Oh dear. The Olympic Games may change some aspects of China’s international image, but they won’t be doing anything to counter the country’s reputation for fakery.
Parts of it, anyway. Remember the cute little girl in a red dress who sang while the Chinese flag was being brought into the stadium at the beginning? Lin Maoke is indeed as sweet as she looked on television, but that wasn’t her voice you heard. She was lip synching to a recording of another little girl called Yang Peiyi.
Organizers resorted to this subterfuge in the name of “national interest,” the general Music Designer of the Opening Ceremony explained in a radio interview two days ago with the Beijing People’s Broadcasting Station.
“It is the image of our national music, national culture,” Chen Qigang said.
The trouble was that Lin Maoke was the prettier of the two girls, but a Politburo member no less (one of the top nine men in the Chinese government hierarchy) attending a rehearsal ruled that her voice was not good enough.
Yang Peiyi, however, was not pretty enough, in the eyes of the ceremony’s director. So he gave her voice to little Lin Maoke.
That way, according to Mr. Chen, “we have a perfect voice and a perfect image ... the two combined together.”
As the Chinese stretch for “flawless” in every sphere, they are not averse to a bit of jiggery-pokery.
Another spectacular element of the Opening Ceremony was the march of 29 footprints in the sky, flashing in fireworks above Beijing. I saw them, because I was outside the Bird’s Nest stadium. But spectators inside watching on a screen, and one billion people around the world watching on TV, actually saw computer-generated graphics instead, because organizers didn’t think they would be able to film the real thing properly. Only the last footprint, visible from the camera positions inside the stadium, made it into the broadcast.