This is our response to a story of a recent Chinese Olympic Torchbearer in London named Bai Jian, which has been translated by the Australian “China Hand” Geremie Barme (pronounced “Barmy”) and published in the China Digital Times.
Our first observation is that the first 20 (twenty) paragraphs of Bai Jian’s essay are entirely about his personal story of financial difficulties, absolutely irrelevant to any reasons to protest against the Olympic Torch relay. His implied message seems to be that the main purpose of the Olympic Torch and all that it represents is to raise Chinese individuals like himself out of poverty. That’s rubbish. China’s Olympic Torch – whatever it symbolizes and promotes – certainly does not promote charity or compassion, let alone any rule of law in which real prosperity can be cultivated and endure.
Thus, Bai Jian’s implied appeal to the ethos of charity among the Western cultures which the Torch is visiting, is a distraction, an irrelevancy and a dishonest attempt by China’s Central Propaganda Department (who control everything Bai Jian tells to Western audiences) to appeal to European and American ethos of compassion and charity which are not shared by the Chinese Communist Party, who to this day remain avowed Leninists who abjure and contemn any beliefs in charity or compassion.
Second: Bai Jian, even if you take his story at face value, is not poor!. He writes, “At the moment our household income consists of the 2000 yuan that I get in wages as well as a variable1000-2000 yuan”. In today’s China, that’s a comfortable middle class household income, placing him near the top of China’s social pyramid. This is not to mention that we do not – and due to China’s closed society and strictly controlled propaganda machine, we cannot – know what other kinds of income or support (including non-monetary) he might have enjoyed over the years.
Third: So now if we scroll all the way down to paragraph 28 (sorry if I miscounted by one or two), we can hear the voice of China’s Central Propaganda Department and its bloody Orwellian “Newspeak” corruption of language, when he writes:
I won. I got the largest number of votes in my group, both from the people in the audience, and the viewers at home. And so I became one of the ten Chinese Olympic torchbearers who would travel overseas. I was going to London.
Democracy is a good thing—that’s what I learnt from competing in the Olympic torch relay competition. If everyone is on an equal footing, it doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you are free to tell the people who you are, and they can vote for you at each stage. I am really grateful that such a model exists in the world; only in this kind of system would someone like me make it.
What BLOODY disingenuous lies! The implied message is, “the ‘vote’ which enabled Bai Jian to become a Torch-bearer, is one of China’s little experiments in democracy! Therefore, the Olympic Torch is assisting China to learn the ways of ‘democracy’.”
No. That’s disingenuous, toxic rubbish, beneath contempt. And the operative phrase in Bai Jian’s rubbish is, “if everyone is on an equal footing.” No, Bai Jian, YOUR way of “being on an equal footing” when you competed for the privilege of carrying the Torch, has nothing to do with political democracy, or with any kind of authentic civil liberty, without which any “democracy” is a fraud. (And this is not to mention other unanswered questions, like, “Did Bai Jian have any personal connections of any kind, which gave him special advantages in the competition?” Knowing China as well as Catherine and I do, she and I are almost 100 percent certain that Bai Jian became a Torch-bearer for reasons other than “democracy”. Although we cannot prove that Bai Jian has personal political connections, we do know how power is distributed in China, and pigs will fly before the PRC gives any such privilege to anyone who does not have some personal political and/or financial connections.)
No, Bai Jian, your carrying the Olympic Torch in London had absolutely nothing to do with the advancement of democracy – or even more importantly, of civil liberty – in China. And your suggestions of your (very doubtful) poverty are also irrelevant to the current worldwide hostility to China’s Torch.
If – hypothetically – if China had chosen as a Torch-bearer, a great athlete whose parents’ house had been stolen by local Party members to build a useless shopping mall – or if China had chosen a devout Muslim Uighur and permitted him to recite from the Holy Koran during the Torch Relay – or a Chinese Roman Catholic who would be permitted to say, in public, a rosary for the Torch-bearers and to dedicate his prayer to the late Cardinal Kung (a Roman Catholic prisoner of conscience in China) – then one could argue that the Olympic Torch really would be a sign of developing liberty and basic decency in China.
But this story by Bai Jian does not qualify to do any such thing. But to be fair, I will proffer a challenge to Bai Jian and to all Olympic Torch-bearers: I, and I believe much of the civilized world, will regard the Olympic Torch as an authentic symbol of China’s developing liberties, if China assents to bringing the Torch (in, say, San Fransisco and Canberra?) to:
- A Roman Catholic Church, in which Roman Catholic Prayers will be said to bless the Torch-bearers;
- An independent Protestant Church, in which prayers will be said (I would suggest an evangelical Baptist Church);
- A Sunni Mosque
- A Tibetan Buddhist Temple with a picture of the Dalai Lama in view.
Unless and until China assents to conditions such as those – conditions quite acceptable in any decent, civilised country – Bai Jian’s maudlin, saccharine, shamelessly propagandistic and dishonest story about himself being a Torch-bearer, and his implied message of how the Torch is a vehicle for greater liberty in China, will remain as worthless as…well as worthless as a copy of China Daily, fit only for toilet paper, very coarse toilet paper.