I’m getting excited for the olympics to kick off in Beijing two days from now. I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to the games as much as the potential story lines coming out of censorship-ridden China. To date, the Chinese government has restricted use of automobiles around the city to try and reduce the gross smog, they are shooting chemicals in the sky trying to change the weather (August is rainy in China), they are putting up propaganda flyers advising locals to not speak to foreign olympic tourists regarding chinese culture/history, and going to various other lengths to censor the media and message coming out of their country (like censoring the internet).
On a less communist slaint, check out this cool interactive map from nytimes.com on the history of medals won at the olympics, by country and year:
Some of the Interesting Years: 1904 – US Dominates!, 1980 – US Doesn’t Show Up in Moscow, 2004 – Countries all over the world are developing better athletes.
The Olympic Torch was in San Francisco today, where about 80 people got to carry the torch throughout ‘part’ of the city. The original route had the torch going down the Embarcedero (near the baseball stadium), but due to large groups of protestors, the city pulled a bait and switch and re-routed at the last second going through the middle part of the city down Van Ness and into the Marina (by the Golden Gate bridge).
It was an interesting experience to say the least – protestors abound with philosophies on what is wrong with the world – human rights, animal rights, free speech rights, internet rights, save darfur, free tibet, free burma, pro-china, protest beijing, support the olympics, end sweatshops. It presented the very problem that marketers face all day every day. Clutter.
Everyone with an agenda was there to shout about it. Most people were there to find their opposing group, and shout at them telling them why the other group is stupid or biased or just plain wrong. It is commendable though that many young people were out supporting causes like Darfur. Passion is good.
The two major protesting topics were Tibet and Darfur.
In Tibet, while there is some international debate about the current human rights status, there is no debate that China occupies their country, and they have gone through 50+ years of oppression. The Free Tibet protestors aim to shed light on the human rights abuses against the Tibetans.
China, with its population size and global trade strength, has tremendous leverage it can use to either support or discourage behaviors. At the moment, China is Sudans largest oil customer (among other things), and has done nothing to discourage their government to end the genocide in Darfur. In 2007, China’s trade imports doubled from Sudan. This shows China is supporting the Sudanse Government and ignoring the genocide. That is wrong. And the world is speaking out.
For more information you can go to the following sites: