You may have noticed a subtle but very real tension about visitors behavior at the 2008 Olympic games in China. At the diplomatic level, countries are silently concerned about potential arrests of their citizens who plan to attend the Olympic games.
China is a country of marvelous sights, wonderful food, and a communist party who is very assertive against people who don’t see things their way. One of the posts in this blog talks about the Olympic torch and the protests that followed it concerning Tibet and their plight. The Chinese government went well out of it’s way to not just suggest their position, but to actually force it on others in other countries. The attempt was so successful they actually got parts of the American government as well as many other countries to enforce that message by playing hide and seek with the torch. Imagine the American government the symbol of freedom and democracy enforcing the views of repression, mass arrests and political prisoners. That is exactly what happened when they insulated the torch from protestors.
The Chinese even made noise when The Dally Lama was talking to John McCain the republican running for president while in the USA.
So now imagine if you would people from a country where one can exercise their right of freedom of speech suddenly place in the capital city of a country who’s view is ‘You can say anything you want as long as it is what we want you to say’. If you don’t do that you can quickly find yourself arrested facing some trumped up charges. Normally people may have the common sense to not make waves there, but add a party atmosphere with alcohol and the formula for trouble is born.
Now some people may say it will be difficult for China to enforce that, but they would be wrong. First china is the most populous country in the world and that becomes obvious once you step off the plane. To find a sales representative for each 2 meter long rack in a department store is common. So to have Chinese government eyes and ears in and around the Olympic venues and area can be expected. If the Chinese government is that assertive in other countries where diplomacy must be considered, you can imagine how assertive they can be when diplomacy is removed.
The Chinese government does not want another set of 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests, however with the Chinese people seeing the moods and openness of Olympic visitors from non communist countries there is always a good chance of returning the spirit of that time. To keep that from happening, there will be an all out effort to repress that spirit.
So the eggshells are well defined at this 2008 Olympics, just take care to be pro communist government, endorse repression and you will be fine. In short do what the Chinese people are forced to do to stay out of jail. Don’t forget to cheer for your team but not too loudly.