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Preparing to Protest China

In preparation for next year’s Olympics, the Chinese government has made a concerted effort to crack down on “chinglish." Now it is confronting the more serious problem of reducing the incredible amount of pollution in Beijing. Considering that these developments … Read More

By / August 29, 2007

In preparation for next year’s Olympics, the Chinese government has made a concerted effort to crack down on “chinglish." Now it is confronting the more serious problem of reducing the incredible amount of pollution in Beijing.

Considering that these developments have clearly happened in anticipation of international attention, it’s clear that the Chinese government’s motivation is not to improve communication with foreign countries or ensure the health and comfort of Olympic athletes (forget its own people) but to pretty up its image—that is, sheer stubborn pride (which is why when it comes to iPhones, say, they'll giddily flout international patent laws).

Logically, then, this really ought to work. Why does it feel like wishful thinking? (And why is it semi-embarrassing to make obvious points, even when they’re right? The banality of talking about evil?)

As the Olympics approach, people with all sorts of beef with China will seize the opportunity, not just those concerned with the genocide in Darfur, but China’s support of the genocide in Darfur is the most important protest for Americans, athletes and spectators alike. That said, here’s hoping that Spielberg, Johnny Cheek, and anyone else who decides to protest resists the impulse to go all Live Earth on China—all they have to do, and, really, this is the most effective protest, is show up, shut up, and refuse to play along.

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