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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 9-Aug-07
China puts on spectacular 2008 Olympics party rehearsal - a year in advance.

Web Log - August, 2007

China puts on spectacular 2008 Olympics party rehearsal - a year in advance.

It carries all the hopes and anxieties of a Sweet Sixteen coming out ball.

Computer-generated image of the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest. <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: Xinhua)</font>
Computer-generated image of the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest. (Source: Xinhua)

I've written before about how focused the Chinese are on the 2008 Beijing Games of XXIX Olympiad as the most important event of the young millennium, allowing the country to takes its place as a respected great world power.

The country has already spent enormous sums of money on construction of buildings, and everything is way ahead of schedule.

The Olympics will open on August 8 of next year (8/8/2008) -- and 8 is considered a lucky number by the Chinese.

On Wednesday, August 8 of this year, at 8 pm, China celebrated the upcoming Olympics by throwing a huge rehearsal party

Scenes from the opening of the spectacular rehearsal party.  The girl on the bottom is definitely not Kerry Browne, who is male and is doing a voice-over commentary. <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: BBC)</font>
Scenes from the opening of the spectacular rehearsal party. The girl on the bottom is definitely not Kerry Browne, who is male and is doing a voice-over commentary. (Source: BBC)

Here is the commentary by China analyst Kerry Browne:

"This is the great coming out party. This is the moment when I think China gets much closer to being what it feels it is - a real global power, a real superpower.

I think the buildup to next year it will be fairly contradictory. On the one hand, the Chinese will make a real effort to satisfy the [Olympics] committee and the outside world that they're doing this the right way, but they'll be very, very sensitive over lots of different issues, as they get towards the end, they'll be overly sensitive sometimes, with a surprising effect.

[On the question of air pollution in Beijing:] The Chinese Communist Party can't play god - they've shifted a lot of heavy industry out of Beijing - they want to improve the air quality.

The've been very successful economically because of [their industry], but the cost is that the chinese environment is absolutely critical.

[On the question of labor reform and human rights.]

There's a Yin and Yang thing. In some ways they've responded quite quickly to claims that there's been stuff produced for the Olympics that involved bad labor practices. On the other hand, this means so much to them, that I don't think that they'll act rationally in some areas, especially when we get closer to it.

I think the problem is that they will in some ways be reasonable, in some ways they'll be over-sensitive -- it's difficult to know really how this will pan out.

I don't think they want this to be remembered as the tyrant's or dictator's olympics.

They really want this to be a showcase. The problem is the things that they can't control - the reporters, the environment - things like that - that's where they might act irrationally and do things that we don't expect and which they really can't control.

The thing to remember is that they've never really had this experience -- they've had big events like the Asian games in the early 90s, and also the UN conference in the mid 1990s. But this is by far the biggest exposure they've ever had. So in a sense having all of this attention, all of these journalists, they really have no record of having had to deal with this. That's something that they've got to learn very quickly.

I think they do learn very, very quickly, but they are going to have some rough lessons, I think. And we're going to have some lessons too when journalists do go and start picking up things that they don't want the rest of the world to know."

The thing that really caught my attention is the high state of emotion around this event. It will be very easy for things to go wrong, and when they do, someone is going to get blamed, and there are many scenarios when the people being blamed will be the Americans or the Japanese, two of China's enemies (or, more precisely, enemies-to-be, according to Generational Dynamics).

This is the kind of situation that I watch out for on this web site. When a country enters a generational Crisis era, as China is doing, then it becomes increasingly possible that some event will cause the people to panic, to miscalculate, and to start a war. That's what happened last summer when two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped near the Lebanon border and and Israel panicked and launched the Lebanon war within four hours, with no plan and no objectives. That's how generational crisis wars start.

China is a country under an enormous amount of pressure. There are internal pressures driving it to civil war, as I explained in 2005, and those pressures have gotten worse, as the divide between rich and poor has grown. There's increasing enmity with Japan. The country has been planning for war with the United States for five years, repeatedly threatening war with the US over Taiwan, and spending more and more money on massive militarization.

And now the Chinese are talking about using the economic "nuclear option" against the United States.

China's relations with Taiwan are getting increasingly tense, as generational changes in Taiwan make it more "Taiwanese" and less "Chinese" every day. Furthermore, Taiwan has parliamentary elections in the fall, and presidential elections in the spring. The Chinese are desperately hoping that the elections will bring a new pro-Chinese government to power in Taiwan, but this is extremely unlikely, in view of the generational changes that I mentioned.

So the emotional contrasts are huge and dramatic. I mentioned the analogy to a "sweet sixteen" coming out party, because the Chinese are hoping that the Olympics will solve all their problems -- their internal problems and their external problems. It's an almost certain guarantee that things will go wrong, and then anything might happen. (9-Aug-07) Permanent Link
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