July 13th 2008

The Lilith eZine Sunday Edition

Letter from the Editor

Less than a month from now the Olympics will begin in Beijing China. Leaving nothing to chance China is even drilling its Olympics hostesses in how to smile for 10 minutes at a time, and to hold that position flawlessly.

To pass testing they must always show between six and eight teeth and be capable of unflinchingly holding their grin for 10 minutes at a time. Training includes hours of walking around with a chopstick clamped between their smiling teeth to build up their facial muscles.

800,000 students are being taught how to clap and cheer in unison, and even the weather will be strictly controlled using "cloud-seeding" techniques to ensure it doesn't rain during the Olympic Games' scheduled hours.

For all its welcoming smiles, for all of China's cultural heritage and charm, this is the face of modern China. A rigidly controlled one where Freedom of Speech is only allowed if it doesn't go against the government's wishes and where even religion has to be strictly controlled and government sanctioned.

The Communist government has even made a set of strict rules for how Chinese are expected to behave during the Olympics, with severe punishments for disobedience.

For example failure to to be neatly dressed will result in people being "transferred to public security departments". That is just for a minor infraction, likely the result of public drunkenness.

There are much more worrisome rules like how Pro-Tibetan demonstrators are to be imprisoned during the length of the Olympic games and only released at the end. There's even a silly new law saying that demonstrators need a permit to demonstrate, implying imprisonment will be done without trial and violators will have no due process.

Then there is all the propaganda prepared for the games. The Chinese government has created a lengthy list of statistics to show all the improvements China has made in recent years. Many of the statistics seem geared to cover up some of China's very serious problems.

The Chinese government claims the carbon monoxide levels in Beijing has dropped 39.4% since 1998, but since its one of the most polluted cities in the world I doubt it makes a difference. With all the rules and propaganda China is pushing many visitors are likely to be both impressed with China, and utterly dismayed with China's government.

Suzanne MacNevin
Editor of the Lilith eZine

PS. I don't recommend drinking the local water.

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