Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Beijing Olympics, China’s Injustices, and Something More

In approximately 3 days (2 if you’re already in the area) the world will look to China. The Olympics will begin, then only God knows what will happen next. I am happy and excited (woohoo Olympic competition), but I am extremely saddened and deeply angry at the same time. China was once dubbed the “sick man of Asia.” Now they will be the world’s next super-power.

The slogan of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is 同一个世界同一个梦想 or “One World, One Dream.” What dream is that? Who’s dream is that? Does this dream include the millions of people displaced from their home because of development and illegal land seizure? Does it include the millions of migrant workers who are forced to go to bigger cities to find work so they can meagerly support their family? Does the dream include the millions of farmers who have had their water source/farmland polluted until it has become useless?

Here’s a hypothetical situation: You live in a major city China, on the outskirts of it’s downtown core. One day, you’re told that your home (along with your neighbour’s surrounding homes) are all being demolished so that some developer can make some high rise condos that you’ll never be able to afford living in. Then without having any place to go, without having time to pack up, without even consenting to all of this happening, it happens. Your house is demolished in front of you. You only have time to grab the possessions you are able to carry. You now have no more home and what you did have was destroyed. You aren’t even given decent compensation (or in some cases, none at all). It is despicable and heartbreaking. For example, this wasn’t done by a tornado, that is beyond anyone’s control. Your home was forcibly taken away by other people who chose to do it.

[EDIT-April 8,2009: Check out this video called "Demolition Dissidents" by Journeyman Pictures. This is almost the exact news story by CBC correspondent Patrick Brown which I saw around this time when I first wrote this post (therefore, the date on the YouTube link says March 2009, but that is very incorrect (its pre-Olympics) as the CCTV building is unfinished)]

What now? If not for your close family and perhaps some friends, you would starve. But they can’t feed and house you forever. Maybe if you appealed to a government official or if you went to court to fight for at the very least, fair compensation so that you can try to find a new home. But the officials don’t want to talk to you. The police ignore you or and silence you by beating you if you try to protest in public about the injustice done against you. The judge won’t bother to hear your case, because it turns out, he’s the owner of the demolition company that wiped out your neighbourhood.

What is left? You have been taught your whole life to trust the government. Trust the Communist Party, but now they won’t even help you. No one else will help you either because your cries of help are drowned out by the ringing cash registers and the construction boom.

What’s sad about this situation is that it is real (you probably already knew, the "hypothetical" was me trying to be polite - [EDIT August 17,2008: In the mini-doc "Car Craze" by Journeyman Pictures, fast forward to the 11:08 mark onwards to get a glimpse of a similar situation]). In some cases, even worse things have happened. What’s even sadder about this situation is that people who have been given power who may have influence to help these victims, will refuse to help and deny that there are any problems. They will deny and say no one has complaints about the government and no one has been wronged. Regular citizens will do the same because they don’t know anything.

Ai Weiwei (艾未未) helps describe it well:
China, on one hand you have a dictatorship, you have a totalitarian
society. We still don't have the rights to elect our own government and they make stupid decisions you see everyday [...] On the other hand you have a big crowd of nationalism, young kids who know nothing because [of] limited information and because [of] the misleading of the [state-controlled] media. So these two combinations make the situation even worse.
(This is from the mini-doc “China's Foul Play” by Journeyman Pictures, 19:53 into the video)

What breaks my heart about situations like this is that it is the result of ignorant, selfish choices. One may ask, “Isn’t is the fault of the Communist Party?” Isn’t it the fault of those red, evil commie [insert noun]? As much as I want to say yes, they are not the true problem. However, I personally believe they will be held responsible and accountable for their suppression of the truth from their own citizens because in doing so, they have caused their own people to sin (Mark 9:42).

The problem is best stated: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV)

It’s because of greed that’s causing people to seek after power and wealth for their own benefit. It’s because of the god of this age who has blinded millions (billions worldwide) from what is true and what is perfect (2 Cor. 4:4; Phil. 4:8). It’s because of their sin that is separating them from knowing God and it burdens my heart so much that people in China don’t have the same free access as I currently have, to know the Truth. If not a few different choices by my ancestors, it might be me, still in China and blinded.

Because the Olympics are so close and so prominent, news reports every single day, from every single type of media, barrage my mind and I come to know all these things. So much grief, suffering, and loss. I want to do something, anything, but I am limited in my circumstances. Until God give me greater responsibility, I can only give what little of myself, and what little from myself. And despite the pictures of cruelty and cries of hurt (or what little there is after it’s been censored) I can take joy in God’s eternal Word that, “while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).

Dear China, open your eyes quickly. Open your hearts. Don’t be distracted. Look up to the heavens and see the glory of God.

Sigh. I’ll stop here for now. But there’s still so much to say. It’s not just a matter of human rights, but of human hearts.

North Korea, you’ll get your turn too.


Anonymous said...

Tldnr ;)

And who cares about Beijing 2008, anyways? The real excitement on that day is my thesis defense.

Johnson said...

well, unlike Paulman, i actually read the whole thing (but i don't know if his 'tldnr' was a joke or not)

hmm olympics.. kinda exciting. i also wonder what will happen after it's over. like.. will people in beijing prefer the olympic days where half the cars are off the road, etc. etc.

Johnson said...

Also, I would like to add that I am a big silly person. Or rather, I am logged on to the big silly person's computer.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I finally actually read your post. Wow, my comment was quite inappropriate :P

I saw the same CBC News report that you were describing. I was watching it with Johnson, too, actually. Maybe you should ask him what he thinks about this whole situation with China's "human rights"... situation.

Tim said...

hehehe you so funny paulman...

anyways, that CBC report is(/was) just the latest thing i've seen(/saw) that got my insides all riled up. theres just so many people. its painful.