China staged a logistically smart Olympics with very few mechanical flaws, which is no small feat in the pandemic era. He achieved this primarily by creating what he called, in the inimitable style of the Chinese government, a “closed-loop system” – the now famous Olympic “bubble” designed to lock in anyone affiliated with the Olympics and, just as important, prevent them from infecting the rest of the country.
For these Games, the government made sure to put the beautiful China in bankruptcy. Everything about the tour was adorable, led by enthusiastic young volunteers, played by a cheerful big panda mascot named Bing Dwen Dwen. The serious men and women in flame retardant suits were friendly, at least as far as could be seen under the masks and goggles and full plastic.
Even the relatively few police officers encountered inside the bubble were, by Chinese law enforcement standards, downright talkative. the soul of the 2022 Olympics – a global moment that should at best spill over from both. And here’s what it did too: it created some practical side effects that certainly didn’t displease the Chinese authorities. First, a little background.For decades, the Communist Party and the country’s government have devised a multi-pronged system to prevent visitors from seeing – and reporting – what is really going on in a surprisingly multifaceted nation that is China.
From the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to Beijing in particular, those who try to peek behind the scenes, be they journalists, activists or sometimes just tourists curious, are often blocked, pushed back or redirected to more innocuous places and activities. Today, international journalists living and working in China – if they are not among those expelled – struggle to break through the official narrative and must create innovative routes to access the most controversial stories.
For many years, “foreign affairs offices” in several Chinese cities, ostensibly designed to make things easier for visitors, have in many cases actually become official obstacles. Many foreigners trying to travel alone to one or more places that the central government considers restless, especially the western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, may be canceled. And the Chinese journalists? In a society where propaganda is positioned as patriotic rather than repugnant, they face dangers and pressures that would be hard to imagine for anyone raised in a democracy.