yet, just because French anti-Americanism is not our fault doesn't mean it's not our problem. We should be looking for low-cost ways to placate France's wounded amour-propre. Backing Paris over Beijing for the 2008 Olympics would have been an easy one. I mean, Paris would have been a fantastic place to attend the Olympics, while Beijing's air pollution is horrendous. It was a no-brainer, but we blew it.

Sure, afterwards the French would have bragged about how much better Paris was as the site of the Olympics compared to Atlanta in 1996 (which, no doubt, would have been true), but, so what? If we are going to be the sole superpower and "provide the world with adult supervision," as one of my readers says, then we've got to grow up. Sure, it would be fun to appoint Jonah Goldberg ambassador to France, but if we are going to be the global hegemon, we've got to avoid juvenile pissing wars with our lackeys.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

Well put. I recall when the Bush administration came in, it was said the 'grownups are in control again', or something to that effect. Would be nice if someone acted professionally.

Anonymous said...

Summers in Beijing are pretty awful, but the pollution isn't as bad as during winter.

Here's something I wrote about living in Beijing that describes its summers:

Beijing in Flux

I don't think many outdoor records will be broken there. It is usually either as humid as a steam bath or pouring rain. As I wrote, every fourth or fifth day is tolerable, but that's a relative concept in a Chinese summer.

One funny thing is the bees. They scared the devil out of me at first, but it seems Chinese bees, despite the huge swarms of them, are very docile creatures who aren't nearly as aggressive as our local yellowjackets.

Anonymous said...

Too true, Steve; the sentiment against the Beijing Olympics is extremely childish and counterproductive. To let political differences, serious though they may be, get in the way is exactly the opposite of the spirit of the games. Nazi Germany hosted the Olympics, so did the USSR, and that is how it should be.

Anonymous said...

Nothing can be permitted to interfere with the Chinese organ harvest.

Anonymous said...

"lack of free speech, lack of democracy, oppression of Tibet, and air pollution."

Each of these arguments can sincerely be made against the Vancouver Olympics.

I'm prepared to destroy anyone in debate who would claim China is less free than Canada.

Start with public spending as a % of GDP, then move on to free speech matters. I got news for you kids: taxes are much lower and speech is freer in China than it is in Canada. Nobody is losing their jobs in China for opposing gay marriage, nobody is getting fined a thousand bucks by the Chinese Human Rights Commission for hurt feelings.

There exists in Caledonia Ontario a state of open armed rebellion against the Canadian government, not 100 miles from the America border. It meets the textbook definition of terrorism.

Quebec was prevented from determining their own fate when the Canadian federal government cheated like hell to barely win the last referendum on Quebec sovereignty.

America under Bush and his predecessors has a better record of protecting the environment than their Canadian counterparts. Vancouver has a yellow smog in the summer.

Canada, like the Soviet Union in 1980 whose games we boycotted, invaded and occupied Afghanistan.

Each and every measure leaves Canada wanting. It is *China* that should be boycotting *Canada*, not the other way around. It is time to engage and destroy in debate the Western elders who would propagate myths that not a five year old would believe anymore. We suck.

Anonymous said...

ROFL! China is never going to be democratic within our lifetimes. The whole idea that economic growth would lead to political liberalization was just silly; look at Russia (which despite industrialization remains a dictatorship, and the Russians like it that way), Nazi Germany (which became a peaceful, democratic country after being defeated in war), and possibly Japan (again, defeated in war).

Without killing or exiling the old elites, regime change is very difficult. (And no I don't support the Iraq war--there were endogenous democratic elements in Germany, and the Japanese just like to copy whoever the dominant power is.)

Anonymous said...

Well, yeah, true enough, but the IOC doesn't exactly have a stellar record in this area. The 1936 games were held in Berlin and the 1980 games in Moscow.

Anonymous said...

Steve, it's all about rich yuppies feeling good about their imaginary Tibetan Friends.

Besides, the Olympics were awarded by the IOC, over whom the US has limited if any influence: Softball, Baseball, and other US sports have been dropped or will be dropped.

Europeans run the IOC and they were bribed more by the Chinese than the French.

Like most things, it has little to do with the US (or Clinton) and pretty much everything to do with *them*. Though the fuss over Tibet is predictable. While Tibetans probably get some fairly stiff treatment, the real scandal in Beijing is their support for "blood for oil" in the Sudan (brutal, Islamist nutcase regime with genocide of the day), and Burma (prison nation). I am not unsympathetic to the idea that a hereditary god-King (the Dalai Lama) is not a way to run a proper modern nation.

[The Chinese DO have a huge problem in XianXing and the Uighers, and it will only get worse. I would not be shocked by terrorism by those guys or the Hui Muslims (look like Han, they are Han, except ... Muslim) at Beijing.]

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know why Steve cares if China lacks free speech, democracy, oppresses Tibet, and has air pollution, and why he thinks we should punish China for it.

Democracy leads to the situation that we see now in the states: power in the hands of those who manipulate public opinion, namely the media and educational institutions. Why is that better than having a 5 member committee in control?

China oppresses Tibet for internal unity - do you want to blacklist Russia for Chechnya, blacklist the U.S. for Iraq (for the U.S., the whole world is apparently necessary to control in order to maintain internal order), the list goes on and on.

As far as free speech goes - yeah, I guess you have it in theory, but there's a reason you're blacklisted, Steve, from power - you don't tow the line with regards to limiting your own speech, which is the only way to attain real power here.

And pollution? Give me a break. Do you actually subscribe to that global warming insanity?

The U.S. may be a lot more subtle than China, and the control and harassment aren't physical, but your moral indignation imo is highly misplaced.

Anonymous said...

"moral grandstanding" is dead on. Consider the British editorial commentaries of late. UK commentary omits to mention that the British massacred thousands of Tibetans in the 20th century.It was less than 50 years between the British invasion of Tibet and the Chinese one. If your going to take a moralizing tone you should at least mention your own sordid history in Tibet

Anonymous said...

I think that Anonymous had a pretty good point about Canada.

If Steve lived in Canada, wouldn't his blogging run afoul of all those "anti-Hate" laws, and maybe get him sent off to prison?

On the other hand, my impression is that huge numbers of Chinese bloggers write about the same sort of stuff that Steve does, and nobody bothers them.

Unknown said...

Any comparison of freedom between China and the West is ridiculous, e.g. all blogspot and wordpress blogs are blocked by China's firewall. There are ways to go around it of course, but I'd imagine that this "unsubtle" method is more effective in controlling what people believe than the "subtle" methods in the West.

Anonymous said...

Testing99 said: "I am not unsympathetic to the idea that a hereditary god-King (the Dalai Lama) is not a way to run a proper modern nation."

How inconvenient that most Tibetans dont seem to agree, still whats their opinion got to do with anything, not when it comes to building a proper modern nation.

Anonymous said...

"testing99 said...

I am not unsympathetic to the idea that a hereditary god-King (the Dalai Lama) is not a way to run a proper modern nation."

True, but then Tibet is not a modern nation. It's more nearly that kind of nation one would expect to be ruled by a God-King. I think the Tibetans should be left alone to have any kind of country they want. And if the kind of country they want to be be is one that takes its bhuddism so seriously that they let the Chinese roll right over them, then too bad for them. In any event, it isn't our fight.

Anonymous said...

If the ChiComs are smart, they can completely undermine Tibet by publicizing the Dalai Lama's positions on sexual morality.

Liberal Americans romanticize Buddhism because they imagine it's a happy, undemanding, nature-friendly religion for hedonists and navel-gazers.

In reality, Dalai Lama regularly condemns sexual deviancy in the harshest possible terms. The Hollywood Left that loves Tibetan Buddhism so much in the abstract wouldn't be so fond of the real thing.

If the ChiComs simply published a book called "The Real Dalai Lama" and filled it with some of his anti-gay pronouncements, American liberal support for Tibet would vanish in a hurry.

Anonymous said...

If Steve lived in Canada, wouldn't his blogging run afoul of all those "anti-Hate" laws, and maybe get him sent off to prison?

This is more or less true in all of Europe as well. A Finnish blogger I know (but who I don't read, as his blog isn't exactly insightful) recently got fined and ordered to take down some of his postings. The reason? He was spreading propaganda about Africans. The evidence? Well, among other things, he had linked to VDARE...

The wording of the decision of the court made it pretty clear that they just made up reasons to shut down an immigration critical site, which, really, is the stated goal of the "minority ombudsman" whose job is to scout the net for those evil incitement sites. That's easy, since the laws against "incitement against an ethnic group" are so vague that almost anything will fit. The most important building blocks of authoritarianism are not strict bans: they're vague laws that the authorities can interpret however they wish.

And this is in Finland, the least multicultist of the Western European countries. You can imagine just how bad it is in Sweden.

Anonymous said...

The policy of economic detente has turned China from a totalitarian communist nation to a classical fascist nation. The question is what happens from here -- 200 million newly minted middle class aren't going to be happy when their economy goes down with the US economy, and they won't be allowed to place blame on the Chinese government. That leaves blame squarely on the West...

AmericanGoy said...

Except France and, by extension, is NOT a lackey of the USA.

With the sole exception of Poland, which is a caricature of a country.

Anonymous said...

Why is Poland a caricature of a country?

Anonymous said...

Re: "Why is Poland a caricature of a country?" Better question,"WHAT country is it a caricature OF?" In regards to China,the PCers want all the young Olympic athletes to take this on their well-muscled shoulders:they expect little teen gymansts to speak out for Darfur. They may even idiotically push for a boycott.However,Phil Knight and Michael Jordan will NOT be required to stop making million$ and million$ from Chinese factories making their overpriced shoes!!!