Beijing will be dressed to impress this August when the world turns its attention east for the Summer Olympics. Radar lists eight changes in its July/August issue that China is making to ensure the city is picture perfect when the cameras go on.
- Reduced traffic
To avoid unsightly traffic, the Chinese government will only let half of Beijing's drivers on its streets. How will they decide who gets to drive? Even- and odd-numbered license plates will alternate days. See, life is fair.
- Less spitting
China's government is known for its oppressive quirks, but that does not include prohibiting spitting in the street. Until now. Fines and tissues will be handed to the defiant.
- Fewer felines
Apparently, Beijing is like one giant cat lady. And that never did my image any good, so I can see why China is concerned. To reduce the city's overpopulated kitty sidewalks, the government launched an aggressive campaign to ensure people know the truth about cats. You know, like how they carry SARS. Scared pet owners have been sending their beloved fluffies to cat death camps.
There are more upgrades afoot. To see what else is going on,
- Cloudless skies
You know what they say! It never rains in Beijing when they hire scientists to shoot silver iodide-filled rockets into clouds from 21 locations to preempt summer showers.
- No knockoffs
Take your counterfeit Olympic gear back to Canal Street. Officials are patrolling the streets, particularly looking out for unauthorized use of the Olympic logo. Make sure your new mug has all five Olympic rings!
- Orderly lines
Since China is a Communist country, it surprises me that standing in line never really took off. But there you have it. Preferring to nudge their way to the front, Beijingers have been learning the letter queue for over a year now with monthly, government-induced practice.
- No turtle blood
Competitive athletes take note: Turtle blood — and deer penis — can be used as performance-enhancing drugs. Just not in Beijing this August.
- No Chinglish
Bad translations can be so much fun — "slip and fall down carefully" — but for a city in primping mode they are an embarrassment. Unfortunately, a 35-person committee is "caretaking" this problem.
Looks like once they get these eight woes under control, they'll be good to go for 08/08/08 . . . right? Are cosmetic changes like these eclipsing the greater human rights concerns? If China is shiny on the outside, will people overlook deeper trouble?