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China’s new Olympic fakery scandal: 56 so-called ‘ethnic’ children in opening ceremony actually come from Han majority

Posted by Author on August 17, 2008

Jane Macartney and Hannah Fletcher in Beijing, The Times Online, UK, August 16, 2008 –

As they paraded cheerfully into the Bird’s Nest stadium in their brightly coloured cultural costumes, the 56 smiling children were described as coming from China’s 56 ethnic groups.

Their different hats, dresses and robes may indeed have represented the diversity of the world’s most populous nation. But an official from the children’s dance troupe revealed yesterday that the youngsters did not.

There were no Uighurs, no Zhuangs, no Huis, no Tujias, no Mongols and definitely no Tibetans. Indeed, in the latest in a series of manipulations that have soured memories of the spectacular opening ceremony, all 56 were revealed to be Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

The latest example of artifice comes after revelations that some of the fireworks seen by TV audiences in the opening ceremony were computer-generated and that a song was mimed because the child singer was not deemed pretty enough.

“I think you are being very meticulous,” said Wang Wei, vice-president of the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee, trying to brush the latest revelation aside. “It is rather normal and usual for actors and actresses to be dressed in costumes from different ethnic groups. There is nothing special about it.”

But that was not how the official programme announced the Galaxy Children’s Art Troupe. It declared that the children who clustered around the national flag in a show of unity were from all the various ethnic groups.

One Tibetan told The Times: “They all looked like Han Chinese. It was clear to everyone at the start. But I suppose they thought there was too much risk that even a child could make an unacceptable gesture.”

Officials are particularly sensitive about the disclosure after ethnic riots in Tibet in March when 22 people, mostly Han Chinese, were killed, and after three attacks in the westernmost Xinjiang region against security forces by suspected Muslim separatists.

Many Chinese said that the use of the Han children was normal since they were actors. Others said the decision put the spotlight on the cultural dominance of the Han and the unwillingness of the majority ethnic group to tolerate others. The Communist Party is at pains to play down ethnic differences in the Olympic year.

Officials have also confirmed that a leading dancer injured in a rehearsal for the opening ceremony could be paralysed for life.

Mr Wang declined to say whether Liu Yan, 26, had been paralysed below the waist. “This is a very private question. I understand that she was seriously injured, but I am not sure whether she is paralysed or not. She is hospitalised at this moment.” Photographs of Ms Liu showed her making a V-for-victory sign from her hospital bed and smiling valiantly.

The four-hour show a week yesterday was created by the Oscar-nomin-ated Chinese film director Zhang Yimou. On Tuesday it came to light that the bright-eyed little girl who wowed more than a billion viewers with her sparkling rendition of Ode to the Motherland was miming to the voice of another little girl, Yang Peiyi, whose crooked teeth were deemed unacceptable by a Politburo member.

The 29 giant footprint fireworks that exploded from the Bird’s Nest stadium along the central north-south axis of Beijing were never seen by television viewers. It was technically difficult to film the spectacle so the global audience saw a display of digitally created computer wizardry.

Few Chinese have been upset by the digital sleight of hand. However, many have voiced outrage on the internet about the miming singer. One member of the Muslim Hui minority described how Han Chinese were required to wear white Muslim skullcaps, or head-scarves in the case of women, when the torch relay passed through the western Ningxia province. “It was all fake. But we are used to this.”

– Original: New fakery scandal, as China’s ‘ethnic’ children actually come from Han majority , The Times Online

One Response to “China’s new Olympic fakery scandal: 56 so-called ‘ethnic’ children in opening ceremony actually come from Han majority”

  1. […] forma algo semelhante aos patéticos episódios da “falsa menina cantora” e da “marcha étnica” dos Jogos Olímpicos, nesta muito mediática expedição espacial a China tornou a recorrer […]

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