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12-08-08, 23:59
China's Perfection Obsession - John Pomfret

So am I the only one who is having trouble figuring out how a nation of 1.3 billion people can't find a little girl who can be adorable and sing well at the same time? I mean why China had to lip-synch "Ode to the Motherland" at the opening ceremony, using cute as a button 9-year-old Lin Miaoke as a front for the voice of still pretty cute Yang Peiyi is truly befuddling.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about it all is that this decision went all the way to the Standing Committee of the Politburo -- China's inner inner circle.

This is how Chen Qigang, the event's general manager justified the decision: "This is in the national interest. It is the image of our national music, national culture. Especially the entrance of our national flag; this is an extremely important, extremely serious matter."

You have to hand it to Chen for coming out with this news. Perhaps he opposed the lip-synching stunt. Also, he's protected somewhat from China's wrath. While he was born in China, he's a French citizen.

It brings home a point about China these days. Good looks are not only valued; they are a key to getting ahead in life, especially for women. Just read the want ads in any Chinese newspaper. Ads for secretaries routinely demand good looks and often good figures, down to exact measurements. For a while in the late 1990s, authorities in Hunan province used to examine the breasts of candidates for civil service jobs. Shuang ru dui cheng -- in other words "symmetrical breasts" -- was a condition of employment. Ads for male-dominated jobs routinely have height and weight requirements as well. Legislation to stop discrimination against the handicapped or the asymmetrical? Not happening.

China's obsession with looks has been probed by Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas, who has studied the relationship between beauty and pay -- something the Guardian noted in their piece on the two girls today.

Hamermesh, according to the Economist, first studied this phenomenon in the United States and Canada and showed that ugly people earn less than average incomes, while beautiful people earn more. In North America, the ugliness "tax" for men was -9% while the beauty bonus was +5%. For women, the ugliness tax was -6% while the beauty premium was +4%.But in China? Hamermesh found that that ugliness is penalised more in women, but beauty is more rewarded. The figures for men in one city, Shanghai, were -25% and +3%; for women they are -31% and +10%.

How do you say Milli Vanilli in Chinese?

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POSTED BY JOHN POMFRET ON AUGUST 12, 2008 5:25 PM

COMMENTS (66)
ANONYMOUS:
To Mike,

You forgot there are two most important fakes:

Chinese:)
and Commies:)

How dare these people:)

AUGUST 12, 2008 11:44 PM | REPORT OFFENSIVE COMMENTS

HUI:
There were tremendous pressure to the ceremony director from everyone in China and it's almost impossible to find the cutest face with sweetest voice on a same girl. It's hard to make everyone satisfied without lip-sync.

The good: after the organizer released the fact, the song made two girls famous in China. Good luck to them!

AUGUST 12, 2008 11:36 PM | REPORT OFFENSIVE COMMENTS

MIKE:
Pomfret,

In order to drive down the IQ level of people in this forum, let me point out more fakes at the Opening Ceremony.

1. The Bird Nest stadium is definitely a fake. Birds will never build a nest with steel and concrete. They build with straws and leaves.

How dare are the commies to pull such a fake on us! who they think we are?

2. The movable printing segment was definitely a fake. It was no printing. It was merely people hiding inside a box and moving it up and down, trying to fool the world.

3. The scroll was on the ground was no scroll at all. It was a LED screen showing some images. How stupid the Chinese think the Americans are?

4. The segment showing the naval history of China have no real ships at all. It was all fakes. There wasn't even any water on the ground. How could they row a boat without water? Stupid commies!

5. And the segment with Sarah Brightman singing on top of a globe. It wasn't real. Real earth is not that small. Another fake.

6. Li Ning wasn't running along the rim of the stadium when he lighted the Cauldron. He was suspended on wires and was merely pretended to run. He wasn't running at all. He was moved along by someone.

These fakes all show the Chinese commies have no respect for American's IQ. How sad! This makes me very angry. Let's boycott Chinese fakes.

AUGUST 12, 2008 11:32 PM | REPORT OFFENSIVE COMMENTS

ANONYMOUS:
Infantile nationalism:
"The only thing that Chinese people will continue to do is TO BE STRONGER"

Deluded hysteria: "your scheme"

Hysterical nationalism based on a pervasive sense of insecurity:
"only in the US could the population be so bent to make a villain of others like China so that they fail to see how sick their society has become".

And this: "according to your expertise that you are not even a Chinese, how can you write Chinese history according to yourself". Here is ignorance of the role of external observation in assessment of a country. Does, for example, the US accurately self-evaluate? Of course not. No one can. It also reveals the hysteria about sovereignty mentioned previously.

The point about Tibetan surnames was just in response to the claim that all the ethnicities “of China” have surnames—if so, then Tibetans and Monguor are not. Just a minor logic error and a petty point...but general Chinese ignorance of Tibetan life is revealing.

Your response with the stuff about Tibetan slavery is ignorance resulting from prolonged exposure to propaganda. As in all good lies, there are some kernels of truth to string together there, negative facts about life in Tibet prior to the Chinese occupation. But life was no more unjust there than elsewhere in the world and immediate vicinity or enough to justify an occupation. Have you not criticized Bush for occupying Iraq with the claim that the US is there to fix it?

And of course you exaggerate the role of the Dalai Lama. The Chinese propaganda department does this so they’ll have someone to blame while they claim that most Tibetans welcome the occupation—but in March the world saw that this is not true. Tibetans cannot give up their sovereignty any more than the Chinese: look at the hysteria left by so many centuries of control by Mongolia, Manchuria, European powers and the Japanese.
AUGUST 12, 2008 11:32 PM | REPORT OFFENSIVE COMMENTS

ANONYMOUS:
To Anonymous:

--Then since most Tibetans do not have surnames...--

Do you know why?

Because the tradition of Tibetan is that every child and stock was born as property of Dalai Lama before 1950, China reunited Tibet.

That those were slaves are always slaves, even their children, royalty of Lama are always royalties, which means any person who was slave can be put to death as stock.

I guess those Tibetan separatist did not yell in front of camera to tell the world that they have that tradition is deeply rooted with their religion huh?

Otherwise why Dalai Lama even get involved of politics, in Tibet religion that Tibet is possession of Dalai Lama, not even common Tibetan, like Jonestown of US 1977

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonestown

That a religious leader decides the life of his stock and slaves.

Everything is decided by the monk and his following hypocrites.

Even US would not want any her state split for such religious state.
AUGUST 12, 2008 11:10 PM | REPORT OFFENSIVE COMMENTS

AE:
No one claimed US society is not sick. Nationalism is an illness that strikes every country. But Americans may be rightfully proud that you know about their shortcomings in such detail. That at least is something.

AUGUST 12, 2008 10:56 PM | REPORT OFFENSIVE COMMENTS

ANONYMOUS:
Then since most Tibetans do not have surnames...

AUGUST 12, 2008 10:54 PM | REPORT OFFENSIVE COMMENTS

BASIL:
There are many things "more real" about China than the US. Remember Iraq and WMD ? What about Fannie and Freddie. These are fake insolvent institutions trying to con the world and China's hard earned money. Compare Szechuan earthquake efforts to Hurricane Katrina's. US media should be ashamed to pick on a child lip-syncing as a big deal. But, only in the US could the population be so bent to make a villain of others like China so that they fail to see how sick their society has become.

AUGUST 12, 2008 10:48 PM | REPORT OFFENSIVE COMMENTS

ANONYMOUS:
To AE,

according to your expertise that you are not even a Chinese, how can you write Chinese history according to yourself.

It is like I write a novel about your wife belly to tell the world how she howls and moans in my bed.

You failed your scheme, There are 56 ethnics Chinese, all differented by last name.

Like western people's family tree. Stop acting like you know something, watch some games will ya.


AUGUST 12, 2008 10:46 PM | REPORT OFFENSIVE COMMENTS

AE:
"Nationalism is an infantile disease" --Albert Einstein

China is showing its true colors. One billion people have been "educated" on false history and patriotic slogans drumming up hatred, fear and belligerence. This has not nurtured their intelligence, forbearance, tolerance or acceptance. One thing the Tibetan fiasco revealed was just how poorly equipped the Chinese leaders are to handle anything. Putting up a good front is what its all about for them. Chinese politics are all about “mian” (face) and “mian” (rice).

The Chinese leadership specializes in facades. For example, the Chinese people’s belief that Tibet is part of China is the success of a propaganda system that wrote all textbooks and controlled all scholarship on and reporting of the issue. Unfortunately, the Tibetans are not primitives with no documentation of their own history. Quite the opposite, so its harder for them to bury the facts in this case (harder for example than it was for the US with Native Americans).

China’s tellings of its own history are an exercise in face-saving cover-ups and switcheroos. These two little girls perfectly reveal the falseness of the entire story of Chinese historical representation, including, for example, the way it tells the story of Tibet. Consider this: China was conquered by Mongolians but represents this as their own “Yuan Dynasty”. Does that make any sense outside a pervasive interest in saving face? If these supposedly internal dynasties “of China” were really Chinese, why would China be so hysterical about their sovereignty? No one builds a wall in the middle of their property but the Great Wall cuts off Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet (not only of modern “Tibet” but also of Qinghai, Gansu, Western Sichuan and Yunnan) and East Turkestan (aka “Xinjiang”). ...Interestingly, it is the Mongols, not the Chinese, who received the obeisance of Tibetans, and later the Manchurians, another conquering foreign power that held China (also represented as their own dynasty, the Qing, even though Chinese were second-class citizens in their own country during the occupation of the "Qing dynasty", as they were during the "Yuan").

Chinese “history” is the greatest history ever made up whole-cloth and believed by millions. The kind of face-saving switcheroo revealed by these girls is the habit of China from the bottom to the top.

The Chinese leadership, and in many ways the entire country, is driven by its insecurities. It is not impossible in their cynical realpolitics that the Chinese leadership could have caused the earthquake in a massive switcheroo designed to shift the image of them covering up the Tibetan uprisings to a more positive image of themselves as problem-solvers (not an entirely serious suggestion, but not impossible either since geologists have long had holes drilled and ready to drop in charges to relieve seismic pressures—and it certainly came at a convenient time, shifting the intense pressure off Tibetan revolution).

Sometimes liberals get confused and feel they must tolerate intolerance. This is not the case. We must forebear as much as possible, and accept the person while rejecting the action. Tolerance, acceptance, forbearance are positive values, good in themselves. We do not show hypocrisy when we do not accept China's intolerance. We accept Chinese people and the Chinese nation and mourn the false educations they have received. I for one am happy to see the rise of an alternate power to America. But lets not kid ourselves: The Chinese leaders are ignorant thugs and the Chinese propaganda “education” system is entirely destructive, especially to the Chinese people, who will never be taken seriously as long as they spout its absurd jingoistic falsities. At worst of course all this could lead us to a state of war none of us should ever contemplate even for a moment.

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/pomfretschina/2008/08/milli_vanilli_goes_to_the_olym.html