Beijing–The Forbidden City

For the past year or so, as we have been watching the Countdown clock for the Beijing Olympic Games wind its way towards 8-8-08, the question on everyone’s mind has been, what will it really be like here this summer, in the run-up to the Games, and during the Games themselves. Of course no one really knew, but that never stopped us from speculating; however, we did know for certain that once we got within that magic 1oo days, whatever interesting things might happen would probably start. 

Well, here we are at 93 days, and full-scale zaniness has broken out.  Keeping track of the rumors of new regulations is practically a full-time job.  New visa regulations over here.  New security procedures for this.  No more doing that.  I’d like to list out all the rumors I’ve heard just in the past 48 hours, but there’s even a regulation against spreading rumors.   Actually the regulation is against spreading false rumors, but the problem is that as the rumors are spreading no one knows if they are false or simply preludes to reality. Only time reveals which it is.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the folks in charge of this fair city are in a state of high anxiety, and if they can make it through August without having collective heart failure, it will be quite an accomplishment.  I’ve been here a long time and haven’t seen this level of nervousness since the early 1990’s.  The world is coming to town and they are suddenly afraid of what the world might do.

Slowly, but surely, Beijing is becoming The Forbidden City!

Here are two interesting articles about the mood in town (especially as it relates to foreigners):

China’s Fear of Summer (Time)

For Chinese, A Shift in Mood from Hospitable to Hostile