Web page: The 2008 Olympics has created an illusion of China to the public and to the outside world. It is so fantastic, so unreal, that the entire meaning of the games is being distorted. At the opening ceremony we saw this global festival manipulated for the sake of narrow nationalism.
The propaganda system of the Chinese government went into overdrive, public money was spent like water and ranks of mediocre performers were employed to create an alternative, distorted reality. It received fake applause from the country's media and public. Officials from the International Olympic Committee and United Nations also collaborated in the deception with their comments on the success of the games and the improvement of the environment.
Whatever happened to the non-politicised festival of sport that we were promised? Anyone who cares about truth should avoid not politics, but Olympic lies. Beijing wants to show off how progressive and harmonious the city has become, so it has expelled migrant workers because they are poor, underpaid and seen as a potential source of insecurity.
Yet it was these workers – these slaves with socialist characteristics – who laid every brick and tile of the modern urban landscape. For the sake
of appearances, even the small shops they frequented have been shut down, along with many street markets, video outlets and clubs. So much for the slogans on the bridges and billboards that read "Beijing welcomes you" and "People's Olympics".
China's media organisations have been told they are only allowed to report the sporting achievements of the games. They are forbidden from covering problems or squabbling. They cannot criticise the cliched, rose-tinted statements of the authorities. With so much government interference, how can anyone say these Olympics are not politicised?
It is absurd that so much money has been wasted on manipulating public opinion, on simulating emotion. This nation is notorious for its ability to make or fake anything cheaply. "Made-in-China" goods now fill homes around the world. But our giant country has a small problem. We can't manufacture the happiness of our people.
This is not something that comes cheap. Real public contentment can't be pirated or copied. No matter how long our politicians order people to sing songs of praise, no matter how many fireworks they launch into the heavens, and no matter how many foreign leaders they embrace, they cannot arouse a genuine mood of joy and celebration among the people. It is as difficult for them to get a real smile as it is to keep the sky blue and the clouds white.
Neither fairness nor justice, neither reality nor humanity can be simulated or manipulated by wires or remote control. Those who staged the opening ceremony stopped at nothing to create a fantasy. They faked the footprints of fire with computer graphics. They exploited an innocent child by making her lip-synch to a patriotic song. These people are shameless. The organisers recently announced the theme of the closing ceremony. They tell us it will
be about "emotions" and "friendship", that it will be a night of joy. Who are they kidding?
Ai Weiwei, an artistic design consultant for the Birds Nest Olympics stadium,
is an artist, curator and architectural designer; he blogs in Chinese here.