I was sitting in a coffee shop doing some writing, but not help listening to the conversation on the next table.  It was between a young foreign man and his young Chinese-language tutor.  They went over the lesson quickly, and then they began to chat in Chinese.  The topic was Liu Xiang.  Although it was rude, I could not help myself from listening in.

Foreigner: Since Liu Xiang was injured, he should not have shown up at the track.
Chinese girl: That is because he was carrying the hope of all the Chinese people.

Foreigner: China has so many medals already.  Do they miss one Liu Xiang's?  [Actually, I was wondering about that too, since there have been more golds than expected already.  Even as we miss Liu Xiang's gold, we also got many more that we did not expect.  Isn't that much more to celebrate about than commiserating over the missing medal from Liu Xiang?]
Chinese girl: That is because Athletics is a field in which China is weal and Liu Xiang is the one who tells the world that China can excel in Athletics.  [That answers my question.]

Foreigner: Americans only care about certain sports, such as athletics, swimming and basketball.  They don't care much about the rest.  That is true, because if you watch the American coverage of the Olympics, you will be seeing those events most of the time.
Chinese girl: The Chinese care about gymnastics, table tennis, diving and so on.  Therefore, Americans are not familiar with the many excellent Chinese athletes.  For example, Li Ning ignited the Olympic cauldron and he is well-known in China.

Foreigner: Actually, while the Chinese people may be mad about Yao Ming who is in one of the most famous teams in the world, he is not the most outstanding player.  Instead, Guo Jingjing would be considered an excellent athlete.
Chinese girl: For the Chinese, Guo Jingjing is obviously excellent.  But Yao Ming is different because he participates in a sport that foreigners love.  For the Chinese, that is the extraordinary part of his achievement.

Foreigner: I don't understand why the Chinese would have such a huge reaction to the withdrawal of Liu Xiang from the event.
Chinese girl: Some people did, some people didn't.  That was how the Chinese reacted.

But I don't think that Liu Xiang will be a topic for conversation for too long.  An editor friend reflected that it took three years to digest the war in Iraq, whereas the snow storms during the spring of this year seemed many years ago.  China is forgetful (or tolerant) with speed and breadth that are astonishing.  He even predicted that nobody would be interested in discussing Liu Xiang's turning back on the track, because people will quickly find a new topic of attention.

(New York Times)  Star Hurdler Apologizes to China for Withdrawal.  Jim Yardley.  August 19, 2008.

After Liu hobbled off the track, China’s Internet was filled with comments that ranged from sympathetic to deeply suspicious, with some people blaming officials or even his corporate sponsors for staging his exit.

By Monday afternoon, China’s propaganda authorities had issued an order forbidding the country’s news media from criticizing Liu or probing into the details of his withdrawal, according to one Chinese journalist. Coverage of Liu’s situation in the state news media was almost uniformly sympathetic.

Here is an example of a popular Internet forum that has been 'harmonized' inside China but continues to be available on Chinese-language Internet forums outside mainland China.


Perhaps this is not the right moment, but as an informed person at the Nike marketing headquarters in China, I have decided to reveal certain secrets that may never be made known!  Since winning Olympic gold and especially after setting the world record of 12.88 seconds, there have been more and more commercial activities for Liu Xiang.  Our company, VISA, Amway and others, commercials, public appearances, the activities never stop.  His coach Sun Haiping was actually quite unhappy and protested many times to Liu Xiang's financial managers that this was detrimental to Liu Xiang in terms of keeping fit.  But in face of the huge economic interests, Liu's financial managers did not compromise with an old man who is only into sports.  Thus, everybody saw Liu Xiang attend one after another commercial activity, starred in one after another advertisement ... (of course, we at Nike contributed too).

Early in 2008, Liu Xiang's results were a lot worse than in his championship years and his fitness was worse.  Often, he could only fit some training sessions in between commercial activities and that cannot be said to be systematic training.  At the time, his financial managers hoped that he could go into secluded intense training during the last three months before the Olympics and recover his fitness.

But by that time, people had seen the amazing performances of the Cuban hurdler Dayron Robles.  Sun Haiping shook his head in amazement, but he has no speaking rights within the financial team because he is only a coach.  At that time, Liu Xiang did not object because the financial interests are too huge.  Actually, this is understandable because many Chinese athletes work so hard for the sake of the huge economic returns after they become famous.  He also believed that he would be able to catch up to the stellar Robles in the final several months.

But they never expected that the lack of training over the long term had caused Liu Xiang's body to be unable to satisfy the huge demands of heavy training.  The result was that Liu Xiang was 'accidentally' injured in the Grand Prix race in the United States.  This was actually a huge blow to Liu and Sun, because it disrupted all the arrangements.  There was no way to cancel on all the contracted commercial activities, and he could not train while he was injured.  So he had to continue to do advertisements and make public appearances.  He did not have time to recuperate, much less to train.

Here it must be mentioned that Liu Xiang's sponsors have a negative influence.  Foreigners and Chinese alike have very short-term vision.  They have goals that must be accomplished.  They know commercial appearances would directly affect the Olympic performance, but the pressure on them (including my company) continued with a full schedule.  Actually, we had no choice because the American headquarters has no sympathy for athletes and they only care about their sales figures.  As Chinese, we may not like it but we had to follow the orders in order to keep our jobs.  Even if we didn't do it, somebody else would.

When the Olympics began, Liu Xiang found out that even though his injury has healed, his condition was far from good enough to win an Olympic medal.  As sponsor (including Nike which has a bigger stake because we sell sports accessories), we usually communicate with the sponsored athletes before important events in order to gauge their predicted result. This will allow us to determine if we continue our contract.  Back then, we signed Liu Xiang before he won Olympic gold based upon the same policy.  When we learned that Liu Xiang had no chance to win, we informed the American headquarters and then they woke up.  We held a video conference with Liu Xiang's financial team that day.  If Liu Xiang cannot defend his title (or even win any medal), then his value would definitely shrink and we would receive no return on the vast sum that we invested in him as spokesperson.  A contract is a contract, and we cannot break it.  Therefore, we can only find a way to minimize the losses for our company.

The first proposal was to reduce Liu Xiang's fees, but it was instantly rejected by his team.  They had signed a contract and they will not compromise.  There was a stalemate over several weeks when neither side budged.  During this period, there was news that Liu Xiang had recovered.  Actually, we knew that was a strategy by Liu's team.  They have many contacts in the media including government people and much of his income goes to the sports authorities.  Therefore, these media reports are understandable.  As a company that has been in China for many years, we are only too familiar with it.  We could not possibly take it seriously.

The stalemate was broken when a senior manager from the American headquarters came up with a shocking proposal: Liu Xiang will withdraw under the pretext of injury.  The reasons are: (1) it saves face for Liu Xiang; (2) as sponsor, we won't incur too much loss since the athlete withdrew due to an unpredictable injury and people won't resent him.  If he could actually recover and compete again, we will have more things to hype about.

This proposal was accepted by everybody and we quickly reached a consensus.  Then we began to orchestrate the news that you saw later, including the pre-race reports, the moment to withdraw, etc ...

Actually, the tears of coach Sun Haiping came from his year.  In my view, he was really sorry that a talented person had to fall to the power of money and he was helpless to stop it.

Liu Xiang is just one of many stars to fall under the force of money ... but I hope that he would be the last.

[ESWN Comment: This post is fiction because of internal self-contradictions as well as conflicts with known external events.]

(The Statesman)  Sponsor denies role in Liu pullout, requests investigation.  August 19, 2008.

Nike today issued a strong denial of Internet rumours that it forced Chinese athletics hero Liu Xiang to pull out of the Olympics, adding it had asked authorities to investigate the posting.  “The posting is a malicious rumour, and has not only misled netizens, but also seriously damages the company's reputation,” Nike, one of Liu's major sponsors, said in a statement emailed to AFP.  “We have immediately asked relevant government departments to investigate those that started the rumour.”

He Zhili
The scene is the table tennis auditorium at the Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan on the evening of October 13, 1994.
Koyama Chire kept yelling "Yes!" at each point as she defeated the world's top-ranked player Deng Yaping of China in the final gold medal match.  Afterwards, she wept in joy.  Koyama Chire is one of the Chinese nationals who played for other nations.
Innumerable Chinese people watched this moment.  They saw a person of Chinese descent named He Zhili stood on the podium to watch the Japanese flag rise to the tune of the Japanese national anthem.  They had mixed feelings.
It was an unforgettable moment, and it was also hard to accept by most Chinese.  People could not cope with the fact that an athlete who grew up drinking the water from the Huangpo river and was carefully groomed and trained by Chinese coaches would win a gold medal for another country at such an important international competition.
"Chinese traitor," "turncoat," "quisling," ... the Chinese people used language that had been shelved for a long time to curse out Koyama Chire.
Lang Ping
The time is August 15, 2008, and the location is the Beijing Capital Sports Auditorium.
This fourth round of the Beijing Olympics women's volleyball competition has just ended.  In the battle between the coaches of the Chinese and American teams, Lang Ping led the American team to a win.  Although the Chinese people should have no problem making the final eight, they have nevertheless put themselves into a precarious position.
Before the match, the chess grandmaster Ni Weiping criticized Lang Ping for taking the coaching job with the American team.  He suffered a blowback in public opinion, with some critics pointing out that his thinking is "30 years behind the times."  The majority of the netizens disagreed with his view.  The American team led by Lang Ping was received with warm cheers of "Coach Lang, we love you!"
Li Ning
At the 1982 World Cup gymnastics competition in Zagreb, Li Ning won 6 of the 7 gold medals and became a legend in the world history of gymnastics.  He was crowned the Prince of Gymnastics.
At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Li Ning was the leader of the Chinese gymnastic team which won 3 golds and 6 other medals.
At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the Chinese gymnastic team was in a transitional stage.  Li Ning wanted to retire but was forced to participate in spite of a spate of injuries.  He made many mistakes and the team finished in last place
The defeat in Seoul almost ruined Li Ning.  China erupted with rage.  On his return to China from Seoul, he could sense the bone-chilling coldness.  The media reported that "One or two officials and three or four reporters met him at the airport."  People's excessive hope became disappointment, and sympathy turned into condemnation.  Some reports called him "shameless,"  and they changed his title to the Dead Son of Gymnastics.  Li Ning had competed for his country in spite of his injuries but all he got was sarcasms and insults.  Someone broke his window in the middle of the night.  He received a rope with a note to hang himself, and he received a bullet with a note to shoot himself.
At the August 8, 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, Li Ning played the role of the sun chaser and ignited the Olympic cauldron.  History has given a delayed justice to Li Ning .
Liu Xiang
At the 110m high hurdles final of the Athens Olympics, Liu Xiang crossed the finish line with a three-meter lead.  His time of 12.91 seconds tied the world record that was created 11 years ago.
At 11pm on August 8, 2008 at the Beijing Olympics, section six of the 110m high hurdles first round heat was being held.  The gun went off and someone went out prematurely.  The runners were called back.  Liu Xiang stopped before the first hurdle, then he turned back and walked with a limp.  The spectators were confused and concerned.  Liu Xiang then answered the question himself by tearing off the lane number on his shorts and walked back slowly to the dressing room -- he left only a lonely shadow for the 100,000 spectators.  Liu Xiang had withdrawn!
The big screen at the Bird's Nest Stadium showed the scene of Liu Xiang on the runway repeatedly.  Several female volunteers by the runway were crying quietly.  The television hosts could not suppress their emotions.  At that moment, the Bird's Nest Stadium began to play Beyond's <The Ocean Is Wide, The Skies are Empty> ...
For the next day, the comments at the major websites and forums appeared to be mostly understanding and sympathetic.  Even if there were a small number of acerbic comments, they were instantly drowned out by criticisms from other netizens.
Liu Xiang was far more luckier than Li Ning!

1988 - 1994 - 2008

The clock of history has marched for twenty years.  From refusing to accept and even insulting He Zhili, the Chinese are now cheering for Lang Ping.  Even though He Zhili and Lang Ping are different in many aspects, it still shows that the Chinese people have become more broad-minded.

During these 20 years, Chinese sports have leapt from sitting back for individual talents to emerge to using theory and system to nurture athletes.  He Zhili and others could only use their individual talents to become members of the teams of other nations, and they leave behind only brief flashes of brilliance like meteors.  But Lang Ping was able to imprint the theory and method of Chinese training onto the soul of the American volleyball team.  At these Olympics, the women's single table tennis final was a match between China and Singapore, whose coach Liu Guodong is the brother of the Chinese coach Liu Guoliang.  In the men's badminton final, the Malaysian player's coach is also Chinese.  Meanwhile, the Chinese fencing team is coached by a French coach and they defeated France to win an Olympic gold medal.  The changes in the emergence, opening and exchange of sports is the epitome of the vast changes in Chinese society as a whole.

In 1988, the reforms had just began and many things needed to be done.  The Chinese government and the people wanted so much to prove themselves in the world and gain self-confidence.  The Olympic gold medals was one of the few possible ways.  That was why the attitude towards the failure to win gold was so extreme.  It was not just a matter of breadth of mind, intelligence or maturity.

Today in 2008, Olympic gold medals are still a powerful symbol for the Chinese people, but they have become rational.  Apart from the Olympic gold medals, there is so much more that can be talked about.  It is no longer necessary to use those tiny gold medals to prop up the pitifully small self-confidence of China.

Of course, China is a long way from being able "to regard gold medals as fleeting clouds in the skies."  It is a long way to transit from "gold medal sports" to "people's sports."  But from the changes that occurred over the past twenty years, this should not be too far away.  The Chinese people are far more intelligent than most people think.

The following are selected netizen comments at the ccthere.com forum (in North America):

- The whole essay feels alright, but the last sentence ("It’s certainly a useful ideology for aspiring autocrats") reveals the fox's tail.  But this guy told a key fact: The definition of what is "good" has changed.  The right to define used to belong to America, but now the Chinese want to seize the right to define.

- Does the writer carry a certain bias?  Yes.  While he pointed out the flaws with collectivism, he did not point out that the same flaws in an individualistic society.  Individualism can cause the same kind of serious consequences.  This is no absolute truth in the world.  Thus, there is no perfect social system.  It is only a question of whether something fits the social conditions at the time.  Besides, individualism versus collectivism are just a broad division.  Who says a collectivist society cannot allow individualistic actions, nor an individualistic society does not have collective behavior?

- I have reservations on two issues.  My first issue is that it is debatable whether the origin of culture should be reduced down to tribalism and Greek individualism.  Chinese culture began in the rich loess between the two great rivers and existed for a long time as unified empires.  By contrast, the complex geography of Europe caused prolonged periods of division.  This is a more plausible explanation of individualism/collectivism than bacteria or Greek culture.  ... The second issue is that it is dangerous and mind-numbing to try to reverse these critical attitudes.  It is clear that we live in a world in which the speech rights as well as moral standards favor "individualistic culture."  It is one thing to be cautions about other people attacking our culture, it is another to say that we have to lead the world.  As the English comedian John Oliver said: "It used to be England, now it is America.  But don't worry because it will be China in another fifty years.  After that, it will be the end of the world."  We have not reached that point by a long stretch and the main theme is still to stay humble and maintain a low profile.  Even though we have not really risen up, the Americans are crying aloud about "The China Threat" but not as far as "strangling China in the cradle."  But when we see other people say that we have "risen up" and "become strong," shouldn't we be less vain and come back down to earth and walk firmly ahead?  I have no other hope that the west would allow China some time to rise up.

- The following comment (at the New York Times) received the largest number of recommendations: "A society that is either too individualistic or too collective will not prevail. As a Chinese-born American, I have seen the downfall in both. The Chinese have learned to be more individualistic over the past few decades (and probably want to continue moving in that direction). Perhaps it is time for the U.S. to put a little more emphasis on the collective. (And then maybe we can actually get some meaningful healthcare reform.)  Michelle, Princeton NJ."

- China?  If the Americans see that they can succeed without following the path of democracy, what is there left for the Americans?  This is probably what he means.  This is not just a competition between systems, but it is also a competition between methods.  Isn't like a corporate brand pitch?  Therefore, the Olympics can be said to be a good marketing event.

More comments from Xitek.com:

- This is a meaningful essay.  This is a thoughtful essay.  But the neutrality of the essay was destroyed by the last sentence ("It’s certainly a useful ideology for aspiring autocrats")

- Collectivism and individualism are both good; socialism and capitalism are both good.  Which is better?  I don't know.

- Collectivism may be high in China, but it is actually weakest in the collectivist sports such as men's soccer.  Sigh ...

- My understanding that the system and the individuals should complement each other.
Actually, Chinese individuals are not very high in collective spirit, and therefore the system needs to promote the collectivist spirit.
Actually, American individuals are strong in collective spirit, and therefore the system needs to promote the individualistic spirit.
I cannot imagine how chaotic the world would be if the the China over-emphasizes individualism.  It will become like many places in Africa.
Similarly, if America were to carry out the collectivist spirit, the country would not have much dynamism.
I feel that collectivism is not too strong in China.  Rather it is far from enough.  We can see this from the results of the group sports and from our daily lives.

- A cultural paradox?  How can America with its individualism form armies to fight wars in collectivist ways?

- American armies do not depend on collectivism.  America triumphs over weak nations based upon their absolute superiority in military hardware.

- Without the meeting of American individualism and Japanese collectivism, there would not be digital cameras, plasma television sets, laser discs and so on in the world.  China is not collectivist, because it has neither western-style rule of law nor Japanese culture of shame.  It is just a collection of loose sand particles linked by certain interests.  The foreigners are wrong in their views about us.  For more than a century, none of their predictions about China have been realized.  China is an alien species that foreigners can never understand.

- The Chinese people do not follow collectivism.  The minimum requirements for collectivism is discipline and a spontaneous consideration of the group interests.  The Chinese people are lacking on both.  (Japan is truly collectivist relatively speaking.)  The Chinese have the characteristic of "following the crowd."  When they go overseas, they want to join the "mainstream society."  Frankly, they adore power more than rationality.  To be kinder, they are super-pragmatic.

- Even the fart from the New York Times smells fragrant.

- Which country are you from?  Say SORRY!  YOUR NAME!  (reference: Water Cube Mama Is Hot On Chinese Internet)

45.9%: No sympathy towards her, because she is one of the co-conspirators
38.8%: Sympathy towards her, because she is under a lot of pressure because her family members are involved in the case
15.3%: Don't know/no opinion

Whether Liu Xiang advanced to the finals or not, he was destined to be the focus for the media.  His surprising withdrawal will definitely make him the headline subject for most media, especially the web portals.

Actually, before Liu Xiang even began the race, media such as ours were already making various preparations.  For example, I arranged reporters to interview spectators.  There was a plan on what to do if he wins and another plan if he loses.  For the evening program, I had already invited an expert who provides psychological counseling to athletes with planned topics.  If Liu loses, the guest will tell people how to cope positively.  If he wins, the guest will tell people not to give him too much pressure in the finals.  His withdrawal actually provided more topics for discussion, including the psychological state of mind of the athlete, especially the inside story about the psychological counseling that Liu Xiang is receiving personally.

Many media (especially the Hong Kong media) have been paying a lot of attention to Liu Xiang in recent days.  If there is nothing left to say, then they would go to the Wangfujiang district sports store for which Liu is a spokesperson and interview the customers who came for Liu Xiang.  They also covered other brands that Liu Xiang acts as spokesperson for.  Anyway, as long as Liu Xiang is involved, it is news.

In the words of my colleagues, the Bird's Nest stadium exploded when Liu Xiang withdrew.  But at the same time, another Hong Kong colleague at the scene called me to say that she had tried to find some spectators who were reacting in a more excited way but she could not find anyone.  In front of the camera, everybody was extraordinarily calm.  They were sorry, but they supported Liu to come back.  My colleague was sorry that she could not find anyone who was crying.

But there was an interesting mass reaction as most of the Chinese audience exited the stadium in an orderly manner after his withdrawal.  Some people complained: "I bought tickets for the high hurdle finals, but what I am going to watch now?"  They felt that they were short-changed.  It would seem Robles has far less attraction for the Chinese spectators.

Most of the time, the Chinese people (including the Chinese media) do not realize that their expectations are so high.  They all say that Liu Xiang should not be placed under too much pressure, but the media just cannot lay off him.  Intentionally or unintentionally, his appearance becomes the moment that gets the most attention and Liu Xiang is defined as the person in whom the highest expectation is placed.  At many press conferences, the Chinese media would ask athletes from other nations about their views on Liu Xiang, or else they compared the popularity of other athletes with Liu Xiang in China.  Interestingly, some of the famous foreign athletes on the podium actually has no idea who Liu Xiang is because they have different measures of fame.  For example, in terms of international fame, more people around the world are likely to know Yao Ming than Liu Xiang on account of the popularity of the NBA commercial packaging.

But the media will always say one thing and do something else.  Although some politically correct essays called for people to use an normal attitude, there will always be other hypes (such as the so-called public opinion polls or other interactive methods).  In the end, this is something that is simply too appealing to the eyeballs of the Chinese people.  When the Chinese media want to hype something up, they spare no effort.  For example, the American sport shooter Mark Emmons and his Czech wife probably never imagined that they would be showered with so much loving attention from the Chinese media.


Last evening, I spoke to the expert psychologist.  He believes that Liu Xiang is a relatively psychologically stable athlete.  I also learned that Liu Xiang is studying for a bachelor's degree in psychology.  His previous appearances before the media showed that he is an athlete who can cope psychologically.  Instead, the psychologist said that it is spectators like us who are far less capable than Liu Xiang.  He also believed that if Liu Xiang had fallen near the finish line, the disappointment would reach the highest for the people.  Therefore, apart from offering condolences to Liu Xiang, have we reflected about our own feelings?  On the day when Liu Xiang moved into the Olympic village, the Hong Kong media got him to say that "the competition is just a game."  He was reportedly criticized for being politically incorrect.  But he was telling us a fact, just as he did when he turned around to walk away from the start line.  This is what sports competition is about.  There are heroes in this world, but there are no supermen.  And the hero is not necessarily the person who wins the gold medal.

The respondents were asked to state whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with a particular political party.  The data is then reported in the following table as a satisfaction index (= %satisfied - %dissatisfied).  A positive index means more satisfaction than dissatisfaction, and a negative index means more dissatisfaction than satisfaction.  This study has been conducted annually from 2004 to 2008.


2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Civic Party  52  46  38  30  35
Confederation of Trade Unions -24  28  26  36  28
Association for Democracy & People's Livelihood  44  42  26  28  18
Federation of Trade Unions  32  36  22  36  16
Democratic Alliance for Betterment -58 -16 -10  12   8
Liberal Party   2  -2   6  14  -6
Frontline   6  -8  -4 -10 -22
Democratic Party   4 -18 -36  -8 -24
League of Social Democrats na na na -50 -35

(Apple Daily)

Wang Yuegu, Feng Tianwei and Li Jiawei of Singapore show their silver medals

Table tennis is considered the national sport of China.  When it comes to the Olympics, the Chinese players are expected to sweep the gold medals (and they could not sweep all the medals because only two entries are allowed per country and also obviously only one for the team competition).  Last night, China played Singapore in the women's team final, at which Chairman Hu Jintao was in attendance.

The question was: Was it China playing Singapore?  Or was China playing China?  The fact is that the three players from Singapore (Feng Tianwei, Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu) as well as the coach are all former Chinese citizens who immigrated to Singapore.  Feng Tianwei came from Heilongjiang province and Li Jiawei was a member of the Beijing city team; both used to be on the Chinese national team.  Wang Yuegu was a star on the Liaoning provincial team.  The Singapore coach Liu Guodong is the elder brother of the current Chinese national team coach Liu Guoliang.

The Chinese sent out their top players Zhang Yining, Wang Nan and Guo Yue and they swept to a 3-0 victory.

Why would Chinese players immigrate overseas?  Mind you, Chinese players were also found on other seemingly unlikely national teams such as Austria.  The answer is simple.  It is about $$$$$$$.  In the case of Singapore, the reward for winning the gold medal was 1,000,000 Singapore dollars (=USD 700,000+).  Furthermore, the mercenaries are are also second-tier players in China but they become the top dogs overseas.  That is why they were no match when they came up against the top Chinese players.

Nevertheless, this final was a huge event in Singapore with the highest television ratings so far in these Olympics.  The televised state address by the Premier was even postponed to make way for this event.

Here are some hypothetical scenarios:

(1) What if Singapore actually beat China in the Olympic final?  My guess is that there would be furious accusations of treason on the Internet.  But since they lost, all is forgiven.  In fact, this overseas army serve as ambassadors of the superiority of the Chinese people in this particular sport.  As a contrast, there were some Chinese Internet criticisms of volleyball legendary Lang "The Iron Hammer" Ping who coached the American team to a win over China.  Worst yet, Lang Ping wants to be addressed as Jenny and will only give interviews in English!  However, if only the American team had a tough loss that evening, then Jenny Lang would have been praised for bringing a lousy American team to being competitive.

(2) Is it alright for a country to offer money to entice athletes from other countries to immigrate and win medals?  There does not seem to be any outcry against Singapore in this case.  But I ask you to imagine the situation if China were to offer money to entice Kenyans to immigrate and compete in the 3000m steeplechase, where medals are almost a sure thing.  I can easily imagine the outrage from the usual China-bashers.  By the way, these things do happen (see, for example, the stories of Saif Saaeed Shaheen, the 2003 and 2005 World Champion in the 3000m steeplechase from Kenya; Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain who won the 1,500m in the Beijing Olympics; Wilson Kipketer of Denmark; etc).

In summary, this process is known as globalization (where people can flow across borders freely to maximize utility).  All I can say is: Live with it!  It's going to happen anyway, and it is a good thing for it to be happening.

That is because Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang just dropped out of the 110m preliminary.  Before this, he carried the nation's expectation for a gold medal.


Reporter: "Guo Jingjing, today is the day with the biggest attendance at the Aquatic Center.  Everybody came here to see watch you ..."
[What is wrong with Wu Minxia?  She is Chinese too, and didn't the audience cheer for her as well?  But by this time, Wu Minxia's face was flushed red and she lowered her head almost ready to cry ...]

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, the TVB reporter intercepted Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia.  First question:  "How did you feel when you received the gold medal from Mr. Timothy Fok, the chairman of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee?"  Why was it necessary to name that person?  Because the tabloid gossip was that Guo Jingjing will retire from diving and marry Mr. Fok's son.  But Guo Jingjing did not cooperate with the need to provide more material of gossip and simply stated flatly that she was happy.  The television broadcast only showed the back of Timothy Fok, and he treated Guo Jingjing no differently from the other two medalists.  The following photo comes from Apple Daily and you can read whatever you want into this.

There was a follow-up question for Guo Jingjing: "You have won four gold medals -- two in Athens and two in Beijing.  Which one was the most satisfying for you?"  Guo Jingjing turned and looked at Wu Minxia, as if to wonder how dumb can this be?  But she answered politely: "They were all satisfying."

(NOW news; TVBS)

Chen Chih-chung's mother Wu Lee-hua and granddaughter rerurned to Taiwan early in the morning.  As soon as she entered, seven or eight men created a human wall around her to make way.  They screamed at the press to make way.  They cried out to the airport authority security officers: "Are you with the Airport Police?  Clear a path, clear a path."  Meanwhile they continued to scream at the press.  Their hands were not idle as a man with sunglasses in an orange shirt kept pushing the cameras away.

Wu Lee-hua: "Excuse us, excuse us."  The press peppered her with questions: "Who are these people who are pushing the cameras away?  Who are they?  Who is this person pushing away the cameras?  Have you hooked up with gangsters?  Did you hire gangsters to protect you?"  She replied: "No, they are all neighbors!"

Where do these neighbors get all that strength?  The man in the orange shirt gave a camera a strong shove right in front of the car, and the lens on the viewer was splintered.  That camera was almost totalled.  Furthermore, the beige trousers of one reporter was covered with footprints created by Wu Lee-hua's neighbors.  This reporter has filed a complaint with the Airport Authority police.

Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching are staying in the United States.  The press is only doing its duty by asking Wu Lee-hua for clarification.  But they were manhandled.  If Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching have nothing to hide, why can't they come back to tell the truth?  Why did they send the grandmother and the infant girl up to the frontline?  Wu Lee-hua said that she came back first with the infant because the parents were concerned that the media might scare her.

This is just the pre-game show.  Wu Lee-hua says that Chen Chih-chung and Huang Jui-ching will return to Taiwan next week.

UDN Video Link

(Electric News Paper)

LIN Miaoke, the girl at the centre of the lip-synching controversy of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, is set for stardom.

The 9-year-old will reportedly pocket as much as 600,000 yuan ($120,000) for just a three-minute appearance in a movie, reported sina.com.

In other words, $40,000 a minute.

Or $666.66 per second.

And it looks set to continue rising, said MrZhang Yiyi, author of the novel Hard Work, which the movie is based on.

Said Mr Zhang: 'Six hundred thousand yuan should just be a friendly price. Miaoke's asking price is much more than that. It will definitely keep rising.'

(Beijing News)

Yesterday, the media reported that Lin Miaoke (who 'sang' the <Ode to the Motherland> on the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony) will star in the new movie <Strive>.  This movie is adapted from the novel of the same name by Zhang Yiyi.  Lin Miaoke will play the role of the 'flower girl.'  For that 3 minute appearance, she will receive 600,000 RMB (or 200,000 RMB per minute).

Yesterday, Beijing News contacted Lin Miaoke's father Lin Hui by telephone.  Concerning this movie, Lin Hui said that he does not know who Zhang Yiyi is and he has never made any such contact.  Lin had found out about the person known as Zhang Yiyi only after the Internet hype.  As the father of Lin Miaoke, he knows that he has never received any movie contract for her, and he is definitely unaware of any 200,000 RMB per minute rate.  He said that not everything on the Internet is credible.

Will his daughter play in movies?  Lin Hui said that this has not come to pass yet, and he has not given this any consideration.

Concerning the recent attention paid to Lin Miaoke by the traditional media and the Internet, Lin Hui said: "I never thought it would come to this.  He said that while the parents understood why the netizens paid so much attention and concern for Lin Miaoke.  In order to make sure that the daughter would not be affected by the outside world, the parents have treated the Internet buzz coolly: "I hope that the Internet opinion will become rational gradually in time."

[ESWN Comment: What is the oblique reference to Internet opinion not being rational?  When the forest is big, there are all kinds of birds, including very malicious ones.  For example, someone stated that Lin Miaoke had to observe the 'unwritten rules' of showbiz in order to win the role, and that means offering sexual favors to the decision-makers.  Why is the father going to do?  Sue the netizen using an alias?]



With former president Chen Shui-bian, his wife Wu Shu-jen, his son Chen Chih-chung, along with the brother-in-law, daughter-in-law and her father being embroiled in a money laundering scandal, it would seem that the daugher Chen Hsing-yu is the only one spared.  This morning, Chen Hsing-yu roared at the press again.

Chen: "My dad tells me to say nothing.  My dad forbids me to name those people who took the money."
Reporter: "Your mom says that this was a family affair.  Did she get you to open a dummy account?"
Chen: I don't want to talk about this."
Reporter: "Hsing-yu, who are you calling now?"
Chen: "I'm going to tell my mom that I will speak out."

Chen: "Let me tell you, when elections come around, which of those Democratic Progressive Party people does not need money?  Which election has my father failed to contribute?  Nobody asked them to run for election.  You can investigate them one by one.  The surplus campaign funds are the result of an unreasonable system.  Why don't you investigate just who files the surplus campaign funds properly?"

Reporter: "Your mother said that this is investing the money that your dad earned?"
Chen: "Not everything that the media reports is true.  You should not take another inaccurate media report to question me.  Why do some media report it this way, but other media report it some other day.  I only know that the surplus campaign funds were deposited overseas."
Reporter: "Why not deposit it in Taiwan?  Why overseas?"
Chen: "Is it legal to deposit it in Taiwan?  Do you think that the KMT people deposit their money in Taiwan or overseas?  Do you know where they deposit their money?"

Reporter: "Why not use the name of President Chen or your mother?  Why use the names of the son and daughter-in-law?"
Chen: "Is that so?  You ask those other people whether they used other people to open accounts too."
Reporter: "Did they ask you that they want to use your name to open bank accounts?"
Chen: "I don't know.  They didn't ask me!  I only learned that when I read the news.  I never thought that it was my money.  If I have so much money, I wouldn't need to go to work.  I could just stay home and lie down.  What do I need to work so hard!"

Reporter: "But how Chih-chung and Jui-ching have violeted the Swiss laws ..."
Chen: "I know.  This is a political struggle.  They want to ruin our entire family.  Before I die, I will name all those people.  I will not die so easily.  It is no big deal to die anyway.  The Democratic Progressive Party people took money from my dad for their elections.  Did they report it accurately?  They put the money in their pockets and did they accurately report the surplus?  My father gave them money.  Did they file on the campaign fund reports that Chen Shui-bian gave them money?  Isn't that hiding the information and reporting inaccurately?"


This morning, an emotional Chen Hsing-yu told the press that the money were surplus election campaign funds.  Doesn't the DPP need money for elections?  Doesn't Taiwan independence need money?  The people who took the money before are now acting as if they are above this.  So she wants to name them even if she dies for it.  She named Frank Hsieh, Su Tseng-chang and Chen Chu.  "Didn't they take money?"  She said that this was a political struggle in which people want to ruin their whole family!  She said: "Ma Ying-jeou's popularity rating may go down to just 1%, but if Chen Shui-bian is dead, he will have no competition."

Yang Wei is the winner of an Olympic gold medal as the all-round male gymnast.  After winning, he was interviewed on television and asked what he wanted to say to his girlfriend Yang Yun.  He said: "I'm thinking so much about you!"

Yang Yun is a former female gymnast and has an Internet shop.  She won a bronze medal for uneven bars in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

As a result of the exposure, the website traffic has soared to more than 360,000 for this month.  But the shop may not be doing too much business due to the high prices (such as 2,560 RMB for a pair of sunglasses).  Yesterday, the shop was auctioning a pair of shoes that Yang Wei wore at the 2004 Olympics with the current price at 750 RMB.

In her personal blog, she has often showed off her romantic relationship with Yang Wei.  For example, the entry below is titled: "Yang Wei: I love you!  You are the hero in my heart!"  This has led to a number of netizens leaving obscene comments on her blog.

In turn, Yang Wei wrote in his own personal blog: "I care about how Yang Yun feel.  I admire her.  If you want to say anything or if you don't like something about us, just come at me."  I won't delete your comments."  "But if you are going to hurt her, I have going to ignite a roaring fire so that you can be burned to death!" "Just think about what happens if it is your family member or beloved person that is being insulted.  How would you feel?"  "If you are a passerby, then I will tell you that your show is over or else you are going to become a regular visitor at the hospital."

What is this "public interest" thing?  What comes to mind immediately is that he could have shifted the money to the Democratic Progressive Party candidates in the county/city, parliament and presidential elections.  The Democratic Progressive Party is well-known to be financially strapped, to the point of laying off workers and breaking office leases to make ends meet.  But he did not use the money that way.  What happened to that money?

(Liberty Times)

The prosecution found that former president Chen Shui-bian's wife Wu Shu-jen managed the money in a very complicated way.  First, she wired the money to her brother Wu Ching-mao's account at the ABN AMRO bank in Singapore, from which the money was then transferred to the Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, and then transferred to the Credite Suisse Bank.  When her son Chen Chih-chung got married, the money was transferred to the Credite Suisse account of her daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching, from which it was then transferred next to Huang's accounts at the Merrill Lynch Bank and Credite Suisse Bank in Zurich, Switzerland.

Wu Shu-jen claimed that the money came from four principal sources:
(1) unspent money from the campaign contributions to Chen Shui-bian
(2) earned income by Chen Shui-bian when he worked as a lawyer
(3) the dowry of Wu Shu-jen when she got married
(4) profits from the investments made by Wu Shu-jen

The total amount in the Swiss accounts acknowledged by Chen Shui-bian at this time is USD 20 million (note: he rejects the USD 30 million figure reported by the media on the grounds that there was double counting).

During the search of Chen Shui-bian's home and office, Wu Shu-jen was very cooperative.  She answered the questions from the prosecutors from 10:30am to 1:00pm.  She emphasized that none of the money was dirty.  But due to her poor health, she took medicine and some biscuits during the course of the questioning.  Meanwhile, former president Chen opened every drawer in his apartment to let the investigators see, and he hopes to restore the honor of the Chen family soon.

Is that how you manage your money?  How can you even explain any of this?  What happened to the call for people who love Taiwan to keep and invest their money in Taiwan?  Oh, the husband would have wanted to do that but the wife did something else behind his back ... fine ... but what is wrong with the wife?

On August 14 at the Water Cube, a foreign television team was interviewing a foreign athlete.  Another observer had a videocamera running.  At that moment, a Chinese woman went to stand by the interviewee and told t his outside videocamera person: "You film me while I stand here."  The reporter said to her "Excuse me!" to ask to the interview first.  There may have been some physical contact off the camera.  In any case, the Chinese woman said in Chinese: " You touched me already! .. Which country are you from?"  Then she said in English: "Say sorry!"  The reporter was courteous and said, "Sorry!"  The Chinese woman then walked away.  When the interview was completed, the Chinese woman walked up again and asked in English: "Your name!!"  Then she picked up the reporter's identity card to read.


The post is titled: "Human flesh search engine to locate the Water Cube shrew!"

(Baltimore Sun)  The Beauty of Imperfection.  By Kathleen Parker.  August 15, 2008.

Even as China's opening ceremonies for the Olympics inspired awe, there was something repellent in the exactitude of such mass perfection.

The military precision of 2,008 drummers moving in perfect synchronicity, pounding out the sound of a billion hearts beating, was both mesmerizing and slightly creepy.

If they can do that, what else can this giant power do with a limitless supply of human resources and dedicated discipline?

Inevitably, comparisons have been drawn to the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. Just as China's selection as host country signaled its emergence as a global power, Germany's marked that nation's return to the international community following its defeat in World War I.

Although Adolf Hitler was already busy rounding up Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and others for detention and/or sterilization, the Games allowed him to pull a propaganda coup of peaceful tolerance. The Holocaust and World War II soon followed.

Like Germany, China has aimed to make a good impression. So determined were the Olympic hosts to project a positive image that officials even swapped out the adorable child-performer who sang "Ode to the Motherland."

The little girl in the red dress who captured hearts around the globe wasn't really singing. She mimed.

The real singer was a less-adorable child, by China's judgment. Her chubby cheeks and crooked teeth made her face "not suitable," officials said, giving new meaning to the expression "game face."

Thus, Yang Peiyi was replaced by Lin Miaoke. Apparently, the Chinese hadn't met Paul Potts, the chubby-cheeked, crooked-toothed tenor who became an overnight sensation when he wowed Britain's Got Talent judges with his rendering of Puccini's aria Nessun Dorma. Mr. Potts, now the beneficiary of recording contracts and millions of fans, has had his teeth fixed, but part of his initial charm was his ordinary packaging. There was this heavenly voice residing in the human equivalent of a tract house.

People identified with his imperfections and loved him all the more for his humility and transcendent performance. He was so ... human.

China isn't burdened by such concerns. Sentimentality doesn't enter into the totalitarian equation. In such a world, innocence is irrelevant and deceit is a lesson best learned young. Who cares that a little girl was told she wasn't pretty enough to be seen by the world, and that her voice - though lovely - belonged not to her but to the homeland?

That single gesture, relatively small amid the extravaganza, said more about China than all the fireworks, human kites and dangling dancers. It said: The human being - the individual - is of no importance. The objectification of that child, her voice commodified for the purposes of the state, was the real ode to the motherland.

The absolute uniformity of movement we witnessed, meanwhile, was a vivid expression of the communist machine and the mandate to honor the whole over the individual.

A friend impressed by the opening ceremonies joked to me that the U.S. wouldn't be able to find that many fit individuals to man so many drums.

Although she was sort of kidding - in fact, China has an obesity problem - she may have been on to something. That degree of robotic perfection is hard to imagine beyond the military in a country not lately known for rigid adherence to rules or patient with delayed gratification.

It's easier to command a cohesive performance from people who live under tyrannical rule than it is, say, in a democratically elected republic where obsessive-compulsiveness is considered a treatable pathology.

Democracy is messy. And free people understand that being human means being imperfect, that protest is healthy, that cracks can be stepped on, sins forgiven - and teeth fixed.

That's not to say that the Chinese performers didn't earn awe and applause. They were breathtaking. But it is useful to peek behind the thin veil that separates cooperation from coercion. Those 29 colossal "footprints of fire" that marched through the city sky began, after all, at Tiananmen Square, where in 1989 the Chinese government massacred hundreds of students and activists demonstrating for democratic reform.

Allowing China to host the Olympics may have been a wise decision for unexpected reasons. At the risk of falling under the spell of the greatest show so far on Earth, the world was given a glimpse not only of China's massive power but also of its immense capacity for unfettered resolve.


(China Times)  Former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian issued a press release this afternoon to announce the resignation of himself and his wife Wu Shu-jen from the Democratic Progressive Party.

He said that the Democratic Progressive Party represents the dreams and sufferings of many people, but he had to apologize today to his comrades and supporters.  "I have let everybody down.  I have disappointed everybody.  I have caused irreparable damage to the Party ... although it was not my intention, I made a mistake and i did something that I should not have.  I am deeply ashamed and rueful."

Chen said that he loves the Democratic Progressive Party and he was honored and proud to be a member of the Democratic Progressive Party.  In order to express his deepest apologies to the comrades and supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party, he announced that he was resigning effective immediately from the Democratic Progressive Party.  His wife Wu Shu-jen is also resigneing from the party effective immediately.

(China Times)  Concerning the investigation of money laundering by Swiss authorities, the request for help had come from the Swiss prosecutors in early July, but the document did not get delivered to the Justice Department until July 31.  Last week, the Taiwan prosecutor summoned Chen Shui-bian for an interrogation about the state affairs funds case this Tuesday.  That case involved possible graft to the amount of NT$14.8 million.  But last Saturday (August 9), Chen Shui-bian's son Chen Chih-chung and wife Huang Jui-ching left Taiwan for the United States.  That was before the story broke yesterday that Huang Jui-ching is suspected by the Swiss authorities of laundering USD 30 million.  The possibility cannot be precluded that the couple had been tipped off about the upcoming investigation and fled.  The couple are considered to be important witnesses in the state affairs fund case, but they cannot be barred from exiting Taiwan because they are not suspects.

(TVBS)  KMT legislator Hung Hsiu-chu said that Chen Shui-bian was a coward for hiding behind his wife's back.  Concerning the matter of the leftover campaign funds being wired to overseas banks accounts, Chen claimed that his wife Wu Shu-jen handled that and he was unaware of what was going on.  When asked how much money was involved, he said that she cannot remember.

In February this year, the Korean number one national treasure Sungnye Gate was destroyed by fire.  While the Koreans mourned, some Chinese netizens poured scone.  "There is no need to scold them because, after all, they are residents of the Chinese province of Korea," "Seoul is the capital of the Chinese province of Korea," "No need to to curse out Korea because they don't have much that can be characterized as national treasure, especially since Sungnye Gate is gone."

More recently, Korea and its people have become ping-pong balls that can be played in the Chinese-language Internet websites around the world.  "The Koreans say that Confucius, Laozi and the Buddha are Korean; they even built the Great Wall; the Chinese beauty Xishi is now Korean too; the Koreans are a shameless people who expropriate Chinese history ..."

A while ago, <New Express> (of Guangzhou, China), United Daily News and China Times (of Taiwan) and other newspaper reported: "Korea has called Sun Yat-sen a Korean."  The media then said that the Koreans are a shameless people who steal other nations' historical figures.

Why do the Chinese media want to report fake news such as "Koreans steal Chinese history" and the like?  Although it is hard to say in a simple way, the reason can be attributed to the desire to promote Chinese self-respect and a sense of historical superiority.

So what should Korea do?  It would be naive to assume these sort of insults against Korea would disappear on their own over time.  Let us take a look at how the "progeny of Sun Yat-sen" story got propagated.  The first to report this piece of fake news was a mainstream media outlet in Taiwan.  After it appeared on the morning of July 31, Yahoo carried it and then Sky News, Sina.com and other mainstream broadcast and satellite television channels soon followed. This news spread from the online website of a newspaper to the web portals and satellite television channels in a very short time.  We can see that a communication system is in existence to distribute distorted or fake reports to the 1.5 billion Chinese people around the world.

It is wrong for the Chinese Internet to attack Korea, which cannot afford to sit back because they can become the butt of international jokes.  Koreans should try to figure why "the Koreans are the people that the Chinese detest most" and "the television drama that the Chinese hate most is <Jewel of the Palace.'  Then they can react purposefully.  Even now, Koreans should be using the Internet to improve the image of their country.

Here are some examples of Chinese Internet 'attacks' against Korea.

(1) (PC Home)  Here is a purported table of Olympic medals as published at a Korean website.  Korea is listed at the top and China , Japan in second  place and China is only in fourth place, even though the latter has the most number of gold medals.

(2) (Tiexue Net)  Photos of a female Olympic swimmer were purportedly published by a Korean newspaper.

(3) (Tianya Forum)  The post is titled: "The Koreans have posted a video showing many Chinese spectators booing the Korean athlete on YouTube!"  The post asks, "Why can we do!"  Replies include: "Post information about Koreans booing Chinese athletes," "YouTube has become the home for foreign unemployed people, otakus, wheelers, Tibet splittists ... nobody goes there," "Next time the kimchees compete, we'll boo even louder! ..."  The YouTube video which was taken from Korean television has been removed due to a copyright claim.

Conclusion: If you want to nitpick, you will always find nits to pick ...

(New York Times)  Teeny-Tiny Matter of Age for China’s Gymnasts.  By Juliet Macur.  August 9, 2008.

The teeny-tiny women on China’s Olympic gymnastics team will don their teeny-tiny leotards Sunday to perform big gymnastics in the women’s qualification at the Beijing Games.

Bela Karolyi, the former coach of gymnastics stars like Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton, said their size should raise a red flag.

The smallest of the six competitors is Deng Linlin, 4 feet 6 inches and 68 pounds. The team’s average size is 4-9 and 77 pounds. That is 3 ½ shorter and nearly 30 pounds lighter than the average for the United States team. Shawn Johnson, a favorite in the all-around, is the only American gymnast both shorter than 5 feet (4-9) and lighter than 100 pounds (90).

The ages of the Chinese gymnasts have been a topic of conversation for months, but it has reached a fever pitch here. To compete in Beijing, the gymnasts must turn 16 in this Olympic year.

“This is a joke,” Karolyi said last week. “We are people who have had children of our own, so we know what a 16-year-old should look like. They should not look like they are 7 and maybe still in diapers.

“What the Chinese are doing is a slap in the face of the whole world, but there is nothing we can do about it.” Recent reports, including one by The New York Times, said that three of the six members of the Chinese team might be younger than the minimum age of 16. Several Chinese sports registries showed that He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin did not meet that age requirement.

Chinese authorities have produced passports to prove those gymnasts are old enough to compete. The international gymnastics federation, known as the F.I.G., issued a statement Saturday, saying the passports were proof that the Chinese were playing fair. International Olympic Committee officials agreed.

“To our understanding, both sides have cleared up this matter,” said Giselle Davies, an I.O.C. spokeswoman, referring to the F.I.G. and China’s Olympic committee. “We feel comfortable having heard feedback from people directly involved with the athletes.”

(Wenxue City

With respect to the cases of Deng Lingling and Jiang Yuyuan, there is a 2003 documentary film about how China was preparing for the 2008 Olympics.  This 89 minute documentary even includes the then unknown hurdler named Liu Xiang talking about the impossible to get a medal in international competition.  But what does he know?  In 2003, China was already screening young girls for the 2008 Olympics, and the group included Jiang Yuyuan and Deng Lingling (note: He Kexin is not mentioned here).  While birth certificates, passports and newspaper reports can be faked, it is unlikely that this documentary was faked back then because the Chinese sports authorities were just guessing who among the large group will emerge as eventual Olympians five years down the road.


Here are some screen captures:

Training gymnasium of the Chinese national gymnastic team

Must be 16 years old in order to formally participate in international competitions

Preparation and selection of 2008 Olympic team members

This is for girl athletes who will be at the right age in 2008

My name is Jiang Yuyuan

12 [years old]

Question: Do you why you are here for this group training?

Answer: For the 2008 Olympics

Deng Lingling is the child who cries a lot

She can never get it right.

Jiang Yuyuan and Deng Lingling at the 2008 Beijing Olympics:

Links about the case of He Kexin: Scandal of the Ages: Documents Reveal Underage Chinese Gymnast  David Flumenbaum, Huffington Post; China’s early press coverage of “secret weapon” He Kexin  David Bandurski, China Media Project

Personally love a good puzzle ...

* First a google news search with keyword “teeth opening ceremony”, there are a lot of returns.

* Take out those who picked up from AP (”-AP”).

* Further limit with dates 8/12 to 8/13, when the “crooked teeth” meme first broke in the English world.

* Now the number of returns is more manageable. Reverse sort by dates. Look over the first 20 or so pages. The google spiders work pretty hard, and pieces from major news outlets rarely take more than a few minutes to hit the google news.

* This is the source in the English world, especially given the richness of its content that wasn’t fully picked up by others: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/olympics/article4512250.ece

* It credits china.com.cn for the picture. Now use baidu.com instead since its spiders on Chinese contents are more reliable. The keywords are “site:(china.com.cn) 林妙可 杨沛宜”. The page was removed by china.com.cn. However there was a baidu cached page: http://tinyurl.com/62oyun. No mention of crooked teeth and chubby/fat face.

Conclusion: the meme of “crooked teeth” and “chubby cheek” was started by Jane Macartney and Ashling O’Connor of The Times (The UK newspaper).

(New York Times)  I’m Singin’ in Beijing.  Op-ed columnist Gail Collins.  August 13, 2008.

Did you realize the Chinese Communist Party was that much into cute?

The world knows now that the adorable little girl we saw warbling “Ode to the Motherland” at the Olympics opening ceremony was not really singing. She was a Potemkin performer. A Trojan tyke. Lin Miaoke, 9, was fronting for Yang Peiyi, 7, the girl with the best voice but imperfect teeth.

“The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feeling and expression,” said Chen Qigang, the music director, who went public with the news that the dual-little-girl strategy was concocted after a member of the party Politburo intervened at the last minute.

Now this is an Olympic crisis everybody can get into. While your heart goes out to the athletes suffering the agony of defeat, very few of us can internalize the trauma. Really, you have to be able to imagine yourself getting onto the balance beam before you can relate to the pain of falling off.

But having the whole world know that you’ve been deemed insufficiently attractive — now there’s Everywoman’s nightmare. When Peiyi told a Chinese TV station that just being able to sing was an honor, you could imagine her in 10 years insisting that she didn’t care about going to the school dance since she was having so much fun sewing carnations onto the homecoming float.

If she grows up to discover a cure for cancer, when they hand over the Nobel Prize, will everybody say that it was nice that she found a way to make up for those unfortunate front teeth?

The idea that appearance is valued more than performance is one of those painful facts of life that people always hate to be reminded of. But Andrew Nathan, an expert on Chinese politics and human rights at Columbia, seemed puzzled by why anybody would be surprised by this kind of switcheroo in a country where help-wanted ads make it clear that job candidates must be good-looking and the 380 hostesses to the Olympics were all required to be the same height and weight.

“This particular technique seems so standard. I’m a little puzzled about why everybody’s stuck on this example,” he said. “I really don’t know how a little girl in China might respond to being told your teeth are not good enough. But doesn’t that happen all the time in Hollywood?”

Cheng Li, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, saw the story more in terms of consumer fraud. “What she sings is a very moving nationalistic song,” he said. “The people were so emotionally involved. If you asked them what’s the most moving episode, I think the majority would tell you that moment, with the little girl in red clothes. Now the Chinese people feel they are fooled. The psychological hurt is enormous.”

One could certainly argue that American outrage over Peiyi’s situation is overkill, given the fact that families here gather together in front of the TV to watch reality shows in which unattractive people are permitted to audition for talent contests so that the judges can make fun of them. And in China, the fact that authorities were trying to put one over on the viewers was somewhat undercut when Chen, the music director, disclosed the switch in an interview on Beijing Radio.

“The little girl is a magnificent singer. She doesn’t deserve to be hidden,” he told AP Television News. How he felt about his moment of candor once it became an international story is yet to be determined.

Actually, the organizers had started with a completely different little girl, 10, who was fired at the last minute when the ceremony’s director, Zhang Yimou, decided she looked too old. We do not want to imagine the repercussions when this kid hits her 30th birthday.

Miaoke then got the part — until a senior Communist Party member, sitting in on one of the final rehearsals, announced that her voice “must change.”

It’s not actually clear whether it was the party boss who decided that while the voice had to change, the cute exterior needed to remain. But Zhang, a well-known movie director, seemed to start channeling “Singin’ in the Rain.” Peiyi (whose teacher described her as a well-behaved child who didn’t like to show off) got the Debbie Reynolds part — the nice girl singer doing all the work behind the curtain while the star mimed under the spotlight.

Meanwhile, Miaoke was apparently singing her 9-year-old heart out on stage under the illusion that the world was hearing her voice. According to Jim Yardley’s report in The Times, Miaoke’s father said he had to tell her that everybody was hearing Peiyi instead. “The only thing I care about is that my daughter will not get hurt by this. She’ll understand when she grows up,” he added.

You have to wonder. Miaoke may turn out to be the real victim in this story. It’s one thing to be thrust into the role of Debbie Reynolds. It’s a lot worse to go overnight from symbol of the Olympics to Ashlee Simpson.

(ESWN Comment:  A meme is defined as "a unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another."  I wish that I can track down where the meme of the "uneven teeth" began, but my life is too short and there has to be better things than to nail this down.  What is for certain is that the primary material (in the interview with Chen Qigang) does not support this.  At some point, one reporter wrote it somewhere and others picked it up.  After a few cycles, this becomes a meme.  In comment 91 of The cruelest insults come from ones pretending to speak as the righteous, VOA was asked and replied that since other western news agencies are reporting it, they will take it to be true unless proven otherwise.  Such being the case, Yang Peiyi is now and forever associated with "fat/chubby face" and "uneven/broken/buck teeth" unless she can prove otherwise.)

Q1.  How much attention are you paying to the Hong Kong Legislative Council elections?
  3.7%: No attention at all
23.2%: Not a lot of attention
55.6%: Some attention
16.6%: A lot of attention
  0.9%: Don't know/hard to say

Q2. Which type of issue(s) do you care about?
  9.2%: Political issues
74.8%: Economic livelihood issues
  0.4%: Neither
14.7%: Both
  0.9%: Don't know/hard to say

Q3. Will you be voting in the September Legco elections?
  9.0%: No
23.7%: Maybe
63.6%: Definitely
  3.7%: Don't know/hard to say

Q4. Which is the most important issue for you when you decide on which candidate to vote for? (Base: Likely voters)
20.6%: Stopping prices from rising
20.5%: Maintaining the economic competitiveness of Hong  Kong
13.6%: Shrinking rich-poor gap
  7.9%: Improving the conditions of low-income people
  6.7%: Raising the quality of education
  6.4%: Solving the problem of financing medical care
  6.2%: Support double universal suffrage in 2012
  4.4%: Legislate minimum wages as soon as possible
  3.2%: Ask the government to improve urban planning
  2.4%: Ask the government to improve environmental protection
  0.2%: Enact the fair competition law
  5.7%: Other
  2.2%: Don't know/hard to say

Q5. How satisfied are you with the performance of the Legislative Councilors? (Base: Likely voters)
  7.9%: Very dissatisfied
50.5%: Dissatisfied
32.6%: Satisfied
  0.4%: Very satisfied
  8.6%: Don't know/hard to say





This afternoon, former Republic of China president Chen Shui-bian held a press conference and said: "At the beginning of this year, my wife Wu Shu-jen admitted for the first time she had send part of the unspent contributions overseas without letting me know.  She said that she was anticipating to use the money for other public causes.  As soon as I found out, I decided immediately to transfer the money for Taiwan's international diplomatic efforts and other public causes."

Earlier this year, Chen Shui-bian was still the president.  Today, he did not explain how much money there was, to whom the money was transferred to and the purposes that they were used for.  He said: "People say that the state secret fees were being wired overseas, or else this was the money that I received for the Papua-New Guinea case or the Sino Swearigen affair.  That is not true.  I am absolutely clean and problem-free.  I have no financial involvement in any of those cases!"

Chen said: "My conscience tells me that I cannot continue to lie to myself or others.  I have decided to come clean.  I have done things that are inadmissible under the law.  I am willing to bow deeply to apologize for all the inaccurate financial reporting that occurred during the four elections from mayor to president."

Then he left without answering the questions from the reporters.  His lawyer said that the president could not sit for too long due to his back injury (caused by being kicked by a pro-blue supported at a court appearance).

Chen also declared that this was a "joint enterprise" and that other political figures such as Lee Teng-hui, James Soong, Lien Chan and Ma Ying-jeou must surely be just as guilty of money-laundering.  He welcomes an investigation of everybody.

(China Times)

Chen Shui-bian's press conference might have been forced by news developments this week.  First of all, Next Weekly magazine reported that Chen Shui-bian secretly wired NT$300 million to the United States through his daughter-in-law Huang Jui-ching and her family.

Then KMT legislator Hung Hsiu-chu said that Next Weekly got it wrong because what happened was that the place was Switzerland and the amount was USD 30 million plus (=NT$900 million).  Hung Hsiu-chu has information about the Switzerland authorities seeking assistance from the Taiwan government to investigate money laundering by the Chen/Huang family.

According to information, Huang Jui-ching established account numbers 464528 and 464625 in February and March 2007 with the Merrill Lynch Bank in Switzerland.  Two sums totaling USD 21 million and USD 140,000 were wired into those two accounts from the Credite Suisse Bank of Singapore.  In May 2007, Huang Jui-ching asked Merrill Lynch to register the Bouchon Ltd company on her behalf in the Cayman Islands.  Afterwards, the money in the two Merrill Lynch accounts were wired into the account of Bouchon Ltd.  In late November, the account of the president's son Chen Chih-chung at the Coutts Bank (Royal Bank of Scotland) wired USD 10 million to Bouchon Ltd.  These accounts have now been frozen by the Swiss prosecutor for suspicion of money laundering.


The Democratic Progressive Party states with respect to the press conference of former president Chen Shui-bian:

1. We affirm the courage of former president Chen Shui-bian in facing up to this matter.

2. We support and encourage former president Chen Shui-bian to face the test of the judiciary and society.

3. This is now a judicial matter and should be determined by the judiciary.  We expect the judiciary to handle this case in a fair manner, respect the rights of the principals and strictly adhere to the duty to preserve privacy.

4. We feel the sorrows of our supporters over this matter.

(Rose Luqiu's blog)

I think that people are familiar with lip-synching and they found it acceptable.  For example, the 70-something-year-old singer was lip-synching due to illness and weather.  After all, this is a show and there is some leeway for how to define the performance.  I only hope that the responsibility should not be placed on the two children and their parents.  After all, they can't do much about what happens.

The New York Times located the parents of Lin Miaoke.  They were informed only 15 minutes before the start that their daughter would be the singer, because the child was asked not to disclose the details of the rehearsal.  But the father did not feel that the voice was like that of his daughter, which he thought may be due to technical reasons.  They only found out after the relevant interview was aired.  They told Miaoke that the voice was not her, but she didn't care.  Her parents said that Miaoke and Peiyi are good friends and there were ten girls selected to prepare for the singer's role.  The parents said that they don't care who sang, just as long as the children were not the children.

I think that this is the most important part, and it is the reason why this story got the attention of the western media.  This case involves children and the values of a society is revealed by how children are treated.  I think that there is nothing wrong with two people collaborating on this program, but the problem is that everybody now knows the reason: one did not have a good voice and the other was not pretty enough.  For people who advocate encouraging and loving children, this kind of reason must surely be too cruel.

I had dinner with some foreign correspondents yesterday.  They did not have much to say about the electronic fireworks, and their attention were on the two children.  In the western world, it is unacceptable to to treat children this way for this reason.  This opening ceremony show was supposed to the perfect performance for the west, especially for those people who are prejudiced against China.  It was not worth it for this one episode to reinforce those prejudices.

Yes, it is all about protecting the children from being hurt by evil adults ...

(New York Times)

On Monday, Peiyi appeared on China Central Television, or CCTV, the state network. “I’m O.K. with it,” she told her interviewer, even performing a song. “My voice was used in the performance. I think that’s enough.” Miaoke’s father, a news photographer at a Chinese newspaper, was worried about how she would take the news. Since age 6, Miaoke has worked in television advertisements, even appearing with the country’s wildly popular hurdling champion, Liu Xiang. Her appearance in the opening ceremonies made her an instant celebrity in China, and her image was reproduced around the world.

“Here’s something I want to tell you,” Mr. Lin said he had told his daughter. “The music director announced just now that it was not your voice when you were singing at the opening ceremony. The song was actually performed by you two girls.” Mr. Lin said his daughter was not upset. He said that Miaoke and Peiyi were “good friends” and that Miaoke “doesn’t care who sang the song, as long as she performed.”

So far so good, no harm no foul.  But the western media went on to report (and I got these references by searching for the term 'uneven teeth' on Google News for which I got more than 1,400 results):

(Los Angeles Times)  China's $100-million Olympics opening ceremony wowed its global TV audience with a lavish spectacle and pizazz that tried to present a perfect image of China to the world, right down to the perfect teeth of the little girl who took center-stage and sang an ode to the motherland. Except the voice was not hers. It was recorded and belonged to another girl, with better pipes but crooked baby teeth and a chubby face.

(AFP)  The show's musical director revealed the real singer, seven-year-old Yang Peiyi who has uneven teeth and a chubby face, was replaced by government order because she did not present the right image of China. ... No newspaper reported on the issue on Wednesday and state broadcasters also avoided the subject. References to the story were blocked or deleted from the Internet.

(Times Online)  The real singer was Yang Peiyi, a seven-year-old deemed not pretty enough to be the face of China’s most watched moment in history. Chubby-cheeked with crooked teeth, she was substituted at the eleventh hour by Communist Party officials desperate to present the best possible image of Chinese youth to a curious world. After watching a rehearsal with Peiyi in the lead role, a senior member of the Politburo told Beijing Olympic organisers that they had an urgent problem that needed fixing. The solution was to front Peiyi’s “perfect” voice with the more acceptable face of Miaoke, who had already appeared in a television advert.

(Telegraph)  Now we discover that Lin Miaoke, the little pig-tailed girl in the red dress who "performed" the Chinese anthem so delightfully at the opening ceremony, was miming. The real singer, Yang Peiyi, was dropped at the last minute because of her buck teeth. In a revealing interview, the ceremony's musical designer said the intervention of a member of the ruling politburo was instrumental in making the swap.

(Globe and Mail)  The unmasking of the ruse by which China attempted to pass off one girl's beautiful face as belonging to another girl's beautiful voice is also the unmasking of the new China, and the propaganda purposes of the Beijing Olympics. It would not have done to have Lang Peiyi, the seven-year-old singer of China's patriotic song, Ode to the Motherland, be seen by the world or her own country during the opening ceremony of the Games: She has uneven teeth. Those teeth, and her bowl-cut hair, do not suggest wealth or modernity. Her replacement, nine-year-old Lin Miaoke, is a pig-tailed, Asian version of one of the Olsen twins at that age. She is the ideal, the new China.

(National Post)  The pinnacle of deceit, however, came when Chen Qigang, the music director of the Opening Ceremony, admitted in an interview with state media that the adorable nine-year-old girl who sang Ode to the Motherland as China's flag was carried into the main stadium was not, in fact, singing. Lin Miaoke was chosen because the girl whose voice was used, Yang Peiyi, had too-crooked teeth and a too-chubby face. As Chen reportedly put it, "we were concerned with the interests of the nation."

(AP)  So in a last-minute move demanded by one of China's highest officials, the two were put together for the Olympic opening ceremony, with one lip-synching "Ode to the Motherland" over the other's singing. The real singer, 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, with her chubby face and crooked baby teeth, wasn't good looking enough for the ceremony, its chief music director told state-owned Beijing Radio.

So now we have a situation in which Yang Peiyi is now and forever marked with having the "chubby/fat face" and "crooked/uneven/buck teeth."  That should do wonders for her self-esteem ... NOT!  Did the music director Chen Qigang say that?  He should be crucified for saying so.  What did he really say in that Beijing radio interview?  Here is the YouTube video:

(transcript in Chinese via China News Digest)

(translated into English by DJ at Fool's Mountain)

Chen Qigang: The director requested first and foremost adorable kids, and we identified about 10 children accordingly. We then listened to the singing of those kids, and not all of them had good enough voice to perform. The request from the director was that, first the appearance must be good, and of those, the one with the best voice and ability to sing should be picked. We went through a few such candidates through the process and they helped our music creation effort tremendously.

The first kid was about 10 years old. She contributed the most towards the preparation stage of this part of the performance. All the early practice runs were based on her recorded singing. But the director felt she was not the best visual for the scene. She was considered somewhat older than envisioned, a bit adolescent that is. So regrettably she was dropped. We then focused on searching through younger kids. The age criteria was to find someone about 7 years old. A number of them were selected, including both Lin Miaoke and Yang Peiyi.

We went to the Central Broadcasting Radio Station to make recordings. It was felt afterward that Lin Miaoke’s voice wasn’t exactly suitable in terms of tone control, range and depth. In the end, we decided that Yang Peiyi should be the one to provide the voice. We thought it was in the national interest to put the one with the best appearance and expression on the stage. Lin Miaoke was a very good choice for this role. But in terms of the music, we all felt that Yang Peiyi had the flawless voice.

Interviewer: So the one appearing in front the camera was Lin Miaoke and the song came from Yang Peiyi?

Chen Qigang: That’s right. It was a last minute, tough decision. We went through multiple practices and reviews. We played Lin Miaoke’s recording during one joint practice. Many reviewers, particularly someone in the Political Bureau of the Central Committee [of the CCP], made comments that it must be changed. We had no choice.

Interviewer: This is the first time for us to hear this story.

Chen Qigang: We have a responsibility to explain this to the Chinese viewers. I think the viewers should be able to understand that, in the national interest, for the perception of the country, it was an extremely important and serious matter to present the flag [in the best possible manner]. We made a decision, which I think was fair to both Lin and Yang. We felt the coupling of a perfect voice with the best appearance produced the most optimal result. From Lin Miaoke’s point of view, she might not even have realized it. We had two recordings from both of them and they didn’t sound very different.

So where did Chen Qigang talk about the "chubby/fat face" and "crooked/uneven/buck teeth"?  Nowhere.  Go back and re-read the western media reports -- they are the ones who thought that she had those physical attributes.  Lin and Yang were among the final three candidates who were listed on the programme, and therefore it cannot be the case that they are not 'presentable' or could not sing.  But today, the world knows Yang as having "chubby/fat face" and "crooked/uneven/buck teeth" and Lin as having no singing talents.  Well, who needs Politburo members when we have western media showering such 'tender loving care' on Chinese children?  DJ's post at Fool's Mountain is titled The cruelest insults come from ones pretending to speak as the righteous.  Right ...

Reference: The Origin of the "Crooked Teeth"/"Chubby Cheek"

With respect to "Fake Firework Footprint Gate", I translated the post by Song Shinan in Chinese Internet Reacts To Olympics Opening Ceremony.  That post was made by the blogger at 2008-8-9 0:50:29, which was near real-time.  What is there about this tv program segment?  The words were 电子烟花造的大脚板 (translation: The big footprints created by electronic fireworks).  He already knew that it was computer animation.  I don't know about you, but I knew that the sequence had to be pre-recorded and/or animated because it was operationally impossible to carry out in a live situation.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed it while knowing what it is.  It seems that the critics are incapable of enjoying such.  That is the essence of the situation.  When it comes to China, many people are completely incapable of just looking at and enjoying something because they have many chips on their shoulders and many axes to grind.  They don't know how to lighten up.

With respect to "Fake Singing Gate," the comment below this one points out to a simple fact.  The script called for a young girl to sing <Ode to the Motherland>.  In such an important production, they would never have only one person and they will always have backups.  In fact, there were three candidates, including Lin Miaoke and Yang Peiyi.  The designated performer was Lin Miaoke and the other two were backups (as in, What if Lin Miaoke gets hit by a truck on the way to the Bird's Nest Stadium?).  For whatever reason, the decision was to replace Lin Miaoke's singing with a pre-recorded version done by Yang Peiyi.  It is not even clear that Lin Miaoke knew this was happening (because she may not be able to tell from the sound feedback).  This is very different from the version out there which says that Yang Peiyi was rejected because of crooked teeth/fat face.

But that is beside the point.  After all, if people want to get themselves worked up over nothing, that is their prerogative.  I am only here to provide more fodder.

(1) Why was Li Ning chosen to ignite the Olympic cauldron?  The International Olympic Committee requires an Olympian to perform the task.  As designed, the task entails serious training and current Olympians could not make time.  This leaves only retired Olympians.  Three distinguished Chinese Olympians were identified just over a month before the opening ceremony.  The first candidate Xu Haifeng, a shooter who won the first ever gold medal for China, was unavailable.  Li Ning was the most distinguished gymnast of his era.  The third was the diver Xiong Ni.  For his role, Li Ning trained for almost a month.  For reason of secrecy, he showed up at 2am each night after everybody else has left.  The training was done in the dark, because turning on the lights would have revealed that something was going on.  Meanwhile, Xiong Ni trained just as hard.  But he received no credit because he was just the backup (as in, What if Li Ning gets hit by a truck on the way to the Bird's Nest Stadium?).  The controversial issue was: Was it ambush marketing against Adidas on behalf of Li Ning's Chinese sports apparel company?  Well, if you want to get all worked up over that, that is your prerogative.  You can name your own candidate (and be promptly ripped apart by others).  For example, you may suggest Gao Min, who was undefeated in her career as a diver, but she is not going to be able to undertake this physically demanding task ...

(2) The ignition of the Olympic cauldron was considered longish because Li Ning had to circle the entire stadium.  But at least he lit the cauldron directly.  For the Turin Winter Olympics, "The cauldron lighting was also the first in recent memory to be lit indirectly, that is, the flame did not directly touch or travel to (such as the arrow lighting at the 1992 Summer Olympics) the cauldron itself. The precise timing of the pyrotechnics was obviously timed by computer from the precise moment the flame touched the center frame in the center of the stadium. Because of the elaborate fireworks, it is highly unlikely the flame traveled to all the charges directly. However, it is possible that the cauldron was lit from a backup flame inside, or that an electronic signal from Belmondo's apparatus to the cauldron served as the "flame" (much like the 1976 Summer Olympics where a satellite signal carried the "flame" from Greece to Canada, though not at the opening ceremony)."  Oh my God, didn't the audience expect to see a real ignition with a real torch by a real person as opposed to a computerized event?  Please go and have a fit ...


By the way, the original Beijing design was for a "phoenix" to perform the ignition, but the IOC rejected that because they felt that it had to be personally carried out by an athlete.

(3) Who are the 2,008 persons playing the percussion instruments?  They turned out to be soldiers stationed in the Beijing area.  However, not all soldiers are eligible because there was a physical height requirement of 170cm.  Well, not all Chinese people are exactly this tall.  If you want to have a fit about how misleading this is or about the eugenic implication of the ideal height of Chinese male, it is your prerogative.

(4) How was the five-ring Olympic symbol raised up?  Actually, it was just a lighting illusion.  There was an array consisting of more than 40,000 high-quality LED lights, and it was already suspended in air.  The raising of the rings was therefore a computerized process.  If you see the rings rising, it is only the optical illusion created by some LED lights being turned on and others being turned off.  Oh my God!  Doesn't the Olympic spirit require the Olympic rings to be 'actually' raised?

(5) The Beijing Weather Bureau had a forecast of rain for the Olympic opening ceremony, but it was actually clear on this night.  It turned out that between 4pm and 11pm, 1,104 rockets had been launched from 21 locations around Beijing and that successfully stopped a belt of heavy rain from entering Beijing.  Oh my God, they are even manipulating the weather?  Is nothing sacred?

(6) It was said that the "fake firework footprints" and "fake signing" would have been acceptable if the spectators were informed beforehand.  Rehearsals had been held separately before.  There were full dress rehearsals on July 16 and August 2 at the Bird's Nest Stadium.  Many media outlets were present for the rehearsals and they knew what was going to happen.  But with the exception of the South Korean television channel SBS, nobody previewed the opening ceremony.  Why?  Because surprise is an important element and the media know the rules of the game.  How would you like a detailed explanation beforehand in the manner of "... at 8:13pm, fireworks will be set off around Beijing but the audience will be seeing a 3D computer animation of that ... at 8:28pm, the 9-year-old girl Lin Miaoke will show up to sing <Ode to the Motherland> but the voice belongs to 7-year-old Yang Peiyi ... at 9:39pm, a female dancer will appear on a carpet carried by men in the Silk Road episode but she is just a replacement after the originally scheduled dancer Liu Yan fell and injured herself seriously during a rehearsal ..."  After you read this announcement, will you bother to watch the television show itself?

(7) Later on, Li Ning revealed that he had immigrated to Hong Kong under the special talents program.  Therefore, Li Ning was not a mainland Chinese resident at the time when he ignited Olympic flame.  Therefore, this is a breach of protocol for inviting a non-resident to conduct this last step.  Will the angry young people rise and call Li Ning a Chinese traitor?  Oh, wait, Hong Kong is part of the People's Republic of China ... never mind ...

The above was obtained from this week's issue of EastWeek weekly magazine (in Hong Kong).  I have no intention of working any harder.  The Beijing Olympic opening ceremony was a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, and I had seen it personally.  It will probably never be matched in my lifetime in terms of over-the-top extravagance, as there is no reason why London (and other future host cities) would want to do this kind of thing.  However, I have no interest to take this entertainment show to the level of Chinese governance, national character, etc.  That would be overkill.  But if you want to do so, it is your prerogative.  My advice is, "Lighten up, relax and enjoy the show."

Bonus:  (Hecaitou's blog)  As Li Ning 'sky-walked' around the stadium wall which had images projected upon them, there was one projected image that was the infamous Microsoft "Blue Screen of Death."  Was this a deliberate attempt to shame Microsoft (whose founder Bill Gates was in attendance)?  That would be so like the evil Chinese!


While the strong visual impact of the Olympic opening ceremony was still shimmering before our eyes, there came the disclosure that the 29 footprints in the air were special effects created by computer.  While the sound of the song <Ode to the Motherland> was still swirling inside our heads, there came the scandal about "fake singing" and "lip synching."  ...


The infuriating part is what Chen Qigang, who is the music director of the Olympic opening ceremony, said.  He said that the actual singer Yang Peiyi was kept off "in consideration of the international image" and "the national interests."  This statement is bound to offend anyone and everyone.  Even if Yang's looks might displease the audience or fails to meet the aesthetic requirements of the director, he should have put it that way.  Anyone who says such words must have water in his brain, and it would not be an insult to call him 'retarded.'

When this story was exposed, most of people felt sorry for Yang Peiyi.  The photo of Yang in the videos showed that she was quite lovely and not quite the unpresentable person that director Chen implied.  Frankly, before seeing the photo, I had assumed Yang was physically impaired and I even pondered on whether it would be better to have such a young handicapped person on stage instead.

The "fake singing" affair was really somewhat unfair to Yang.  If this story had not been exposed, everyone would assume the heavenly song was sung by Lin Miaoke, and that would be unfair to Yang.  But even though it is unfair, I disagree that Yang would feel hurt as a result.  Why is that?

The media reported that director Chen also disclosed that Lin Miaoke's sound was replaced at the last minute as a result of an order from a "member of the Politburo." ... this tells us one fact: what was replaced at the last minute was Lin's singing and not Yang's image.  In other words, Yang's singing was inserted at the last minute.  For this, Yang should at least feel proud.  In her own words, she "felt satisfied" even though she did not get her moment on the stage.  But she was not hurt when her singing was used.

What hurt Yang was precisely what director Chen said.  Perhaps he intended well and he wanted to be fair to Yang as well as tell the truth to the public.  But what he said not only hurt the self-respect of Yang, but also caused pain in other decent people.  According to information, this great musician Chen has spent a long time in France.  Could it be that he lost the Chinese art of speech because he had been speaking foreign languages for too long?

As for feeling hurt, perhaps Lin Miaoke was hurt even more.

Let us talk first about the switching of the singing.  The overall director in charge Zhang Yimou specifically mentioned Lin at the press conference after the opening ceremony.  He said that he was most touched by 9-year-old Lin Miaoke singing <Ode to the Motherland>.  He said that Lin had rehearsed many times and put in a lot of work.  But in spite of all that hard work, someone thought in the end that her voice was not good enough and had it replaced.  I think that this is bound to hurt her feelings somewhat.  But let us imagine that if the decision was to replace her altogether, then how much worse would that hurt be?  Here, I agree with the decision by the directors and leaders to keep her on stage and still let her stand on the stage, as opposed to sweeping her out the door.  Of course, this is my speculation.  Perhaps the real reason was that there was no one to replace her at the last minute, or perhaps director Zhang liked her too much, or perhaps director Chen thought that her image was better suited for the "national interests."

But what director Chen said not only hurt Yang (who did not have to be hurt) but it also hurt Lin (who was not hurt much before).  For Lin, she now has to bear the bad reputation of "fake singing" at her young age (even though the decision was not up to her).  She is regarded to have stolen the glory that belonged to another child.  Is this a burden that she can bear at this young age?  Should she even be bearing it?

I want to go back and talk about "the fake footprints" and the "fake singing" together.  For a movie director, it is bizarre that these two things can be called "fakery."  Computerized techniques are essential nowadays for creating audio-visual effects in movies.  Movies from <The Titanic> to Zhang Yimou's own <Hero> would not exist without computerized special effects.  As for "fake singing" and "lip-synching," they are better known as "dubbing" and "body doubles" in the terminology of movies.  Without the body double, many of the clumsy movie stars would have been dead while trying.  Without the dubbing, those movie stars with pretty faces but are tone-deaf would have been embarrassed out of their careers.  I am unsure whether these techniques should be used at the Olympic opening ceremony.  People can form their own opinions about that.


Reference: Pavarotti lip-synched last performance  Xinhua, April 9, 2008.

Related Links:

The world’s newest insurgency claimed its latest victims yesterday and, to judge by what local people said, they never knew what had hit them. The casualties were security guards, little more than members of a neighbourhood watch, manning a small checkpoint near the oasis city of Kashgar: a simple barrier across the road, a desk with a log of the passing traffic, and a tent where their bodies were found in the early morning.

“There were four of them in the tent,” said a man at a similar checkpoint, a few miles away. “Someone came in during the small hours – they were killed while they slept.” Knives were the weapons used; one man of the four survived and lies in hospital in a critical condition. No one knows who the attackers were, how many there were, or where they are now.


Accounts of the attack were still contradictory last night. The state Xinhua news agency reported that it took place at 9am when a group of men jumped out of a passing car. The full story may not be known until, or unless, the survivor of the attack recovers. “He has pulled away from danger,” a policeman in Yamanya told the Associated Press. “We are now waiting for him to wake up and speak so we can find out more details about what happened.”

(Apple Daily)

[in translation]

The Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was gorgeous and splendid.  More than 4 billion watched it around the world, and they were wowed and awed.  But there are two pieces of fakery in the opening ceremony.  "Fakery" in this grand event is unacceptable no matter what the considerations, reasons and excuses are, because this is basically against the Olympic spirit.  While China has the economic means to construct amazing sport facilities, it is still lagging far behind in the accompanying software.  China must correct its approach in order to become a strong nation that has the respect of people.

The two pieces of "fakery" are the 29 firework footprints and the mesmerizing song <Ode to the Motherland> sung by a little girl.

First, let us talk about the firework footprints.  When the opening ceremony began, the screen showed an invisible giant walking from Yongding River in southern Beijing towards the Bird's Nest stadium.  The footprint was realized in the form of fireworks to create the movement over space and time.  The spectators were awed beyond belief.  This opening scene opened their eyes, and the spectators thought that the 29 footprints were formed from actual fireworks that were being filmed from the air.  But the truth was that while there were fireworks at where the footprints showed up, only the last one was filmed live and the other 28 were 3D computer animations.

The BOCOG information spokesperson Wang Wei confirmed that pre-recorded footage of fireworks had been used that evening.  The mainland newspaper Beijing News interviewed people who worked on the audio-visual effects of the opening ceremony, and they said that they began working on the 3D animation last year and finished in July this year.  The workers said that the there are 29 footprints in the 55-second video and only the last one when the footprint enters the Bird's Nest was live.  The workers even used the Beijing Weather Bureau's weather report to add haze to match the weather conditions in Beijing on the night of the opening ceremony.

First of all, it is understandable that the organizers would want the opening ceremony to be perfect.  They were worried that the weather could affect the fireworks effect and they made a video beforehand in order to assure the quality.  That is understandable too.  But the organizers did not announce the details beforehand and the world knew nothing.  After the "successful" performance, the media reported the truth and the deceptive nature of the process became obvious.

Next, the world wanted to see what actually happened at the opening ceremonies and not some computer or video production that was made beforehand.  If the pre-recorded video of the firework footprints is acceptable, then every scene of the opening ceremony can in theory be pre-recorded and shown by pressing a button at the right moment.

We believe that no one will accept a pre-recorded Olympic opening ceremony.  Therefore, the deceptive 3D electronic firework footprints constitute a huge flaw in these Olympics and leaves behind an indelible blemish.  An imperfect reality is surely better than a perfect forgery.  If the technical problems of the live broadcast cannot be overcome, then either this concept of the footprints of history should be given up or else the possibility of things going wrong during the live broadcast must be accepted.  Instead, the wise people in charge of production chose "fakery" to solve this problem.  This is very regrettable.

The second piece is the song <Ode to the Motherland> sung by the little girl.  On that evening, a 9-year-old girl named Lin Miaoke in red dress was "lip-synching" on stage.  That young, sincere and touching voice was not a pre-recorded song sung by Lin Miaoke.  Instead, it belonged a 7-year-old girl named Yang Pei-yi.  The background and lyrics of the song <Ode to the Motherland> bear a special meaning for contemporary Chinese people.  On that evening, the performance of Lin Miaoke and the heavenly and pure singing captivated the hearts of the vast majority of the Chinese people.  The other 3 billion viewers around the world are probably deeply moved as well.

In an interview, the Olympic opening ceremony music director Chen Qigang said that this amazing song was not sung by the "smiling angel" Lin Miaoke and the voice belonged to Yang Peiyi instead.  Chen Qigang said that Yang Peiyi was dropped because of the her appearance and because of national interests as a result of a decision made by a member of the Politburo.  Ouch!  What kind of country would handle this matter in such an idiotic way?  This is just unbelievable.

First of all, the "lip-synching" by Lin Miaoke is marginally acceptable, because the live performances of many superstars also have similar preparations for emergency situations.  But it is wrong for Lin Miaoke to perform on stage while the voice is not hers.  Unless this was announced beforehand, this is deceptive.

Secondly, there are many lovely children in China.  Why choose Lin's looks and Yang's voice?  Is it so hard to find a child who can both perform and sing?  I believe the majority of the Chinese people disapprove of this.

"In consideration of international image and national interests" was the reason for discarding Yang Peiyi.  Such a decision is frankly infuriating.  Many people who have seen the photo of Yang Peiyi thought that she was lovely, and she would win applause if she dressed up on stage.  Why are the organizers demeaning Yang Peiyi?  How does Yang Peiyi hurt the international image?  How are national interests being hurt?  I think that the relevant people should apologize to Yang Peiyi and her family, and to the people of China.  Those words were verbal violence that hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.

Overseas media report described the firework footprints in terms of "fakery."  Mainland netizens said that Lin Miaoke "lip-synched," Yang Peiyi was debased and the matter was called the 'fake singing affair."  Many unfriendly people said that China is a "grand nation for fakery" since contrabands made in China can be found everywhere in the world.  The Olympics is a mega-event that draws wide attention.  The organizers have now been found to have "motive, method and purpose" in making politics override all else.  This is truly damaging to the international image and national interests.

Fakery is not a traditional virtue of the Chinese people, and it also runs against the Olympic spirit.  Even athletes and judges take the oath not to take drugs, not to cheat and to deal with matters in a fair manner.  But in the opening ceremony that is supposed to embody the Olympic spirit, there was fake videos and singing.  This is no way to use the hosting of the Olympics to rise up with the rest of the world.  Many Chinese people are excited and touched when they see the Chinese athletes train hard, suffer injuries and then win medals in the arena.  We sincerely hope that the the extraordinary achievements of these athletes will win international respect and not be affected by the incomprehensible actions taken by the organizers.

24-year-old Guo Wenjun from Shaanxi province won an Olympic gold medal in the 10-meter air pistol competition.  Afterwards, she disclosed a heartbreaking personal story during an interview.  Her father had vanished ten years ago, for which she felt a lot of pain.  This story was rapidly propagated across the major Internet forums.  Yesterday, our reporter found that Chinese netizens have set off the vaunted "human flesh search engines" at Tianya, MOP and other forums to help Guo Wenjun located her father.

At MOP, the post titled <Start human flesh search on behalf of Olympic champion; Guo Wenjun's father disappeared ten years ago!> appeared at 11:47am on August 11 and it has already drew comments from more than 100 netizens.  At Sina.com, the post <Let us use human flesh search to help Guo Wenjun find her father who has been missing for ten years!> had more than 600,000 page views and more than 1,000 comments.


At the same time that the human flesh search engines started, others are concerned about the possible invasion of the privacy of Guo Wenjun and her family.  "If this happens, it would be a bad result from good intentions."

One netizen said that they will try to protect the privacy of Guo Wenjun and her family as much as possible.  They will try not to publish the private information on the Internet, and use email and QQ groups instead to communicate among themselves.

While the Chinese people were celebrating the advancement of the Chinese women's gymnastics team advancing into the finals with the highest points total, Reuters (UK) must have been dreaming when they reported that "Hosts China fail to qualify for final."

The full text was:

China, one of the favourites for the gold medal, failed to qualify for the women’s gymnastics team final at the Olympics on Sunday.

The 2006 world champions were expected to battle it out with the United States for the top prize but a series of errors meant they failed to reach Wednesday’s final.

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar; Editing by Ed Osmond)

[in translation]

How come I look around and I see that basically everybody dislikes the motherland and the Party?
When they speak, it is about democracy ...
When they speak, it is about how the state is causing them to earn low incomes ....

But I feel that my life is just fine.  I have several hundreds of classmates and friends, and I don't know any of them ending up as a beggar in spite of working hard ...

I don't know whether these complainers refuse to work, and sit home or hang around Internet cafes instead ... in any case, they just complain non-stop ...

Actually, there are poor people in every nation of the world ... that is true in the United States, Europe or Middle East ... if you don't work, you get poor ...

There are no perfect political parties in the world.  The parties in the United States serve the interests of the big corporations and bosses ... our Party serve the interests of the top leaders and their families ... the bottom line is that they are the same ... they all represent only the interests of a small fraction of people ... I think that everybody can see that ...

Back to reality ... our livelihood has clearly improved over the past several years ... many people have bought cars and apartments, and they can even travel overseas for vacation ... in the 1990's, many people cannot imagine ever buying a car or an apartment ...

If you have some ability, if you are not lazy and you have a normal state of mind, you can basically make a relatively decent job and living ... but if you only know how to get on the Internet, play cards, drink alcohol and chat, you will be impoverished in any country of the world ... do not believe that when foreigners live a good life, it means that their country provides them with everything for free ... foreigners also have to work hard in order to live well ... the goodies do not fall from the sky ... and there can't be goodies lying around everywhere in a country ...

Right now people in China basically have steady electricity supply, convenient transportation, abundant food, no obvious hostile foreign enemies, continuously developing industry and commerce, a steady RMB currency that has not depreciated drastically ... that is not an exaggeration ...

Even though we are accustomed to all of the above, if you spend the time to study other countries, you will find that only a dozen countries around the world can do that ... and our China is definitely within the top ten ...

Dissatisfied people should try to shut down their computers and take a look around to see how their local folks are doing ... then you can come back and continue your solo diatribe against our nation and our Party ...

From the first day that I came to the Tianya Forum, I have felt that this is the world of lost and bitter people ... netizens with normal psychology only come here to silently watch the freak show ... I used to think that the MOP Forum is superficial ... now I think that the Tianya Miscellaneous Chat Forum is pitiful ...

(HKU POP via Ming Pao)

Hong Kong Island
31.4%: Tanya Chan/Audrey Eu Yuet-mee (Civic Party)
23.2%: Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee (independent)
15.8%: Tsang Yok-sing (DAB)
12.3%: Kam Nai-wai (Democratic Party)
 8.4%: Cyd Ho (Civic Act-Up)

Kowloon East
28.0%: Alan Leong Kah-kit (Civic Party)
23.2%: Fred Li Wah-ming (Democratic Party)
22.1%: Wong Kwok-kin (Federation of Trade Unions)
17.6%: Chan Kam-lam (DAB)

Kowloon West
21.8%: Frederick Fung Kin-kee (ADPL)
18.7%: James To Kun-sun (Democratic Party)
15.0%: Claudia Mo Man-ching (Civic Party)
12.6%: Starry Lee Wai-king (DAB)
  9.5%: Michael Tien Puk-sun (Liberal Party)

New Territories East
21.9%: Lau Kwong-wah/Gary Chan Hak-kan (DAB)
18.4%: Ronny Tong Ka-wah (Civic Party)
16.7%: Andrew Cheng Kar-foo (Democratic Party)
14.8%: James Tien Pei-chun (Liberal Party)
10.1%: Emily Lau Wai-hing (Frontier)
  7.7%: Leung Kwok-hung (League of Social Democrats)

New Territories West
20.4%: Tam Yiu-chung / Cheung Hok-ming (DAB)
15.3%: Albert Ho Chun-yan (Democratic Party)
13.1%: Lee Cheuk-yan (Confederaton of Trade Unions)
12.0%: Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee (Liberal Party)
11.7%: Leung Yiu-chung (Neighborhood and Workers Service Centre)
  9.7%: Lee Wing-tat (Democratic Party)
  6.1%: Albert Chan Wai-yip (League of Social Democrats)

(Hong Kong Research Association)

Hong Kong Island
23.6%: Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee/Louis Shih Tai-cho (independent)
22.8%: Tanya Chan/Audrey Eu Yuet-mee (Civic Party)
17.6%: Tsang Yok-sing (DAB)
16.0%: Kam Nai-wai (Democratic Party)

Kowloon East
35.2%: Alan Leong Kah-kit (Civic Party)
20.8%: Chan Kam-lam (DAB)
18.3%: Wong Kwok-kin (Federation of Trade Unions)
15.7%: Fred Li Wah-ming (Democratic Party)

Kowloon West
19.5%: James To Kun-sun (Democratic Party)
18.8%: Starry Lee Wai-king (DAB)
13.2%: Frederick Fung Kin-kee (ADPL)
11.3%: Michael Tien Puk-sun (Liberal Party)
10.1%: Leung Mei-fun (independent)

New Territories East
27.1%: Lau Kwong-wah/Gary Chan Hak-kan (DAB)
16.9%: Ronny Tong Ka-wah (Civic Party)
14.5%: James Tien Pei-chun (Liberal Party)
13.3%: Andrew Cheng Kar-foo (Democratic Party)
12.1%: Emily Lau Wai-hing (Frontier)
  7.2%: Leung Kwok-hung (League of Social Democrats)

New Territories West
26.0%: Tam Yiu-chung / Cheung Hok-ming (DAB)
15.5%: Albert Ho Chun-yan (Democratic Party)
12.2%: Lee Wing-tat (Democratic Party)
11.4%: Lee Cheuk-yan (Confederaton of Trade Unions)
10.6%: Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee (Liberal Party)
  8.1%: Leung Yiu-chung (Neighborhood and Workers Service Centre)
  6.1%: Wong Kwok-hing (Federation of Trade Unions)

The textual reports can be found at The Times Online (and also here) for example:

Last night checkpoints sealed off the road to the police headquarters where attackers detonated a wagon filled with explosives at 2.30am, killing a civilian guard and injuring two police. According to the Xinhua news agency, the police fired back, killing one of the attackers and capturing two after a fourth killed himself with his bomb. Half an hour earlier, an explosion blew out windows in a row of businesses. The owner of one café, where people were drinking at the time of the explosion, said: “Suddenly there was a big bang. The customers and I just ran away. When I looked back, my shop was totally destroyed.”

At 8.30am, police cornered five of the alleged attackers under a market stall. Two were shot dead as they threw their bombs while the other three blew themselves up. There were also attacks on a local government building and the premises of a trade organisation. A curfew was imposed and businesses in Kuqa county were ordered to close as police hunted for attackers, who, said Xinhua, had used bombs made from pipes, gas canisters and containers of liquid gas.


A teenage girl and a woman were among the suicide bombers responsible for Sunday’s attacks on a police station, government offices and shops in the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang, in northwestern China, officials said yesterday. A 15-year-old girl, identified as Hailiqiemu Abulizi, was injured when a home-made bomb exploded prematurely. She was said to be in a stable condition after undergoing surgery for injuries including a broken leg and foot. Another woman, who has not been identified by the authorities, died after setting off a bomb that she was carrying when she and four other attackers were cornered in a bazaar in the oasis town of Kuqa.

If there is too much details to read, here is the illustration version in Apple Daily:

Meanwhile, TVB's animated cartoon is here (note: the voice-over is in Cantonese but you can watch the video without needing to listen):


[in translation]

On August 1, 1935, Adolf Hitler presided over the opening ceremony of the Berlin Olympics and nationalistic fervor reached an acme among the German people.  Since losing the First World War, the Germany people had never enjoyed such glory.  In spite of numerous objections internationally, the Olympic Organizing Committee decided to award this most important international sports meet to Adolf Hitler's Germany.  The supporters of the German cause argued that the status of Olympic host country will make Germany more democratic, free and peaceful.

The militarily belligerent Adolf Hitler indeed turned peaceful.  During the Olympic period, the Nazis removed the prejudicial slogans and banners that banned Jews.  Hitler wanted people to think that Germany was the best friend of the world.  But history would show later that Hitler told a huge lie.  While the Olympics were going on, Hitler was promoting peace on one hand and building concentration camps on the other hand.  After the Olympics was over, Germany did not become more democratic and free.  At the Wannseekonferenz, the "Final Solution of the Jewish Problem" was decided upon, and the Hitler regime went on to massacre several million Jews.

Nobody knows if there was a direct relationship between the Olympics and the Holocaust.  But if the entire Nazi regime was founded upon a powerful nationalism, then the 1936 Berlin Olympics no doubt gave German nationalism a strong shot in the arm.  Seventy-two years later on August 8, 2008, we once again saw the Olympics being hosted in a nation without human rights.  The Chinese leader Hu Jintao pushed Chinese nationalism to an acme in the open ceremony à la Zhang Yimou.  On television, the excited emotions of the Chinese people were exactly the same as those of the Germans in 1936.

In order to for the Olympics to go smoothly, the Chinese government began a courtesy campaign early on to let the world see that China is becoming more civilized.  As opening day neared, the whole country went on alert.  Protestors in Tibet and Xinjiang were put under surveillance, arrested and even murdered.  Of course, these actions could not be made known to the Chinese people.  The excited citizens of Beijing could not discern the high degree of alert.  Around the Bird's Nest, there are armed police officers every five steps.  The taxis are reportedly equipped with microphone monitors.  The shops around the stadium are given the sacred duty of reporting to the police.  Windows were ordered shut in tall buildings.  At Tiananmen Square, it is not clear whether there are more undercover police or tourists.  This is the inevitable result when a totalitarian government organizes the peaceful Olympics.  As a nation with such a poor human rights record, China had to mobilize the entire national apparatus to destroy all opposing forces.  In other words, this was a festival held under martial law.  The nationwide celebration inside the stadium and the grim atmosphere outside provide a very acute and ironic contrast.

But from another angle, there are some countries in the world that cannot watch the exciting sports events of the Olympics in a relaxed manner in the comfort of their living rooms.  Regrettably, Taiwan is such a country.  We are not able to appear in the Olympics under the name of Taiwan.  Our athletes have neither country flag nor title.  During the opening ceremony, China changed the traditioanl order of entry of the countries and used the Chinese system instead.  Thus, the team from Taiwan appeared under Zhong and "in the company" of Macau and Hong Kong.  Later on, the whole world saw the important figures of our ruling political party sat, observed and took part in this historical change from the stands.  They did not feel that there was anything inappropriate and they were treated as honored guests by the other side.  Even when the Beijing government said that the Taiwan athletes have "home court advantage" in the mainland, they did not feel anything was wrong and in fact they thought that this was only natural.

There is a saying around the world that politics should not enter sports, which is without borders.  But from the various actions of China against Taiwan during the Beijing Olympics, politics has never been farther away from sports.  The success of the Berlin Olympics made Hitler even more dictatorial and brutal afterwards.  This reminded me of the protest action organized by human rights organizations on Liberty Plaza on the evening of Lovers' Day.  Compared to the grandiose Olympics opening ceremony, the number of persons present there was small.  I was not surprised as I sat among the relatively small crowd.  After all, the Olympics had the attention of everybody and it was like pouring cold water to talk about human rights and democracy.  We cannot deny that China has ulterior purposes with respect to the Olympics.  But we wish that China would pay more attention to human rights.  The greatest duty of China towards the world is not a successful Olympics, but the respect and protection of human rights.

I am not against the Olympics.  I don't oppose Taiwan participating and I cheer warmly for the athletes.  But most of all I wish that someday the representatives from Taiwan can say out the name on their country during the award ceremony.  All our citizens should think whether this dream of Taiwan is getting more and more remote after the Beijing Olympics?

(Associated Press)  Small pro-Tibet protest pulled off in Tiananmen.  By Audra Ang.

Pro-Tibet activists wrapped themselves in Tibetan flags and lay down in Tiananmen Square on Saturday, their group said, in a protest that breached heavy security surrounding the heart of Beijing for the Olympic Games.

The five demonstrators were calling for an "end to the Chinese government's occupation in Tibet," said Lhadon Tethong, executive director of the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet.

John Hocevar, a member of the group who videotaped the protest, said the activists were led away by men who appeared to be plainclothes security agents. He said he did not know where they were taken.


Tethong said four of Saturday's protesters wrapped themselves in the Tibetan national snow lion flag, which is banned in China, and lay down in the south section of the square. The famous portrait of Mao Zedong — communist China's founding leaders — overlooks that section of the square.

The fifth stood by as the others were on the ground and told passers-by why they were protesting, she said.

Tethong identified Saturday's activists as Chris Schwartz, 24, of Montreal, Canada; Diane Gatterdam, 55, Evan Silverman, 31, and Joan Roney, 39, all from New York; and David Demes, 21, of Germany.

Now look at the videos.



The Chinese Internet reaction is puzzlement in several directions.  Firstly, who was this action directed towards?  At TSQ, most of the Chinese spectators have no idea what these people were up to, because everything is in English.  So the whole exercise was a videotape session.  But for whom?  It is for a western audience, but the comments on the YouTube videos were overwhelmingly negative with nary a discussion about serious issues.  Secondly, at the overseas Chinese forums, people wondered why the Chinese citizens did not take the matter into their own hands and beat these people up.  In the second video, that almost happened as it was the undercover security officers who had to shepherd the protestors out.  Thirdly, what is the news value of this story that results in an Associated Press?  That is for the press to explain ...

(New York Times)  A Stabbing Rooted in Loss and Despair.  By Andrew Jacobs.  August 10, 2008.

Tang Yongming was like countless other middle-aged, marginally skilled men struggling to find their way in the new China. Laid off from a meter factory in the central city of Hangzhou, Mr. Tang, 47, found himself idle, broke and living alone in a rented room with no furniture and no future.

Friends and former co-workers said he had become angry and unmoored as he watched China’s surging economy roar ahead without him.

But even though Mr. Tang had moments of despair and frustration, those who knew him were at a loss to explain why he attacked a couple of American tourists and their Chinese guide on Saturday, fatally stabbing a 62-year-old man and slashing the others before leaping to his death from the balcony of the Drum Tower, one of Beijing’s best-known historic monuments.

Todd Bachman, a Minnesota businessman whose son-in-law coaches the men’s volleyball team, was killed. His wife, Barbara, 62, was critically wounded, as was the guide, whose name has not been released.


The killing has provoked hand-wringing and debate on the Internet. Some people fretted that it could tarnish China’s moment of Olympic glory, while others used Mr. Tang’s murderous outburst to rail against a variety of unattended social ills: mental illness, chronic unemployment among laid-off state workers and the rise of xenophobic nationalism.

One widely circulated posting, written anonymously on a popular Web site, seemed to capture the prevailing worry that Mr. Tang’s crime would harm China’s image: “Your actions have hurt not just two Americans, but they have hurt the way Americans will view China during the Games, the way all the people of the world will view China. The bright dream of these momentous Olympics has been darkened by you.”

Much of the debate and the supposition about his motives have been swirling in a vacuum of substantial information. Mr. Tang was unemployed and arrived in Beijing on Aug. 1 for reasons that remain unclear. The only thing he left behind, investigators said, was the government-issued identification card in his pocket.

The Chinese police have painted him as a man turned desperate by personal shortcomings. “He had lost all hope after a series of failures in his life and took his anger out on society,” the police said, according to Xinhua, the state news agency.

Mr. Tang had no criminal record, investigators said, nor was he among the crowds of aggrieved citizens, so-called petitioners, who flock to the capital to file official appeals to the central government.

On the outskirts of Hangzhou, where Mr. Tang spent most of his life, neighbors and former co-workers said he was often disgruntled and prone to argument. “He grumbled a great deal, very cynical,” Zhang Liping, a former colleague, said. “He had an unyielding mouth.”

They agreed that Mr. Tang typified the many working men cast aside by ailing state-run industries. He was angry at being left behind by China’s headlong rush into an economy that lacked the succors of the socialist past. “He had a quick temper and was always complaining about society,” said a former co-worker, who would only give his nickname, Aqing.

Mr. Tang worked as a metal presser at the Hangzhou Meter Factory for more than two decades. When a private company bought the plant five or six years ago, his job was transferred elsewhere and Mr. Tang was demoted to guard at the factory gate. In 2004, colleagues said, he lost that job for reasons that were not clear.

In 2006, his wife, who also worked at the meter factory, divorced him. Mr. Tang sold his house and rented a room nearby in Hengjie, a once-rural town that has become absorbed into Hangzhou’s industrial sprawl. Xinhua, quoting the police, said Mr. Tang’s 21-year-old son spent the money from the sale of the home. Last year the son was arrested for fraud and later received a six-month sentence for burglary.

Jiang Beigen, his landlord, said Mr. Tang paid $53 a month for an unfurnished room. According to Mr. Jiang and other tenants, Mr. Tang seemed to own only one shirt and a single pair of pants, both of which he washed by hand at night. He had no job, they said, and often slept late into the day.

Last week, Mr. Tang announced he was leaving town. According to the police, he called his son that evening and told him he would not be returning until he found success.

(Boxun)  Ai Weiwei: My mailbox received the death note of the assassin Tang Yongming.  August 10, 2008.  (Note: This was an email sent to Boxun by someone who calls himself "Ai Weiwei."  For the background on the real Ai Weiwei, see this Guardian story of Jonathan Watts and Ai Weiwei's own statement about why he will not attend the Olympics opening ceremony).

(in translation)

[Note to the media: There is no proof that such a death note actually exists.  Boxun is publishing this under the section "public viewpoints" and not as "news."]

In order to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and rumors, I am leaving <My Last Words> to the world.

I undertook this extreme act not out of cruelty and madness, but I want to use extreme action to remind the world about the paind of the people who live under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

Please forgive my method.  The amount of pain that the Beijing authorities inflicted in order to hold the Olympics far exceeds that in the tragedy that will occur tomorrow.  The Beijing Olympics has destroyed the lives of many people!  Everybody can see the crimes of corrupt government officials!

We hold no malice against the world.  We love the peoples of the world.  Our action is an "performance art" that expresses the pain of live.  Although this act is art, it is written with blood!

Beloved people, we love you!

Tang Yongming of Hanzhou

Beijing, August 8, 2008.

(Apple Daily)

This newspaper called Ai Weiwei yesterday.  He said that he did not know Tang Yongming and he only read about the death note on the Internet.  He thought that this was a piece of sensationalism on the Internet.  But Ai Weiwei wrote about Tang Yongming on his own blog: "People will ask whether society has become safer with several hundreds of thousands of security guards.  On the contrary, society has become less harmonious because the absence of protests and dissident voices means that the possibility of communication has been lost due to the violence of 'harmonisation'."

Related Link: American killed at Olympics  Joyceland

There is a still photograph afterwards.

(Titan 24)  When reached by the press after midnight, Tan Wangsong said: "I was too impatient on that play.  At the time, we were attacking hard but we did not get any good chances.  Everybody was getting worried.  At the moment, I was pretty calm and I was not losing my mind.  But I was impatient on that defensive play.  At the time, I only wanted to reach the ball but the opposite player pushed the ball to the side.  But my body had already left the ground and I could not change directions.  So I went straight at him.  I could not pull myself back.  I did not deliberately kick him and I did not push my foot down hard.  But the momentum was too big and I kicked him.  I knew that this was a strong move and I immediately apologized.  But it was too late."

At the 64th minute, team captain Zheng Zhi elbowed a Belgian player and was given a red card (=expulsion from the match).  No videos can be found online so far.

Explanation: The Internet videos (谭望嵩飞踹对手被罚下场 and 郑智报复对手红牌离场) are available inside mainland China, but not to anyone outside.  This is the Great Firewall of China in reverse!

Addendum: The following action photos of Tan Wangsong have been published: