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China: The land of communist phonies

Posted by Author on August 14, 2008

Jonathan Kay, The National Post, Canada, Aug. 13, 2008-

Holden Caulfield, call your office. I have discovered the promised land of phoniness.

During Friday’s opening ceremonies in Beijing, a 9-year-old girl named Lin Miaoke sang a ballad to a packed stadium and a billion television viewers. But the voice coming out of our TV sets wasn’t hers. It belonged to a 7-year-old girl named Yang Peiyi.

The Communist Party decided Peiyi had the better voice, buy Miaoke was better looking — so they created a phony hybrid of the two. “The reason was for the national interest,” said Chen Qigang, general music designer of the opening ceremonies. “The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feeling and expression.”

Only in communist China is being phony considered a “national interest.”

And humiliating children in front of a sixth of the world’s population just the tip of the iceberg. In the People’s Republic, this sort of phoniness goes on all the time.

Gymnasts competing in Beijing are required to be at least 16. The average size on the 6-girl Chinese gymnast squad is 4’-9” and 77 pounds — 30 pounds lighter than the average for the American team. The smallest Chinese girl weighs just 68 pounds.

Does that sounds like a teenager two years away from adulthood? As one former Olympic gymnastics coach put it: “We know what a 16-year-old should look like. They should not look like they are seven and maybe still in diapers.”

Oh, and it turns out the lip-sync wasn’t the only fraudulent thing about the opening ceremonies. The purportedly spectacular fireworks broadcast for the world’s benefit were cobbled together with digital video effects — a cheap Hollywood trick that’s as phony as Lin Miaoke’s rendition of Ode to the Motherland.

In fact, Beijing itself has been turned into a sort of giant shrine to phoniness.

Three-meter high “culture walls” have been erected in front of shabby neighborhoods, to block tourists’ view of the undesirables. In other cases, crumbling buildings have been hastily covered with phony facades. All of Beijing’s female meeters and greeters are pretty things in their 20s. In China’s Potemkin world, surrounding tourists with women who are young and hot — oops, sorry, I mean “flawless in image, internal feeling and expression” — is very much “in the national interest.”

The city was shamelessly phony even before it got the Olympics: When IOC officials came to evaluate the location in 2001, the government sprayed thousands of gallons of green paint on dead brown grass.

You have to be a giant phony to even think about doing something like that.

Phony tykes, phony gymnasts, phony lawns, phony buildings. If the Beijing organizers were looking for a theme, I guess they’ve found one.

– Original: The National Post, Canada

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