Beijing was prepared. The streets exploded in red and yellow,
music and fireworks filled the air, Jiang and company made an appearance
the city reveled in the glory it feels it so richly deserves.
In Chongqing, a collective squeak of joy filled the bar as
the girls surrounding the TV informed the rest of us in the room
that the inevitable had transpired and we could stop worrying about
the restaurant ending up in flames if Toronto stole the show.
The fellows who run the Old Montreal are from Toronto
the New York of Canada, with the ignorant mayor and they
couldn't have cared less about the outcome. The girls from the bar
went with some of the waiters and cooks and the real boss of the
place Big Mike, a native of Chengdu, Sichuan Province
and celebrated by eating hot pot.
Chongqingese eat hot pot every night. Big Mike and his crew
aren't as excited about the Olympics as the Chinese media would
have you believe. Beijing was not the only city to celebrate in
a country that was supposedly feverishly awaiting the decision by
the IOC. Fireworks in Chengdu, Tianjin and Shanghai lit the night
and people cried and hugged each other.
"As a Chinese, I should be happy," says Zuo Li, my good friend.
"And we are happy about the money it will bring in."
And that's really what its all about.
PIECE OF THE PIE
Mike is thinking
about switching the location of his new restaurant to Beijing instead
of his hometown of Chengdu. In my previous column, I briefly described
Chengdu and the burgeoning expat scene and the environment being
built by, for and around them so a restaurant here, in the
"unexplored West" might be a good idea. But now the vision of thousands
of foreigners descending on Beijing in a few years and the improvements
that are being made to the city's infrastructure and environment
are a strong lure for businessmen around the country.
Everybody can get a piece of the pie: construction companies,
English majors, advertising gurus, net bars, Western-style restaurants,
sports outlets, roadside food stands, shoe shiners, clubs ...
"Even the prostitutes are excited," said Mike.
Perhaps the rest of China can also enjoy Beijing's success.
Or perhaps not.
Athletes will be too busy to make a trip to, say, Henan Province,
or anywhere outside of the five rings surrounding the city. And
travel into and out of the city will be strictly regulated to keep
out trouble makers like the vicious Falun Gong and their ilk.
The China that now struggles to find investment for construction
and customers for restaurants and jobs for lolling peasants will
not benefit a wink from the Olympics. The people who have the skills
needed by the foreigners and the city are all headed to Beijing
now. Futures have been planned according to the IOC vote
freshman English majors and aspiring pimps/club owners from all
over China were watching the vote with more in mind than the glory
of the nation.
But the riches of the East will "trickle down" into the coffers
of the West and the international attention will bring investment,
or so the argument goes. I wonder if Chinese trickle down economics
will differ at all from Reaganomics. If not, the poor of China can
expect the current income gap to grow even larger.
NET BARS AND BROTHELS
Some more interesting
The People's Daily reported extraordinary success (123,000
closed) in their campaign to shut down "illegal net bars." The campaign
is part of the Strike Hard program to eradicate corruption, drugs
and other insidious behavior.
Incidentally, the program has bagged a reported 1,800 corpses
The net bars are being punished and closed down for not having
licenses, or for having the wrong licenses. A certain license is
needed for Internet usage and different one for games. Some of the
bars I frequent don't have Internet access in the afternoon, and
some don't have it at night but I don't know where the illegal
And, trust me, I've looked. Last week I was in the ghettoest
net bar in Chongqing. Located on the third floor above an empty,
filthy second floor and a China Construction Bank on the first floor
this place looks like a secret night club for gangstaz and
The first door I walked by was a movie theater with sticky
floors and hot porn. The door on my left opened into a room of slot
machines illegal, supposedly.
And then I reached the computer room. Most seats were filled
with little boys killing each other in a variety of games. If not
that, then girls OICQ-ing (chatting) which is the rave in China.
I sat down and began to write my article. I was sweating in the
heat and my Turkish hormones soon dispelled the crowd gathered to
watch me type.
Now, if this Strike Hard program is meant to root out crime
and illegal establishments, why are the streets lit up pink every
night? Pretty girls lounge in the heat and "wash your hair" for
a small fee up and down the streets of Chongqing and every other
city in China.
suppose, if a net bar has no license, but has porno, it gets let
off; I saw a raucous crowd of policeman swagger out of a pink room
the other night with cries of petulant dismay at their leaving following
them out to their van.