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One World, One Dream, Four Mascots
August 9, 2007 3:30 PM   Subscribe

China Praises Its Progress Toward Olympics. With one year to go before the 2008 Olympics, China still has many challenges ahead, like dealing with Beijing's terrible air pollution. There is still much criticism over China's record on human rights and freedom of the press, and some protests. But perhaps the most embarrassing public relations setback is that one of the official mascots, Yingsel (aka Yingying) the Tibetan Antelope, has defected from China's Olympic team and gone underground to campaign for a free Tibet. [Some links via BB and MoFi.]
posted by homunculus (43 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yingsel was previsouly discussed here.
posted by homunculus at 3:32 PM on August 9, 2007


I'd say China has bigger problems than mascots: slave labor, selling organs of prisoners, imprisoning dissidents, etc...
posted by CameraObscura at 3:33 PM on August 9, 2007


In other news: China tells living Buddhas to obtain permission before they reincarnate
posted by homunculus at 3:35 PM on August 9, 2007


can we get a word from the tibetan jackalope?
posted by bruce at 4:09 PM on August 9, 2007


You mean they used a conquered peoples symbol as a mascot? Wow, how sneaky of them.
Signed,
A Cleveland Indians fan
http://images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&rls=GGLG%2CGGLG%3A2005-41%2CGGLG%3Aen&q=chief+wahoo
posted by sensi63 at 4:48 PM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


What do the other Fuwa have to say about this?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:53 PM on August 9, 2007


Have you seen the freakin' smog in that city???

Saw a few "progress stories" on the teev the other day and the sky was brownish yellow in every shot. And it was low smog too.

Is that normal for Beijing?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:58 PM on August 9, 2007


hope none of those althetes get thirsty.
posted by killy willy at 5:08 PM on August 9, 2007


Is that normal for Beijing?

Unless it rains, yes. A good rain will produce blue skies for a day or so. The residents claim the smog is mostly dust blowing in off the Mongolian plains. I guess they don't notice the smell of coal smoke, and haven't seen the satellite photos.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:13 PM on August 9, 2007


In other sad environmental news from China, the Yangtze freshwater dolphin has been declared extinct. The article states that it is the first extinction of a large vertebrate in over 50 years.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 5:30 PM on August 9, 2007


Kirth: to be fair, sand storms are a regular spring-time occurrence in addition to the coal pollution. It's easy to tell the two apart - smog is easy enough on the eyes, but the sand grains are large enough to require protective glasses when walking in the wind.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 5:32 PM on August 9, 2007


If Beijing doesn't get it together, I might have to reconsider my opinion of this guy as a joke. He allegedly said in 2000 that the last Olympic games would be in 2004. Granted, there was Torino which apparently proves the prediction wrong, but maybe like a lot of people, John dismissed the winter olympics as not relevant.

A lot is riding on Beijing. I like to believe John Titor is a joke. Otherwise, I'd find myself either running in place screaming or curled up in a fetal position sobbing softly.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:42 PM on August 9, 2007


Thanks Kirth, bcc.

I've just confirmed with a Chinese born work colleague that a lot of it is dust and dirt. She did add that it was Chairman Mao's fault for chopping down too many trees.

And she also added that the pollution in her home city of Guangzhou is 100% industrial pollution.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:42 PM on August 9, 2007


He allegedly said in 2000 that the last Olympic games would be in 2004.

Thanks for the heads-up on that fella. Never heard of it before – I love a good "whackjob theory" every once in a while. Will have to read later.

It's hard to tell (latitudinal vs. longitudinal study) why I think the Olympics have sucked recently. Is it because they truly are beginning to suck with all IOC egos and the extra sports and events and drug cheats and carry on (we even have athletes in Oz taking their non-selection to the courts for gawd's sake)?

Or is it because I'm getting old and jaded and, like, EVERYTHING doesn't contain as much wonder and beauty as it used to?!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:54 PM on August 9, 2007


If by "free tibet" You mean "theocratic tibet"
posted by delmoi at 6:06 PM on August 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've visited Beijing and Shanghai several times. To say the air is polluted is an understatement; it's unbreatheable.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:21 PM on August 9, 2007


If by "free tibet" You mean "theocratic tibet"

Well, I don't (I can't speak for Yingsel), and I don't think Tibet would revert to it's previous state. The exile comunity has invested too much in democratic reforms, and I think they mean it. A new independent Tibet would be very different from the previous one, IMO.

But it's really irrelevant, since there will not be a free Tibet. An enormous number of Han Chinese have moved there, and for all practical purposes Tibet is Chinese now. There's no more chance of China giving Tibet back to the Tibetans then there is of the US giving the Dakotas back to the Sioux.
posted by homunculus at 6:23 PM on August 9, 2007


In other news, the three Canadian students from Vancouver/Victoria recently detained in China for unfurling a 42-square meter "FREE TIBET" banner have been released.
posted by ageispolis at 6:27 PM on August 9, 2007


It'll be interesting to see if there are more drugs at Burning Man or the 2008 Olympics.
posted by sien at 6:57 PM on August 9, 2007


I live in Beijing. The air here is worse than any other city I've ever been, and I've visited quite a few bad ones. The "dust and dirt" excuse is unmitigated horseshit. Sure there are the spring dust storms (thanks to desertification and overfarming in Inner Mongolia), but the difference is obvious as blindcarboncopy mentioned. Most days you can't see skyscrapers further than two blocks away. You have to go about 2-3 hours outside the city in order to escape it, but once you do it's blue skies and beautiful rolling green hills as far as you care to look.

My wife lived here for a year, and went home with permanent asthma. I quit smoking ten years ago, but I recognize the smoker's cough I have every morning when I wake up. And I have friends who tell me that there are far worse cities in China.

The air is going to wreak havoc on the Olympic athletes unless something drastic happens. The government has been desperately experimenting with several solutions for the Olympics -- cloud seeding to make it rain for a week before the event, running models of shutting down all the factories within 100 km and getting all but the essential traffic off the road.
posted by xthlc at 7:31 PM on August 9, 2007


But it's really irrelevant, since there will not be a free Tibet. An enormous number of Han Chinese have moved there, and for all practical purposes Tibet is Chinese now. There's no more chance of China giving Tibet back to the Tibetans then there is of the US giving the Dakotas back to the Sioux.

This is just not true, Tibetans are still the largest ethnic group in the country and most of the Han are concentrated in the big cities, and many are members of the military who were forced to move to Tibet. Given the chance, I think most of them would leave the country.

It sucks that Tibetan Independence is dismissed as just a hippy thing not to be taken seriously. The Chinese treat the Tibetans like shit, they have no legitimate historical claim to the territory and most Tibetans want independence. It's imperialism at its worst.
posted by afu at 7:36 PM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


>Or is it because I'm getting old and jaded and, like, EVERYTHING doesn't contain as much wonder and beauty as it used to?!

Ding, ding, ding!

Although, it's all that other stuff, too.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:48 PM on August 9, 2007


This is just not true, Tibetans are still the largest ethnic group in the country and most of the Han are concentrated in the big cities, and many are members of the military who were forced to move to Tibet. Given the chance, I think most of them would leave the country.

I hope you're right.
posted by homunculus at 8:47 PM on August 9, 2007


killy willy, that picture is appaling. And mezmerizing. Makes me want to get out Google Earth.
posted by anthill at 9:04 PM on August 9, 2007


I'm up late, and I've had a drink or two, so I'm a bit behind the 8-ball, but can someone please explain how a fictional mascot can "defect"? I gather this is simply a PR move by the Free Tibet folks and has no effect on the actual number of mascots? Or am I missing something?
posted by desjardins at 9:35 PM on August 9, 2007


It's a PR move by the free Tibet folks in response to a previous PR move by the Chinese Olympic folks. No actual chiru were harmed by or even aware of these events.
posted by homunculus at 9:50 PM on August 9, 2007


Thanks. I'm going to bed now.
posted by desjardins at 10:00 PM on August 9, 2007


Dream of antelopes.
posted by homunculus at 10:13 PM on August 9, 2007


Speaking of dreaming: Tibet asks to send its own team to Beijing.
posted by tellurian at 10:55 PM on August 9, 2007


Very much agree with afu about Tibet's imperial subjection, though I think the non-Tibetan population may be larger and more permanent than you think. The integration of infrastructure and economy makes perhaps some more genuine autonomy under a putative reformed Chinese government in a few decades the last best hope I fear, and that not likely.
I find it hard to have much but contempt for anyone who buys the Party line about old Tibet. It strikes me as largely coming from a lazy knee-jerk against the admittedly often simplistic stance of the dewy-eyed wing of the pro-Tibet lobby, and that's no excuse. You only have to look to Ladakh or Bhutan to see how ethnically similar polities have modernised in a far less traumatic way over a similar period (by no means plain sailing there either of course).
posted by Abiezer at 3:48 AM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Shame they didn't choose a Yangtze river dolphin as a mascot - oh! Silly me - it's because they're all fucking dead!

So Long and Thanks For All The Fish...
posted by longbaugh at 4:38 AM on August 10, 2007


Olympic artist attacks China's pomp and propaganda.
"All the shitty directors in the world are involved. It's disgusting," said Ai. "I don't like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgement. It is mindless."
As Ai points out, the Party is in no position to bleat about the politicisation of the Games when that is exactly what they themselves have been doing.
Anyone calling Zhang Yimou on his recent snivelling spittle-licking can't be far wrong, either.
posted by Abiezer at 5:01 AM on August 10, 2007


Also: 奥你妈的运!
posted by Abiezer at 5:20 AM on August 10, 2007


You clean air elitist need to back off and accept that some cultures in the world prefer their daily mineral allowances via air intake. Yeesh. :P
posted by Atreides at 6:07 AM on August 10, 2007


My kingdom for an 's.' But in other news, Tibet will be China's until China descends into chaos again and fragments like it does every number of centuries.

....

In concerns to the pollution, from what I've read, as long as the wind blows from the north, things will be acceptable. However, thats no guarantee.
posted by Atreides at 6:11 AM on August 10, 2007


I find it hard to have much but contempt for anyone who buys the Party line about old Tibet. It strikes me as largely coming from a lazy knee-jerk against the admittedly often simplistic stance of the dewy-eyed wing of the pro-Tibet lobby, and that's no excuse.
Contempt away. I'm not happy with the stance that the Dalai Lama is taking. I consider him the head of the exiled government. I'd like to believe that afu is correct but I think it's a lost cause. No major force is supporting Tibet. If you are talking about the party line of 'old Tibet' as promulgated by the Chinese government as a reason to take over Tibet to free them from the 'oppression' of the oligarchy that kept them from integration with western culture that they enjoyed over many years in the form of culture exchange, tourism and religious freedom, then you are a winner. If you are talking about the good old days in Lhasa then you are a loser.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge supporter of Tibet as an autonomous country, I took part in a ten day fund-raising cycling protest ride from Sydney to Canberra a few years ago, culminating in a protest in front of the Chinese Embassy. I still attend Tibetan get-togethers (but nowadays they are more Tibetan Culture Awareness events). Free Tibet doesn't have much impetus I'm afraid.
posted by tellurian at 10:03 AM on August 10, 2007


Gad, I'm just gutted about the news regarding the river dolphin. I hope the olympics are nice and lots of abs are on display during the swimming and gymnastics, etc., but still...

The river dolphins are gone. That's incredibly sad.
posted by h00py at 10:46 AM on August 10, 2007


That's about the size of it tellurian. I am no advocate of the mediaeval regime being preserved in aspic, but note that already Tibet was natively producing reformers and was far from a static society that could have only changed through the kind of outside intervention seen. Further, the Lhasa regime was far from the only political force in pre-modern Tibet. I have been fortunate to make the acquaintance of Tsering Shakya and was greatly influenced in my view of Tibetan history by his work and that of Melvyn Goldstein.
posted by Abiezer at 1:55 PM on August 10, 2007


Of course China gets to keep Tibet. They won the war. You could do that back then, the rules are different now. Mostly. By the same token they don't get Taiwan back. Nothing short of war changes either of those two situations.

I find the Free Tibet movement annoying, not because I lack sympathy for the Tibetans, but because there is no such similar support in the West for a Free Uyghurstan. I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that the Uyghurs don't have a cool religion like the Tibetans do.
posted by bluejayk at 5:54 AM on August 11, 2007


That's more than a bit silly, bluejayk. The history of twentieth century colonial disengagement is replete with negotiated relinquishment of territory conquered by force of arms. Some future China may well take the grown-up approach.
I recently read an internal Party circular by a retired propaganda worker who is ethnically Mongolian, criticising the failure of China's national minorities policy to live up to its designed intent. He shows quite clearly that it was recognised that in a multi-ethnic country with one culture overwhelming predominant, a high level of autonomy was essential for minority groups. He argues this was subverted to become a regional rather than ethnic autonomy. The Stalinist-inspired policy was always a mess and almost certainly insincerely applied for the most part, but whatever, it has failed even by its own lights.
If you think East Turkestan gets little international support, spare a thought for the Yi. There's more of them in the PRC than there are Tibetans or Uighurs, but almost nobody beyond China has even heard of them, let alone works for the preservation of their culture. Again, this does nothing to undermine the fundamental right of the Tibetans or anyone else to self-determination.
posted by Abiezer at 8:00 AM on August 11, 2007


The right of national self-determination? That's one of those fundamental rights that hardly anyone actually gets, isn't it?

You're right, I was being a bit silly. But I do find the movement frustrating. What does a free Tibet mean? Does it mean a new Tibetan nation-state? That really would take a war. Does it mean meaningful autonomy and representation in government? While we're getting that for the Tibetans, can the Hans have some too? Free China!
posted by bluejayk at 10:52 AM on August 11, 2007


I am very much for self-determination for the Han people too, and really a democratic China with the rule of law is the best hope for the Tibetans, Mongolians, Dai, Orochen and the rest. I haven't got much use for ethnic nationalism, despite the impression my above comments may have given. One big federation of loved-up mutual aid communes was my vote, but it seems to have got lost in the post.
posted by Abiezer at 11:35 AM on August 11, 2007


China Enacting a High-Tech Plan to Track People
posted by homunculus at 2:24 PM on August 12, 2007


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