China has a problem. Not an issue, a problem. The Chinese wanted more than anything else to win the competition to host the 2008 Olympics -- and they did.
In the summer the wind comes off the Gobi Desert and brings heavy lashes of rain down upon Beijing. For this the people are usually quite happy, for it sweetens the air that is otherwise densely polluted with dust and the exhaust of a massive number of cars and trucks. This combines with the dense smoke of the coal-fired factories on the outskirts. In that environmental mess the Chinese government plans to hold their first Olympic Games.
With a display of confident totalitarian thinking typical of Chinese communism, the Chinese have announced they intend to control the skies above Beijing by rocketing silver iodate into the clouds, thus producing days of glorious sunshine. This is particularly important for the new immense and beautiful latticed concrete stadium has no retractable roof, in fact no roof at all.
Pollution will be contained citywide by the banning of all but essential vehicles. The outlying factories will be closed down. The ordinary citizenry will be of no consequence during the games, for they will be banned from mixing with the influx of foreigners.
It is unclear whether the authorities are afraid to expose their people to the material advantages of the visitors or they don't want any Chinese shortcomings to become evident to the foreigners.
ACCORDING TO BEIJING, the trouble in Tibet -- those nasty monks with their riotous ways -- has all been designed by anti-Chinese forces to embarrass China.
Behind it is, of course, that deadly conniver, the Dalai Lama, who covertly operates to encourage dissidence and revolt among the peaceful Tibetans who otherwise love their Han Chinese occupiers.
All this Tibetan nonsense, again according to the official Chinese spokesman (actually a chic uniformed, hard-faced woman from the Public Security Ministry), has been timed to coincide with the run-up to the games. That Nicolas Sarkozy , the French president, may have his country boycott the opening ceremonies is characterized off-the-record by the Chinese as an example of just that Dalai Lama-type plotting.
It is uncontestable that China's 1.3 billion people are struggling mightily to lift themselves from historical poverty and underdevelopment. Nor does anyone question the justified desire for international recognition of a country that has so successfully introduced a burgeoning market economy into what had been a moribund socialist system.
But therein lies the problem. The residual totalitarian instincts of Mao's communism rise up whenever gratification of the leaders' desires is not immediate.
The resulting conflict has to be explained away or simply denied by Beijing bureaucrats. The Olympic Games has created just that situation. The Chinese government has taken on more than it can handle. Aside from the massive pseudo-scientific climate control issue, the security paranoia of Chinese leadership has them envisaging nefarious plots by Western governments to exploit the Olympic presence to influence the ordinary man in the Chinese street.
Answer: Keep the Chinese people off the streets and far away from the infectious presence of international sports fans.
To accomplish the task of separating the "foreign devils" from the innocent masses thousands of police and security forces will "protect" each of the communities from each other. The Olympic spirit will reign -- no matter what. If the politburo says it will reign, it will reign!
SO HERE'S THE PICTURE: The heat, humidity and rain of the summer will be countered by Chinese scientific genius. The pollution for which Beijing is famous will be removed by fiat, as will the traffic jams of vehicles and pedestrians. The Tibetans will be clubbed into submission in their country in a timely fashion and the press will forget about them -- again.
If there is a basic fault in all this, it lies at the foot of the Olympic organizing committee that allowed itself to be bamboozled into agreeing to hold the games in Beijing in the first place.
In the same way that China is able to squash internal dissent, it muscled and manipulated its way through the Olympic committee's approval process. No matter the objection -- pollution, lack of infrastructure, bad summer climate -- the IOC looked the other way.
But the most egregious example of Olympic self-blindness was in the willingness to overlook Chinaâ€™s exploitation of its own people and those of a nation they had invaded and whose freedom they have repressed for decades. For this, if nothing else, the Olympic movement will be forever stained.