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Welcome to Beijing

Visiting China twenty years ago, during the Olympics (Seoul?) of 1988, I was amazed at how many people were watching the event on television.  I guess TV's weren't as prolific there back then, as it seemed that in every public place all eyes were on a screen.  Personally, being the sports buff that I'm not, the only reason I was watching was that the highlights were the only English language show on TV. 

I've been listening to Ian Thorpe and HG Nelson's lamenting that they won't be able to cheer for Australian Olympians at Beijing.  What's that about, fear of a "Free Tibet" chant being slipped in?  How the Olympics are transmitted to the world is going to be an interesting one, with time-delays set in place to ensure a portrayal of harmony, but looking at the official Spectators' House Rules, it doesn't look like folks in the live audience will be able to get away with much.

Plenty here to pick at, if anyone's in the mood: 

 

1. All sites and venues will open two hours prior to the start of competition. Everyone has to go through security checks. Please allow enough time for travel to the venue and for queuing to pass security.

2. To avoid delays at security and to maintain an orderly flow, please DO NOT bring the following articles to any venue:

 -- food and beverages in either hard or soft containers

 -- breakable objects and containers; drums, horns and whistles

 -- bulky, large bags or cases which will not fit in the seating areas

 -- flags of non-members of the Olympics or Paralympics; flags or banners larger than 2 m x 1 m; flagpoles; any banners, slogans, fliers, brochures or samples

 -- unauthorized professional photographic equipment

 -- knives, bats, long-handled umbrellas, sticks, camera tripods, or sharp, pointed articles that could injure others

 -- animals (lead dogs for the blind excepted)

 -- any wheeled equipment other than strollers or wheelchairs

 -- any electronic equipment that could interfere with the electronic signals of the Olympics, such as unauthorized walkie-talkies, megaphones, radios, laser gadgets or wireless equipment, etc.

 -- firearms, ammunition, crossbows, daggers and other controlled weapons; explosives such as fireworks and firecrackers; corrosive and radioactive materials expressly prohibited by Chinese law

3. All spectators have to sit in their numbered seat. Read the seating instructions on your ticket and go to the corresponding location. For assistance, ask nearby staff.

4. To ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone, the following behavior in any venue is considered inappropriate and will be stopped:

 -- smoking in non-smoking areas

 -- climbing over barriers, walking on seats, throwing objects into the stands or field of competition

 -- entering non-disabled seat areas with baby carriages or wheelchairs

 -- entering restricted areas, such as VIP sections, those reserved for staff, and the field of competition

 -- opening umbrellas or parasols in the seating areas, standing for long periods and blocking the view, or any other behavior that affects the enjoyment of other spectators

 -- deliberately displaying signage on clothing or other items; group displays of identical or similar patterns, color combinations or commercial logos on clothing

 -- any behavior that disrupts the athletes, games officials, and coaches, that interferes with the smooth running of the event, or impedes other spectators from watching, including but not limited to, using a flash to take pictures, being in a drunken state, and disobeying instructions from the staff

5. Without prior official permission, the following activities are prohibited: any kind of publicity, advertising, displays or collection of money; distributing sales promotion samples or merchandise with commercial logos; TV reporting or using professional recording equipment.

6. It is strictly forbidden to harass referees, athletes or other personnel; no gambling of any kind will be tolerated; rallies, sit-ins, demonstrations, drunken behavior, streaking and any other activities that disrupt the Games, or are illegal under Chinese law, are strictly prohibited.

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Two issues

To my mind GetUp's strength has been in bringing publicity/numbers to a local issue on which the public feels strongly and also individually powerless. Their campaigns have been able to apply pressure and achieve results.

Education is something else. What is their next campaign going to be? Human rights in Cuba? A partisan approach to Russia vs Georgia?

I'm in favour of first casting the mote from your own eye. If they are now into education, perhaps they could start inserting slots into local sports broadcasts about the west's shortcomings re human rights.

In the meantime, I would rather they had spent this money in their past, successful manner: on a campaign to force the government to save the lower lakes, for example.

GetUp

I'm inclined to consider the GetUp campaign as a waste of money, and a bit of knee-jerk grab at a popularist issue.

"...what Rudd, Gillard and Swan are doing to the country.."

What I have long wanted to know, Alan Curran, is how businessmen, like or unlike yourself, operate when you move your business to China?

What are they doing to China?

Obviously, the lower wages are of huge benefit to one's business. Fair enough: an advantage all around. But, do western businesses take advantage of the lax regulations regarding pollution, to make even greater profits?

Again obviously, these (most often) men know that the regulations have been hard won in the western world to protect the community. Protect its health, protect its workers, its old, sick and children. Protect its environment.

To knowingly do this damage simply because of lax 3rd world regulation, is profoundly wrong. Deeply, deeply immoral.

Do western businesses operate this way in China?

GetUp

 F Kendall, just for the record I did not move my business to China, I sold my business to two Chinese businessmen, and have been retained as a consultant for 12 months. As I have said before, whatever Rudd and Wong do about emissions in Australia it will be wiped out by the emissions in China (and India).

Just watch what happens to pollution in China after the Olympics are over, you will not be able to see the Birdsnest Stadium by lunchtime.

Education

I'm more of the opinion, F Kendall, that it was superb timing to try to educate the mainstream population watching the high-rating event that there were behind-the-scenes issues worthy of consideration.  I've just posted a summarising piece on the matter.

Katrina and the floods in New Orleans

Ernest William:  "I could be paranoiac and suggest that the coincidental disasters which, this year, have tested the very basic courage of this nation, have been accepted and dealt with."

Most of the earthquake affected region is still lying in ruins, and we've heard nothing much lately about the shoddy construction of the school buildings which, all across the region, collapsed killing who knows how many kids.

Though the organisers of the grotesque, vulgar Olympics opening ceremony (the games themselves reputedly costing 40 billion dollars) did manage to work some tasteless references to "rebirth" and "renewal' from amid the rubble into the choreography.  Oh, and an orphan accompanied the Chinese flag-bearer into the stadium.

By contrast, do you remember the hysterical nonsense  and endless finger-pointing and blaming that followed Katrina and the floods in New Orleans?

Not an excuse

Most of the earthquake affected region is still lying in ruins, and we've heard nothing much lately about the shoddy construction of the school buildings which, all across the region, collapsed killing who knows how many kids.

Though the organisers of the grotesque, vulgar Olympics opening ceremony...

 Well indeed. And I dare say anyone who addresses the subject whilst in Beijing is likely to find themselves there no longer.

By contrast, do you remember the hysterical nonsense  and endless finger-pointing and blaming that followed Katrina and the floods in New Orleans?

Well other than the fact that such neglect is rather expected of China and the reverse would be so of the US, there appears a distinct lack of man eating alligators in China. Or relations of singers to report them. Perhaps the Chinese have arrested them all.

To borrow a Geoff-ism: that in no way excuses the US federal indolence in respect to Katrina.

Father Park

Seven drops GetUp advert.

Freedom of speech is alive and well in Australia, right? We thought so - until this weekend.

The Australian said it best yesterday: "Nothing has sucked the air from the lungs as much as Seven's decision to drop an advertisement by GetUp... In a democracy, where freedom of speech is a given, Seven's craven self-censoring efforts represent a gold-medal act of moral cowardice."*

Ordinary Australians donated to put an ad to air featuring a Tibetan women asking the Prime Minister to raise the issue of Tibet when in China. The ad was booked, paid for and confirmed to air on either side of the Opening Ceremony - but it never showed.

Channel Seven has dropped GetUp's Advert. So much for freedom of speech.

How are ordinary Australians going to get their voice heard?

Richard:  Seven argues that a number of advertisers were axed due to the prolonged running time of the ceremony, but nobody's buying the story.   There was a piece on Media Watch last night.  I'll get the transcript as soon as possible.

GetUp

John Pratt, I would have thought that GetUp would be better spending the money pointing out to everybody exactly what Rudd, Gillard and Swan are doing to the country.

Australia's Reserve Bank has expressed deep concern about Australia's economic outlook. Its latest quarterly statement predicts that economic growth is about to slow and that unemployment will climb to 6%. 100,000 people are going to loose their jobs.

Australia's rate of economic growth, at present 3.6%, is forecast to slow to 2% by the end of this year, with about half of that coming from the mining and agricultural sectors, implying a paltry 1% growth rate in the rest of the economy.

Rudd cannot change China's mind about Tibet, so it's about time he stopped doing overseas trips and gets on with doing what he was elected to do.

How nice to read some commonsense and logic.

 G'day Richard,

Well written.

IMHO the government of China, no longer suffering from American embargos like those imposed on Japan in the 1930's, has raised their nation to the heights that they existed when the rest of the world was in technoligical napkins.

I could be paranoiac and suggest that the coincidental disasters which, this year, have tested the very basic courage of this nation, have been accepted and dealt with.

Law and Order?

Malcolm Fraser's disgusting taxpayer funded boycott of the Moscow Olympics was a typical political conservative attitude against a government not in the conservative mode.

As an ex Navy Physical Training Instructor I hope that our athletes put their sport above the politics of their nations, including ours.

Internet

I believe illegal internet shops crop up in the hundreds around Beijing – just as quickly as authorities close them down.

Wow!

Sounds like the "don't annoy a Pilgrim" laws.

Not really, Michael de Angelos

It looks to me as though you are still allowed to be annoying just not disruptive.

You will note that the Federal Court did not strike down the Regulation designed to protect the profit of officially licensed franchisees.

Yet it is pretty amazing isn't it that a country like China with an appalling human rights record can behave less badly than Iemma's Government here? 

Copy rights

Olympic stuff, as you know Malcolm, has always been sacrosanct, and in a country of immaculate copying (didn't most of our Sydney 2000 stuff come from over there anyway?) I can understand that one.

On the other hand, when twenty people put on white scarves will our screens go blank while they're bounced from the arena?

I'm reminded, for the first time since the event, of Midnight Oil taking of their jackets just before performing at the Sydney opening ceremony to reveal their black T-shirts emblazoned with "Sorry".   How would China deal with that one?

On yet another hand, I doubt there'd be any worry about handing out condoms in Beijing.

Internet blocks in Olympic press centre

[AP extract]

Olympic organizers are backtracking on another promise about coverage of the Beijing Games, keeping in place blocks on Internet sites in the Main Press Center and venues where reporters will work.

The blocked sites will make it difficult for journalists to retrieve information, particularly on political and human rights stories the government dislikes. On Tuesday, sites such as Amnesty International or any search for a site with Tibet in the address could not be opened at the Main Press Center, which will house about 5,000 print journalists when the games open Aug. 8.

"This type of censorship would have been unthinkable in Athens, but China seems to have more formalities," said Mihai Mironica, a journalist with ProTV in Romania. "If journalists cannot fully access the Internet here, it will definitely be a problem."

The censored Internet is the latest broken promise on press freedoms. In bidding for the games seven years ago, Chinese officials said the media would have "complete freedom to report." And in April, Hein Verbruggen and Kevan Gosper — senior IOC members overseeing the games — said they'd received assurances from Chinese officials that Internet censorship would be lifted for journalists during the games.

China routinely blocks Internet access to its own citizens.

Gosper, however, issued a clarification Tuesday. He said the open Internet extended only to sites that related to "Olympic competitions."

I can't wait to see what happens when journos try to file human rights stories from the press centre.

The naive and ugly side of the games

An interesting Chinese slant on the games today in The Age, entitled 'Why the games bring out the ugly side of the Chinese'. Despite assurances given to get the venue, it seems that these games are going be a bacchanal of Chinese nationalistic fervour fit to rival that vehicle for German nationalism that was Hitler's 1936 Berlin Olymics, immortalised in the film of it by Leni Riefenstahl.

My God, what a dreary prospect.

whizz bang

Just watching one of those funny little review things SMH does online. Talks about a doco just upcoming on ABC called Cars that ate China.

Apparently about the obsession of the new Chinese yuppie classes with autos. Only two percent of Chinese own a car, but given it has a population of pushing 1.5 billion, its still a lot of cars- and they are choking Peking.

Apparently China already uses more diesel in a day than we do in a year.

Cars

I saw a doco the other day claiming that in1986 there were only six registered cars in Shanghai.  Also that the extreme majority of road crash victims in China are cyclists and pedestrians.  Unsurprising, really.

Moreso

Michael, you're right, but this is on such a larger scale.  It will be interesting to see how the ideological clashes are resolved. 

This from Karen Barlow on AM this morning:

The promise of free and unfettered internet access in China appears unfulfilled.

Western media has complained that websites such as BBC News are blocked locally and an Australian question about possible Tibet and Falun Gong protests is missing from the on-line BOCOG transcription of yesterday's press conference.

It's going to be a complicated few weeks.

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