Monday, June 27, 2011

Revisionist Chinese History in Tiananmen Square + King of The Forbidden City and The Beijing "Silk Market"

Tiananmen Square.
Our guide gives us a history lesson: it was where, in Tiananmen Square where Chairman Mao declared China to be the People’s Republic of China, it’s the largest public square in the world, and still today a place where many important ceremonies are held. Curiously absent from the memorized lecture was the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.
For all I knew, pre-internet, the Chinese government might have been able to suppress the information to many of the Chinese people.
“Do you know what happened here in 1989?” I asked.
Our guide nods.
“What?” I followed up.
“Many students demonstrated here. The government warned them repeatedly. They did not listen, and it was a conspiracy by outside agitators, and so the government had to (she stressed this) do something about it. Many of those who survived fled the country, they are traitors. The government acted rightly and justly.”

Tiananmen Square- Mao Tse Tung in background photo
Interesting. Interesting how governments manage to justify to their people their horrendous actions. Control the interpretation of events, and you can control peoples’ minds and beliefs. The government sent the tanks in to Tianenman to crush any open opposition, before it was able to spread, then labeled the student demonstrators as traitors and pawns of evil outside agitators.
If you think the Bush administration invaded Iraq to “install democracy in the Mideast, liberate an oppressed people, and protect us from Al Queda,” rather than oil and doling out giant no bid rebuilding contracts to cronies at Halliburton and Bechtel, then might I suggest getting the Chinese Communist Party "Official Book of Revisionist History" for bedtime reading- it will make you feel all warm and cozy.
If you are an American, you can just listen to Fox News.

My Day in Beijing

I only got to spend one full day in Beijing, and we started early. First we visited the Forbidden City, where Emperor of China lived with the Empress, his 3,000 concubines, and his eunuchs. It is rather difficult to discuss what exactly eunuchs are, but I’ll just say that while they are technically men, the Emperor was the only breeding male in the city. The joke here would normally be- “It’s good to be King,” but I’m still a little upset about the eunuchs.
The Forbidden City
Why was it called the Forbidden City? Because no one but those described above were permitted entry. Not a single tree grows in the city both to intimate visitors, and so assassins weren’t granted cover. There are 9,999 ½ rooms in the Forbidden City. The Chinese consider the number ten, to be pure perfection- the divine. Nine- near divine, the Emperor’s number.
Next, we visited the Summer Palace. An ornately decorated venue that served as summer residence for the Emperor and Empress, that was not unlike the Forbidden City, except it had trees.

Sir Andrew Stern and me, last day in China for me
Next up, the “Silk Market,” which has to be the largest fake market in the world. Floors and floors stuffed with fake Fendi bags, Armani suits, Ralph Lauren shirts, Versace belts, etc etc. China recently entered into the World Trade Organization and promised to protect intellectual property rights. The fact that so many stores exist out in the open as they do, does not exactly lend the Chinese government any credibility. Why does the government, which so forcefully crushed the student demonstrators because they “had to,” allow such a large fake market to exist? One reason: it makes them money!!
Don’t trust the Chinese. Remember I told you about the law, “Turismo Jackola,” it is even worse here in Beijing. I mean, I started talking with an early twenties female merchant about a belt. She showed me how to distinguish between real and fake leather (pass a flame over it for several seconds and see if melts or curls) I asked her questions about China, about entrepreneurship here, I told her she was pretty, then I asked her how much for the belt.

“Because I like you, because you are handsome, and because I want to make a sale,” she replied, “$300 for the belt.” Tourismo Jackola. Have fun in China ye hardy souls! And if you are on the streets of Beijing, feel free to try the centipede!
Centipede- mmm scrumptious! 

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