On Thursday May 8, after negotiating a few road bumps along the way, the Olympic torch reached China and was planted atop Mount Everest. It was a good idea to plant it there since it was unlikely that Tibetan independence protesters would come together more than 29, 000 feet above sea level. Interestingly, to ensure the flame doesn’t go out, the torch was reportedly designed by a Chinese company that specialises in burning systems for rockets, which could act as a reminder of the military violence that China has displayed repeatedly against its own people and Tibet. However, let us focus on the positive.
As a glowing example of Chinese public relations/ disaster management/ foreign policy, the torch-bearing team was made up of Tibetans, ethnic Han Chinese and one person from the Tujia minority (I wonder whether other Chinese minority communities like the Dong, Tatar and Lhoba feel like they’re part of the happy family that the team portrays). Or of course, it could also be the sheer arrogance of China to think that having this team, in red outfits and yelling “Long live Tibet” and “Long live Beijing”, would make us feel differently about its human rights record. As an additional sop, the one who actually planted the flag was a Tibetan woman (thus hitting two significant minority birds with one stone), Ciren Wangmu, who did the final trek without oxygen. China would like us to look at the symbolic value of this act and so I will. Clearly, Tibet is out in the cold and enduring without oxygen. The only illumination comes from the torch held up by Chinese military (remember who manufactured the torch…). Thank you for reminding us.
This seems like a good moment to post this brilliant cartoon that Rimi Chatterjee posted a month back in her rather wonderful site, Live Like a Flame (most apropos to this post). As she so accurately put it, so that’s how they came up with it.