Saturday, July 19, 2008

Really Overreacting?

Over the past few weeks, everyone has commented on the seemingly paranoid response by the Chinese government to ensuring a safe Olympics. The Financial Times published an article titled "Threat of 'no-fun' Olympics" with former Olympic marketer Michael Payne stressing that China needs to have a festival atmosphere and "smile" more.

There is ample evidence of over-planning in Beijing. The enforcement of old and new rules for obtain visas, as well as the difficulty for some to even stay in the country for the summer, has certainly cut down on some of the fun around the country. This goes with Beijing's decision to close entertainment venues by 2 am (and I thought the bars never closed), and putting restrictions on outdoor seating for restaurants, bars, and barbecues. Some of the biggest stories of paranoia deal with the threat of terrorism during the games. Beijing has sent out the comically-equipped Segway paramilitary and deployed anti-aircraft missiles outside the Bird's Nest.

Is this really just paranoia on the part of Beijing? I'd say, in some ways it is--the government is afraid of losing face in the event that anything doesn't go as planned. However, much of the preparation is more a sign of the times. As disturbing as it sounds, there are quite a few people in the world who don't care about the Olympic tradition of peace and ceasefire. Unfortunately, this is how some people act.

The Olympics is the world's greatest stage. One can make a huge political statement, even if the outcome isn't entirely successful. Personally, I have no problem with people using this time to make a peaceful political statement on the world stage. But, there is a line that too many are willing to cross for their message. The hope is that Beijing will be able to tell the difference between these groups and act accordingly.


Shea said...

one raving lunatic here

Serge said...

What about today's explosion in Kunming?
If they are preparing for the worst, the there are reasons for that.

JA Huber said...

Suppose they are being overly cautious for good reason but unfortunately, nothing can ever be 100% secure.