Beguiled By Beijing? China's Image-eering

We've seen fireworks that weren't there. We've heard a singer who didn't sing. And we've cheered along with fans... who weren't fans. Is this some bizarre case of mass hallucination? Nope, more like a slieght-of-hand illusion of Olympic proportions. In other words, just another day in the life of the Chinese Communist Party - a group that will seemingly go to any lengths to put forth a good image.
But China's "image-eering" goes much farther than computer generated rockets to mask pollution-filled skies, and a lip-synching cutie to mask the bucked teeth of the real singer. It even goes beyond busing fill-in spectators (who received government-issued cheering batons and were drilled on how to cheer in pre-event rehearsals) to mask the half-empty sports venues. No, China's image-eering is much more sinister.
Communist China is determined to rise to international prominence, no matter the cost. And "The Party" doesn't hesitate to use the full power of its dictatorial control to achieve an image that the world will admire. China touts its recent "economic miracle" both for national pride and to attract international investment. Foreign businessmen are taken on carefully coreographed tours, and journalists are allowed to train their cameras on glistening skyscrapers in cities like Beijing and Shanghai. But what's never shown or reported are the rural villages where millions of Chinese peasants suffer from some of the worst 3rd world conditions, like pollution and a lack of food, clean water, and basic health care. China's economic "miracle" is being experienced by maybe 200 million Chinese, and at the expense of the other 1 billion.
And space would fail me to describe the evils of China's infamous one-child policy, and the forced abortions and sterilizations that go with it, and the thin curtain China strives to pull over its ruthless persecution of Christians. But if you don't want to think about such horriffic realities, just listen to China's government and you won't have to.
China's Communist governmment struggles mightily to restrict access to the truth. Much like the Pharisees whom Jesus called "whitewashed tombs," China is engaged in a desperate attempt to burnish its international image while concealing the polluted, rotten truth. Which is why they were so keen on hosting these current Olympic Games. What better world stage on which to act out their carefully coreographed image enhancement program? And judging by the descriptions of NBC's commentators, the image is being swallowed whole and joyfully disseminated back to the States.
Should this knowledge diffuse our enjoyment of the Olympics? It doesn't for me. I love watching sports I participated in (track and swimming) get airtime, plus the chance to watch other sports we never get to see. No, I see no reason not to get into the Games. Just be aware as you do that much of what you're watching behind and between the competitions is image-eering at its best.
And while you're at it, pray for the grace and truth of Jesus to spread like wildfire through China.


Ken said...

China. How they love to put on a PR show. I was a sophomore in high school when the demonstrators were in Tiananmen Square. That was where I saw some of the first brutalities of the Chinese regime. Then I learned that Beijing, not the Pope, granted Roman Catholic bishops their diocese, putting them at odds with Rome.

We should not be lulled into a false sense of security that our business leaders and networks put in front of us. Rather, the way they persecute their own citizenry and suppress free expression in all its forms should be known to all.

Matt Guerino said...


Right you are. I couldn't help but think about that the other day as I watched the women's marathoners run past Tiananmen Square. So pristine and shiny it looked... such a shock to realize that many innocent young people were massacred near that very spot just a few years ago, and that to this day some of their families have never even received definitive reports of their children's deaths.

No, with China we just wash the blood off the stones of the plaza, polish the monuments, host a marathon, and then sit back and smile as the American TV announcers gush about how beautiful The Forbidden City is.

NBC even showed the portraits of Mao hanging in front, conveniently forgetting to mention that he killed 70 million peasants, "for the good of the people."

Doug P. Baker said...

It all reminds me of the lines from an old Bod Dylan song:

The Second World War, boys, it came to an end
We forgave the Germans and called them our friends
Though they killed six million, in the ovens they fried
The Germans now too have God on their side

We have such short memories and are so willing to overlook what we don't want to see. Pathetic.

TimChalm said...

While watching the Olympics I got to wondering what used to be where those beautiful stadiums are now. Someone said that it was mostly housing. I wonder if the people that were displaced were adequately compensated. Somehow I doubt it.

Matt Guerino said...

Tim, I'm sure you're right and I sure as heck wouldn't bet the farm that anyone was well cared for. There were a good number of "undesirables" in Beijing (including many Christians) whom the government didn't want anywhere near foreign journalists, so they were rounded up before the games and shipped out of the region until after all the foreigners had left. A few days after the closing ceremony Amy sighed and said, "I wonder of those poor people have been allowed to return home yet..."

Can you imagine!? What if you and I, along with our whole families, were rounded up by the FBI and shipped off to some holding camp in eastern Nevada for over a month, with no due process or compensation?

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