Archive for Monday, August 11, 2008

False promises

China made glowing promises to get approval for hosting the Olympic Games and has not measured up on many counts.

August 11, 2008


Four United States cyclists wore face masks last week as they arrived at an airport to take part in the Olympic Games, now under way in Beijing, China. A Portuguese cyclist has withdrawn from the competition for fear of damaging his health because of the heavy air and water pollution in the region. Others in a variety of sports are considering doing likewise.

The four Americans later apologized, probably under pressure, to Chinese officials for their masked entry into the Olympic region, but they should not have. Whether they wore the facial covers to demonstrate their concern about the conditions in the Chinese capital or did so out of genuine fear for their health is not the issue here.

The major collective villain is the Chinese government, Chinese Olympic leaders and all their aides for not measuring up to the many promises they made when they were awarded the 2008 Games. At the time of the announcement that Beijing would host the 2008 spectacle, there was one layer of promises after another about how the vast nation would work toward improving human rights for its citizens, providing gleaming facilities and making sure that the air, water and food offered to international athletes and officials would be pure and healthful.

Along with the oppressive air conditions that refuse to go away despite a wide range of special actions by China, the human rights situation among 1.3 billion people has been a disgrace. The trouble over Tibet and its independence is the latest key focal point. The government insists it has made outstanding progress in this field and will continue that process. Those close to the scene, with years of experience in the region, almost laugh as they respond.

Olympians with respiratory problems, such as asthma, are quite fearful of what will happen to them as they work out and compete in the smoggy, stifling Beijing atmosphere. The water consumed by visitors will be monitored carefully. Some water sources are considered primitive and laden with bacteria. Can that water be adequately treated to reduce the risk to visitors?

Elizabeth Economy, who meets frequently with Chinese environmental officials, said orders about pollution usually lose their impact by the time they reach local officials.

"They are endemically corrupt. Collusion among local governments and factory managers is the norm," she said. "Half the money invested in environmental protection research is diverted to other things unrelated to environmental protection."

Steven Andrews, a Washington-based environmental consultant, said that after a review of Beijing's preparations for cleaning the air during the Olympics, the Chinese simply relocated air monitoring stations to achieve cleaner results.

The Chinese deny that, of course.

But they cannot deny that they went on record so enthusiastically and cheerfully about all the major actions they would take to justify their hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games and have failed miserably to measure up to their promises.

It amounted to a massive con job that now has a lot of chickens coming home to roost for this would-be world power.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 10 months ago

What's your point, Brent? Does Chinese intransigence in reducing pollution somehow excuse the US for its intransigence, especially that of BushCo?

jonas 9 years, 10 months ago

But anyway, you can see some of it here. on how you stack your numbers, but we're pretty high on whatever standard you care to use, and if you go per capita we're always number one or number 2, except for pollution expenditure per unit of GDP, where we're ahead of most 3rd world and developing countries and behind most of the developed nations. We're also middle of the road in terms of percentage change, where of course China is way higher. Old data, of course, and I did find an article recently where it was said China has passed us on total CO2 emission, so I guess in the end it's just a question of whether it matters that they have over four times our population or not.

jonas 9 years, 10 months ago

That's because it's not even 7 in the morning.

kansas778 9 years, 10 months ago

logicsound04 (Anonymous) says: 1) Being environmentally aware is not "fascist". Only an idiot would use the word in that manner.*****It would seem to me that being labeled a fascist has more to do with one's actions than one's "awareness."

bondmen 9 years, 10 months ago

Thank you LJWorld for not buying the publicity hype and political correctness designed to make this a Chinese Potemkin Village.Today we learned the Beijing Olympic 2008 opening ceremony giant firework footprints were 'faked': additional good reporting more revelations of the fake socialist/communist face will make it to the people. Hollywierd no longer has a monopoly!

justthefacts 9 years, 10 months ago

It has been argued (among scientists) that nature itself is the main cause of the most serious levels of pollution (see,M1 and for discussions; there's lots more out there). Some people who study this issue will admit that one large volcanic erruption can do more damage to air quality etc. then all the vehicle and other human caused events, from the time man first appeared on earth until present day. So do we ban nature?In addition, China is catching up with the US (or surpassing it some would say) when it comes to being an industrialized nation. If we were to look back at the amount of "bad things" being done in the US when we first began to emerge as an industrialized nation, it might persuade us to be less impressed with ourselves and the righteousness with which we view countries who are now trying to catch up with us in terms of being "modern."That said, I was in Romania in 1974 and can attest to how awful it can be to be breathing YELLOW air. Even for a short while! What ever its cause, leaders who do not do what ever they can to improve the air breathed by the inhabitants of their country (and visitors) are not destined to stay in power forever. Decent air quality sooner or later becomes an issue.

jonas 9 years, 10 months ago

bondman: Read your own links."The fireworks were there for real, outside the stadium. But those responsible for filming the extravaganza decided in advance it would be impossible to capture all 29 footprints from the air.As a result, only the last, visible from the camera stands inside the Bird's Nest was captured on film."

KawMK 9 years, 10 months ago

I found this editorial piece not only overly critical but extremely presumptuous. It is true that Beijing's air quality has ample space for improvement, but the American media have been talking about this issue nonstop since the beginning of their Olympic coverage. And I wonder what actual function does this extra piece of criticism in LJW accomplish? I lived in Los Angeles for many years and the smog there was probably as bad as that in China. Pollution is a worldwide phenomenon associated with capitalist development and should not be viewed only as the fault or responsibility of a single nation state or its people. Instead of accusing the Chinese for playing the "con-game," the LJW can better serve its reader by exploring where the pollution actually comes from. Since the late 70s, in pursuing cheap labor and lowering the production cost, U.S. companies have exported the most polluting industries such as textile to other countries, first to Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, and now to China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The U.S. economy has profited handsomely from polluting other countries. The hidden cost of the cheap price we pay in Wal-Mart and Target is the air quality and health of people living in places like Beijing, Jakarta, and Mexicali. It is morally degenerative for Americans to continue their habits of over consumption while labeling other countries as playing the "con-game." Yes, the U.S. four cyclists had every right to wear their masks upon arriving Terminal 3 in Beijing Airport (which is air-conditioned). But their gesture certainly reconfirmed the arrogant images of the American Exceptionalism. Pollution has always been and will continue to be a global issue, requiring efforts and cooperation from everyone living on this planet. The editorial staff at LJW (& American journalists in general) would probably be better global citizens and do more for Americans and the world if they examine their own presumptuous orientalist gaze before they write an article like this.

bd 9 years, 10 months ago

stillcoolandhere (Anonymous) says: Why is Kansas so backwards???California seems to be in the modern world::why can't Kansas??????Its called quality of life!!!If its soo bad, why are still here????

oldvet 9 years, 10 months ago

"China needs an "Al Gore" to get the green ball rolling."We could send them our Al Gore, but that would probably be considered an act of war...

bondmen 9 years, 10 months ago

We'll say it again in case you missed it Jonas, they faked the footprints for a TV audience!China walled off many shanty towns and slums to visitors - this too is part of the Potemkin village. NYTimes reported "Before Guests Arrive, Beijing Hides Some Messes"

Brent Garner 9 years, 10 months ago

OK. So where are all the Fascist Greens who so enthusiastically paint the US as the major planetary polluter? I am waiting and listening but the silence is deafening!

jonas 9 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, Bondman, that's the first time that you've said that. And it looks like you've finally found a legitimate complaint, too. Good. I myself would have probably started with the draconian and unsustainable methods they've taken to drop their pollution index to where it is now, but that works too. Screaming about faking fireworks just makes you sound silly.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 10 months ago

We sure messed up our air to become an "industrialized nation" along time ago, and we should not wag fingers for countries doing the same thing we did to become "modern".And as far as human rights, we did/do lock up people in secret prisons around the world. So we are not perfect either.

beatrice 9 years, 10 months ago

oldvet: "We could send them our Al Gore, but that would probably be considered an act of war:"That is funny. However, Tom is actually correct in that someone within the Communist Regime needs to take up the cause in a mighty way, to be the Chinese Al Gore. Is that possible? Unlikely, and unfortunately.sjr, science shows us quite a bit more about the dangers caused from industrialization than were known in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and to just stand back and not say anything would not be in the best interest of any of us in the long run. We must speak up. Brent, are you somehow saying that America isn't a major planetary polluter? What planet are you imagining? We are even the major polluter on Mars, for crying out loud.And why does Dolph imagine that the apologies from the cyclists were made "probably under presure"? Either you know, or you don't. When enough facts are available on the damages to the environment caused in major Chinese cities, why throw in this speculation? It only weakens the argument.

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