Friday, June 20

"Out damn'd spot!" China's Potemkin Village Olympics and the complicity of the IOC and the global corporations profiting from the Olympics

"Potemkin village has come to mean, especially in a political context, any hollow or false construct, physical or figurative, meant to hide an undesirable or potentially damaging situation"

There is every evidence that the decision to hold the 2008 Olympics in China has only made it easier for the Chinese Communist Party to railroad China's poorest and give the world a false impression about the extent of the country's progress. That a Western organization steeped in the democratic tradition was complicit in this outrage is a stain that the International Olympics Committee can never erase.

Now comes the story of how China's government has diverted water from villages already facing drought, in order to put on a show of lushness for foreign visitors to the Olympics.* Writing in the July issue of Portfolio, Peter Waldman observes:
[...] When the Beijing Games open, they will present a lush tableau—an Olympian feat in this semiarid capital. But the water has been wrung from the countryside. Farms and villages are dying, and the poor are the losers. [...]

[T]he Olympics are exacerbating China’s water problems. To ensure enough potable water for an expected 1.5 million visitors in August, Beijing is tapping 80 billion gallons of so-called backup supply from four reservoirs in neighboring Hebei Province.

Yet water levels in these reservoirs are already dangerously low. So to sustain the population boom on the semiarid Beijing plain, China’s water planners are scrambling to build pipelines, canals, and water tunnels farther and farther into the hinterlands.

Worse, the water routed from Hebei to the Olympics site was supposed to shore up Lake Baiyangdian, an environmental jewel with its own drought problems. To feed the lake, China is pumping 40 billion gallons of water from the Yellow River in Shandong Province, 250 miles away. For every gallon from the Yellow River that arrives at the lake via the 1,400-year-old Grand Canal, nearly four gallons are lost along the way, according to the Dazhong Daily, a state newspaper in China.[...]
There is much more to the story, which I hope you will clip and send to the IOC and major sponsors of the 2008 Olympics.

Also writing for July's Portfolio, Tunku Varadarajan observes in No Word From Our Sponsors:
Coke, G.E., and McDonald's will get global exposure from the Beijing Olympics. Now they need to end their silence on China.
Yes they do. Read the rest here. Varadarajan points out that while capitalism may be blind to moral issues, consumers shouldn't be.

A note about John Batchelor's Torchwatch blog, which for months has been documenting the farce of the China Olympics and related machinations of China's rulers:

Along with all the work preparing for his weekly six-hour radio show, John is now blogging for his new website, John Batchelor Show. With all that, I'm hoping he will be able to keep up Torchwatch because it makes a good historical record.

As my way of pitching in to keep the blog going, I'm sending him any relevant articles I come across on the 'Genocide Olympics' and titling my email "For Torchwatch." I urge readers to consider doing the same.

Here is John's email address at his new website:

* Thanks to reader and sometime (not-enough-times!) Pundita contributor Annlee Hines.

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