Thursday, 9 August 2007

The Beijing Olympics and Glimmers of Hope

The Guardian's Jonathan Watts has once again produced some excellent articles related to the Beijing Games. Ai Wei Wei, son of Ai Qin, one of the greatest modern poets in China who was "purged" during the anti-Rightist campaign of the 1950s has made some outstanding comments. This is a gem:

"If you read newspapers today you see the problems created by this structure and by the effort to maintain power. It is against everything that human society should be fighting for. I am just a normal person, but happily I have become a notable person. That means something to me only because it gives me a better chance to fight".

The Beijing Olympics is a real mixed bag in terms of it's impact. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the way in which people living in the Hutong districts have been treated and their homes demolished with little compensation if any.


Simon said...

Interesting. I was staying in Beijing at the end of my honeymoon, on a wide street of hotels that was a hutong in name only. It was suggested by our friens there that this was the name of one of the alleyways that had been bulldozed to create it.

We were round the corner from WangFuJing Dajie, as commercial a shopping street as you would ever find in London, or Tokyo.

We were struck by how much of our map was inaccurate, wide streets have sprung from nowhere, or as at the south end of Tiananmen square, were in the middle of being created.

And building work was going on everywhere, it's like London is today.

Toby Philpott said...

Beijing has changed very rapidly. I have a good friend who lives in China and several years ago we were looking for a restaurant that he used to visit regularly. Needless to say that it had gone, and with it all the other shops on that street. The road had been widened.

It was a similar situation in Nanchang where I lived and worked for nearly three years. Shops and restuarants would be bulldozed and new streets built, followed by new shops and restaurants.