Today’s news is that the Olympic torch has arrived in Xinjiang province. As widely reported in the Western press, the Xinjiang government encouraged people to watch at home on TV due to security concerns. In addition to schools and offices that organized groups to support the torch, many private Chinese still chose to come on the streets. Tianya has reports from some excited eyewitnesses.
In honor of the torch’s visit to Xinjiang, let me introduce a domestic movie that combines three of our favorite topics: football, Olympics, and minorities! Maimaiti’s 2008 is a movie about a group of kids in Turfan, on the edge of the Taklamakan desert. In order to inspire them, their young football coach Maimaiti tells them a little lie: a win in the district finals will translate into a visit to the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.
In a year when so many unexpected and abnormal events have struck China… one thing has remained the same. The Chinese men’s soccer team has failed in its attempt to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after losing to Iraq, a pathetic legacy that just can’t be explained. Soccer remains the most popular sport in China (with basketball catching up quickly)… a country of 1.3 billion people, millions are invested in the players, the best coaches/facilities… so, why are we so bad?
Guangzhou’s “New Culture” newspaper was literally at a loss of words. It ran a 84-font headline with no other content after this weekend’s loss:
Men’s Soccer Loses Again – We Have Nothing Left To Say
Ever since China flung open its doors in 1978, many Chinese have wanted to visit the United States. There’s a great deal of fascination with the world’s greatest superpower. But unfortunately, the door has almost always been closed. Initially by tight Chinese standards that restricted who could have access to a passport, but over the past decade, by tight American visa standards.
This issue has been discussed before (Washington Post article, 2006), although not many in the West are fully aware how difficult the visa issue has been in years past. The only Chinese who’ve entered the United States in the last two decades have been here to study, work, or to visit family. And even in these cases, after presenting an entire library of supporting documents to an often hostile consulate officer, a significant percentage (majority?) are denied visas for no obvious reason. It’s ironic to me that even as the United States government funds dissident groups in China in an attempt to spread the word on democracy, it keeps out hundreds of thousands of average Chinese willing to pay for the privilege of visiting.
But China’s economic growth has finally led to a change. Starting this fall, Chinese tourists will be given the opportunity to visit in groups. Chinese tourists will still have to appear at consulates for a face-to-face interview, but the indication is that visas will now be granted to the vast majority of qualified applicants.
Below is an article (文章) with a few early details: