Posted by: rbbadger | August 9, 2008


Well, the first day of the Olympics has gone pretty well.  The first medal in the whole games was won by the Czech Republic.  China has won two gold medals so far and the USA is doing well.  South Korea has netted a silver and gold thus far, the gold being in judo and the silver being in shooting.  I rather think that some Korean Nationalists will get perverse joy out of the Koreans winning the gold in the sport which the Japanese invented.  (Judo was invented in the 19th century by Kano Jigoro.)  Korea did well in Tae Kwon Do in the 2004 Olympics and I am hoping that they will continue to do well this year.  One of the joys of living in Korea is that the Tae Kwon Do matches WILL be broadcast here, so I am hoping to see them if possible.  (The traditional Korean wrestling, known as ssireum (씨름) is sometimes broadcast.)  The Republic of China (Taiwan) has won a bronze medal in weighlifting.  So far, so good.

While I hope that everything goes well there, I must say that I am opposed to the games being there.  I simply do not believe that the Chinese government is mature enough to handle it.  They can’t handle dissent in their own country.  And, of course, not every Chinese citizen is happy that the games are there.  Their voices simply are not heard.  An interesting story in AsiaNews (a news service under the auspices of the PIME Fathers) interviewed some ordinary Chinese people on the street.  Their views are interesting to say the least:  Of course, it must be admitted that South Korea’s political situation was hardly ideal when it was awarded the games, though fortuitously, they marked a watershed moment in Korean democracy.  The year before, Korea finally had its own direct elections for the presidency.  In 1988, the first popularly elected president, Roh Tae-woo, opened the games in Seoul. 

China is, in many ways, a fragile power.  Its financial state, what with the banks having to deal out loans (so far, many of which are non-performing) to Stated Owned Enterprises (SOEs) leads one to question the stability of the banking system.  The Chinese government is terribly fearful of dissent of any kind.  Its actions don’t speak of a mature state secure it its power.  They rather speak of an immature state, desperately clawing to hang on.  In terms of succession of power, the whole thing seems to resemble the Mafia selecting a new head of the family, seeing as the previous Don had been gunned down while visiting the barber’s.  (A gold star goes to whoever gets that Mafia reference.)  Though I will grant that China has made some progress in having the man who actually controls the country be the president (it wasn’t the case during the Deng years), heaven only knows what will happen when Hu Jintao’s two terms expire.  (There are actually term limits now.  Rather than serving for life, as Chairman Mao and Deng Xiaoping did, Jiang Zemin graciously stepped down at the end of his term, though not without reliniquishing control over the military until he was sure that Hu was up to the job.)  Hu has broadly hinted about the possibility of inter-party democracy, that is letting the Commuist Party members actually pick their own leaders, but no one is sure whether that will happen.


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