Olympic Games, or Mobilization for War?

Olympic Games, or Mobilization for War?
Paramilitary police officers attend a public emergency drill aimed at beefing up security services ahead of the Beijing Olympics. (China Photos/Getty Images)

On May 5, Tian Yixiang, the director of the military bureau’s security command center for the Beijing Olympic Games, told a reporter from the military channel of Xinhua News Net that the main threat to security of the Olympic Games are “domestic forces against China, including the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, the Tibetan Independent Movement, and Falun Gong. These groups regard the Olympics as an opportunity to interfere and create damage.”

With less than 100 days to go before the opening ceremonies in August, China’s regime-controlled media has been amping up the publicizing of Tian’s speeches. According to him, the Chinese government has mobilized army, marine and air militia from four military regions. Military airplanes, helicopters, ships, ground-to-air missiles, radar systems and anti-chemical weaponry have all been engaged. Since 2005, the military has been testing its surveillance systems and conducting Olympics-specific training and drills in preparation for the upcoming Games.

Many Chinese citizens have been critical and skeptical of the regime’s broad deployment of the military for the Olympic Games.

When interviewed, Mr. Liu, who resides near the main stadium for the Olympic Games, said, “Why has every Olympic Games been treated like a war? Are they hosting a sports event or starting a war? I really don’t understand why the navy has to be involved, and why they need to practice drills in remote seas. Are terrorists coming to Beijing via aircraft carrier?”

He continued with a sigh, “The atmosphere is so tense now, and the Games haven’t even begun. It makes us common folk feel unsafe. I don’t think the Olympics has been done like this in the past (in other countries), and neither will it be done like this in the future.”

A worker from Tianjin said, “[The regime] is truly sparing no costs. I am sure they won’t even make much money from the Games. We common people want food, housing, and to survive, not the Olympic Games. What’s the significance of the Games? We have worked all our lives and only make a few hundred dollars a month from our pensions. Inflation is steep, and I have a whole family to feed. How can we survive? Some people say supporting the Olympic Games is showing patriotism. What do we have to show, for our patriotism?”

A person from Shenzhen remarked, “Inflation, unemployment, and stock market losses are all serious. The burden of debt is so heavy. What can the Olympic Games bring to the common people? Isn’t it just a torch? The torch relay has no meaning, and is a pure waste of money and time.”

The person went on, saying, “The government is too vain. They really don’t spend money wisely. If they used the money on health insurance, more Chinese people will be able to see a doctor, and fewer would have to die, while their family members must watch helplessly. The government will have to pay for its vanity, at some point.”

A migrant worker from Anhui Province commented, “It has to be a world record that the Olympic Games has brought in troops from four different military regions. The government can’t even take care of daily things, let alone defend the Olympics. There are so many thieves and robbers in the streets. How many of the crimes are ever solved? I myself was robbed today. I felt helpless and totally unsafe.”

A person from Beijing said, “I think the Beijing Olympics will incur a financial loss. The expense of using the military, public security officers, police, as well as all levels of public or private guards, will add up to a huge sum. The whole population has been involved in defending the Olympic Games, as though a civil war was about to break out. Is the Olympic Games a sports event or a war? Why are TV and radio trying to spread propaganda about ‘waging well this defensive battle for the Olympics’? I think the Chinese government is treating everything as its enemy. They are not providing security. They are initiating a war.”