Thursday, 24 July 2008

My Sadness - An Injustice of Olympic Proportions

I have lived in Shanghai now since the turn of the century and during that time I have learned to love China..well at least Shanghai. I have been a staunch defender of a central government because I have seen how democracy is fundamentally flawed. I have watched the Bush Administration democratically elected twice, deceive their voters, rig the election and plunge the country into another pointless war. I thought to myself that there must be a better way and I thought, at least for a while, that China was getting it right.

When I compared the Sichuan Quake to Hurricane Katrina, I saw the huge difference between a government that worked and one that didn't but since then, one thing has undone much of the trust I placed in China. It's not the Olympics and they way they are handling security. It's not Tibet, and it's not even the fact that folk here don't have a vote. It is the way that grieving parents of children lost in the school collapses have been brushed aside.

For a moment, I thought they were on track. Premier Wen was at ground zero in less than a day to provide direction and comfort. The PLA were airdropped in to provided rescue teams in isolated locations. They managed to divert rivers and ease damaged dams that had the potential to wash entire communities a way. As I watched this unfold I thought to myself, this is how you bring a nation together. The country banded together and billions of yuan were collected to provide relief and to aid in the reconstruction. Foreign media were given access and foreign aid was gratefully recieved. They even announced that they would investigate why so many schools collapsed when neighbouring buildings did not crumble.

I recall in one account, an entire class was trapped under the rubble. You could hear them crying and to keep their spirits up the class began to sing. After two days the singing stopped. When a read that report I cried. Now just writing about it, my eyes are already welling with tears.

So I waited. I waited for the investigation. I waited for parents to be told that someone along the line had messed up. Maybe it was corruption or maybe it was just error in judgment but I waited for the government I had learned to trust, the government that had given me hope that there was something better than anarchy would step forward and say "here is the evidence, and here are our findings and here is the reason why an entire generation of children in Sichuan are gone."

Instead I read this, this and this.

I remember when Sydney got the Olympics I was in my final year of Uni and when in 2000 they held the Sydney Games I was already in Shanghai. It was truly a happy affair. I could feel Australia's pride from half way around the world.

In 14 days the Beijing Olympics should have also been a proud moment for my ancestral country. China should have been able to say that they pulled together in a time of crisis and and matured as a nation and celebrated the Beijing Games with their heads held high.

Instead, I will remember 2008 as the year China put a sporting event ahead of justice. I will remember this year as the year that some bureaucrat profited from the death of tens of thousands of school children and got away with it. At the beginning of August, the rubble from the collapsed schools will be cleared away. I hope and pray that the evidence that is needed to bring justice has already been collected.

As a final note (and I know the good folk at the GFW are reading this) I understand that this is a time when the world is watching China and it is not the time to air dirty laundry. I don't believe that you are evil, and deep down in the most primeval depth of my heart I hope that an investigation did take place, the criminals found and quietly dragged from their homes in the middle of the night. I know this is something you are capable of and if ever there was a time to exercise this power, now is the time.


Ryan said...

Well said man.

Gerry said...

Reminds me of Wag the Dog. Remember the B-3 Bomber? Yes yes, there is NO B-3 Bomber. (Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeniroDistracting the general public from what you don't want them to focus on by giving them something even bigger to focus on. It's all a magic trick... sleight of hand magnified and then again.

Felix Ple┼čoianu said...

The USA is not a typical democracy, just as China is not a typical communist dictatorship. The former is worse than the norm, whereas the latter is better. But a poor democracy is still a democracy, and ordinary people have the freedom to do themselves what the government doesn't. Whereas a "good" dictatorship (heh) is still restrictive and uncaring by design. Case in point: remember what happened when the American administration effectively abandoned the Katrina victims? That's right, self-organized volunteers took over. They had both the freedom (here's the "f" word again...) and the resources to help, and they did.
Could the Chinese even begin to do that sort of thing?

Anonymous said...

"Could the Chinese even begin to do that sort of thing?" - well, actually, they did. Haven't you been following the news this year?