Olympics as PR: Here’s the New, Modern China

Henry Sanderson reports for the Associated Press:

… the modern image that China is showcasing to the world during its turn in the white-hot Olympic spotlight may be nice to look at, but the Communist Party remains firmly in control.

The multi-layered Chinese public relations blitz has helped lure tourists leary of a country often portrayed as polluted and repressive, and has given a boost to Chinese who have rallied behind the games, experts on China and public relations said.

At the same time, the nation’s leadership has barely budged from its policies.

It largely ignored criticism of its human rights record and continued its repression of free speech. Its harsh rule in Tibet has been downplayed, political dissidents locked up, beggars pushed out of Beijing and journalists covering protests roughed-up. It did not grant a protest permit.

“I think (the) China government has done a very good job of presenting a positive image overseas, but in doing so it didn’t change much of its behavior to do that,” said Russell Leigh Moses, an analyst of Chinese politics based in Beijing.

While the Communist Party leaders will have received a warm boost from their people for staging a successful games, the real test will come afterwards when they have to deal with the myriad problems China faces, Moses said.