Joshua Kurlantzick on The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games: Not All of China is Cheering

For the National Post, Joshua Kurlantzick looks at how rural citizens are viewing the Olympics:

Not surprisingly, for many of these rural dwellers the Games might be an interesting distraction on TV, rather than a source of major pride. “It is something that only the people in cities around Beijing care about,” one young Chinese in a rural town told Rian Dundon, a photographer who studies youth culture in China’s interior. “People from Hunan [an interior province] and other far away places don’t really feel very excited about it, and I don’t feel a personal connection to it.” Indeed, Dundon found that young people in the interior were angry that whatever positive impact the Games had would be limited to the cities. “The Olympics can only affect a very small part China. The rest will be left behind,” another young rural Chinese told him.

It is telling that when recent polls have been done of Chinese satisfaction with their current life, the samples almost never include rural people. Rural Chinese women have one of the highest suicide rates in the world, while other polls of rural areas show high rates of anger at the high taxes and fees levied on rural people, essentially so that local officials can gorge themselves. “We don’t see the point of these Games,” one peasants’ activist told me last year, just after the police had thrown her out of her temporary house for the umpteenth time to stop her from protesting more. “We thought it might be good, but it doesn’t help us.”

August 19, 2008 11:18 AM
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