Jul 28

Can the Chinese government let people have a good time?

Written by guest on Monday, July 28th, 2008 at 4:41 am
Filed under:-mini-posts, Letters, media | Tags:, , ,
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Here is a article “Wild dogs of nationalism let off the leash” on Beijing 08 blogs of Sydney Morning Herald by award winning sports writer John Birmingham. The Article starts with

Picture a couple of Falun Gong dudes, or a Tibetan Monk sitting in a cell, waiting for the Games to finish so they can be executed and give up their organs for harvest.

This picture in someone’s mind is not new and not that exiting about . What I think is interesting is John has asked a good question later on

“But can the Chinese government let people have a good time? Can they let go of their inner control freak and let people dance on the tables? Let ‘em run wild, and free? Their neurotic obsession with the minutiae of the events media controls suggest otherwise.”

May I ask everyone here with the same question :

“can the Chinese government let people have a good time during Olympics?”

who would be those who are going to have fun and have a dance on the table? How many are they?

I think John would be surprised in two weeks. Time would tell us(or Buxi would tell us)

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38 Responses to “Can the Chinese government let people have a good time?”

  1. BMY Says:

    a little girl in Tang family might have been dancing on the bed/table and having fun right now in Beijing.:-)

  2. Pete Briquette Says:

    Well I’m not playing guitar in my favourite bar any more; they’ve had visits from the police telling them that foreigners can only play music if they have a visa to do so. Hopefully that’ll end after the Olympics; I might not be much good, but it’s a night out with a few free beers to boot.

    Of course, given my lack of talent, that may be doing it to protect the long-suffering patrons from further aural abuse…

  3. Chops Says:


    Well, the authorities would’nt want a foreigner to do another “Bjork” who shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” during a concert in Shanghai.

  4. Netizen Says:

    Chinese are having fun but anti-Chinese individuals aren’t. That’s all.

  5. Anon Says:

    As usual, Netizen nails it on the head: the level of fun to be had is inversely proportional to the level of China-bashing… Fun and anti-Chinese feelings are so obviously linked, it pains me to see nobody else has made the connection before. Genius! Netizen: get a life and get out more – but maybe you are too busy earning your 50 cents per comment (is there a certain quality-level linked to the payment??)…

    It is clear that, while lots of Chinese people are wanting to have fun, the government, in its usual wisdom, is preventing that as much as possible: no outdoor seating, closing-down of bars and restaurants, one stupid rule after the other on how to behave with foreigners, etc, etc… Spontaneity does not go together with thought control, unfortunately.

  6. Netizen Says:

    Annon, are you a FLGoner? You sound like one.

  7. Netizen Says:

    Anon, you said “as usual”, are you stalking me? I heard FLGoners stalk people who have different oppinions from theirs.

  8. Anon Says:

    Of course I am stalking you – that’s the only thing I can do these days as I am not allowed to have fun outside. Netizen, I DO have a life and don’t need to spend my days spouting inanities on the web. Bye!

  9. Theo Says:

    It’s an interesting question. Look at the jubilant celebrations in China when it was announced that Beijing had ‘won’ the right to host the Games. Will there be similar scenes if China tops the medal tables or beats Japan in some key event?
    How much slack will the relevant authorities allow the Chinese people to celebrate? Dancing in Tiananmen? Firecrackers and convoys of cars sounding their horns? Or will there be an official “Zhonguo Jiayou” celebration dance routine?

  10. KL Says:

    What a stupid question….I don’t know what’s fun you are talking about, but I don’t think whether I am having fun or not is largely irrelevant of the Chinese government. So the fun is to dance on the table? Seriously in my short life as a miserable Chinese I never saw any Chinese person dance on the table…You are only talking about YOUR fun, not the Chinese people’s. Why pretend to care, Anon? I am glad to see you are forbidden to have fun, but it’s by yourself not by the Chinese government. Oh, how bad the government is! It doesn’t allow me to go into a bar and have fun, it doesn’t allow me to eat out. You are the maker of your own miserable world. Crying baby!

    Is Olympics really so important in our lives? I don’t know, I may wait in a queue for hours in order to get a ticket, or I may leave Beijing before the opening. It’s just a game. That’s all. Watch it and have fun, leave it and have other fun. Simple choice simple answer.

    In my short 3 years in Beijing, I’ve never felt that my good time has any relevance with the Games, but I have always been having fun with people here. I may go to the Games with them–this is definitely fun for me, or I may leave Beijing and they will tell me how exciting the Games is–this is also definitely fun for me. Shall I dance on the table? Hell, it’s your problem not mine.

  11. KL Says:


    Sorry to hear that, guitar always rocks! But get yourself a visa which will allow you to play. Play fun, play legally–if you are paid, play to pay the tax.

    Foreigners come to China and work here, now it’s time to protect those who have a work visa and work legally by kicking out those who don’t have one and work illegally–most importantly, never certificated, never taxed. Don’t make yourself mis-labelled as them, it will be a waste of your talent.

  12. Netizen Says:

    @Anon #8,

    OK, you are admitted to be a stalker. Why are you fleeing the scene so quickly? It’s because you are found to be a FLGoner?

  13. MutantJedi Says:

    Injecting the imagery of organ harvesting of monks and FLGers under the anesthetic of drunken displays of “fun” is an interesting feint.

    But what about the fun that John Birmingham, a self described “lazy, opinionated, pigheaded and oafish scribe who was never any good at any sports growing up,” talks about? With those endearing qualities and the attitude of his mug, I’d suggest that he stick with the expat bars.

    John, buddy, get over your issues, loosen up a bit, eh. 🙂 If you do, while you’re in Beijing, you just might make a few Chinese friends. Since you like the ouzo, if you can make some Chinese friends, you might enjoy drinking games with báijiǔ. Perhaps they can even break that scowl of yours long enough to sing a few Aussie songs. Hell, you might even learn a Chinese song.

    Just a tip though Johnny… If you want to make friends in Beijing, don’t start the conversation with “How about them organ harvesting, mate?”

  14. pug_ster Says:

    John Birmingham probably flunked journalism school and resort to writing these propagandist articles.

  15. Charles Liu Says:

    Oh pleeeze, FLG’s discredited organ harvesting allegation is basically the rehash of “vivsection” bit we used to say about the Soviets. Simple execution wasn’t cruel enough (we do it ourselves) them godless commies must be cutting people open in the old Christian tradition.

  16. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    “….who would be those who are going to have fun and have a dance on the table? How many are they?
    I think John would be surprised in two weeks. Time would tell us(or Buxi would tell us).”

    I like your questions. They are intriguing. But they are too refined and ambiguous for my taste.
    I have no questions for John, just a simple answer.
    “Kiss my Chinese commie ass and have a nice day.”

  17. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    I hope everyone understands that was a joke. At least half a joke, that part that unrelated to FLG.

  18. pmw Says:

    He left. He’s a Goner (for now).

  19. MoneyBall Says:

    Picture this,

    Elizabeth Edwards, who is diagnosed with cancer and dying, campaining for his husband all over the country, screaming at the rallies, shaking hands and doing photo ops with thousands.
    Meanwhile, John Edwards, the liberals’ alter boy, is fucking some whore named Hunter in a hotel.

    That picture pretty much tells everything you need to know about American tree-huggers.

  20. MutantJedi Says:

    … MoneyBall, I think you’ve got too many browser or chat windows open and you’ve got your threads confused… How did we get from insular Aussie to… something about American tree hugging liberal alter boys.

  21. Buxi Says:


    Haha, you’re absolutely right about the Tang girl having fun. She’s had a blast since she’s been here. I don’t think I’m the only one in the West that feels this way… but when she’s in the US, she just has to feel lonely. Maybe you can find a playgroup with 4-5 other kids, but she’s a little young for us to just drop off somewhere. So, on most days, she get through the day with no-one but her immediate family.

    In Beijing, she’s like a rockstar. She’s the center of attention everywhere she goes. And everywhere she looks, there are kids, babies, people… the restaurants are packed, the stores are packed, the streets are packed… it’s just too much fun.

    So, when people question whether Beijing is fun… for those of us who’re used to it, the lifestyle here is simply unbeatable. It’s hard thinking of going back. Let me give another quick example.

    We ate breakfast next to Rupert Murdoch + family + staff yesterday morning. (The kids were great, my daughter played with them a little… but you can tell they’re all being raised by nannies.) And frankly, the breakfast wasn’t very good, standard continental breakfast hotel stuff, and the environment was anything but fun. Maybe that’s the kind of stuff the Aussie journalist prefers.

    The best meal of the day for me, by far, was our lunch in a local cafeteria/food-court with all the millions of other middle-class Beijing’ers. There were easily 30 different stands in the food-court, everything different (and I plan on eating at a different one every day). I had a big tub of 麻辣香锅: choose your raw ingredients (which they bill on the basis of weight), and they’ll fry it in a wok of standard Sichuan spices. I’m salivating right now just thinking about it.

    And what’s waiting back in the US? Quiznos? A slice of pizza? Tuna fish sandwich and soup? Ugh.

    For dinner, we ended up doing the tourist thing on the bar street in Houhai. But after dinner, we fled the bar area to the “ordinary” Beijing’er side of the lake (without the neon lights) on the east side. Kids + adults were swimming in the lake, playing games, playing guitars…. wish I took a video and showed you how little fun they were all having.

    All in all, so far, it looks to me like it’s possible for people to have a great time even if protesting for Tibet or practicing Falun Gong is illegal. Imagine that.

  22. Charles Liu Says:

    Hey, don’t knock US too much. Have you split a porterhouse at Ruth’s Chris or Morton’s?

  23. Buxi Says:


    I was talking more of a “working lunch” than Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris. 🙂 These were people on their lunch-breaks eating a quick meal that would be the highlight of my *month* back in the United States.

  24. MoneyBall Says:


    no really … I just saw that story I felt so shocked and digusted, i had to say something…. sorry I knew it was off the topic.

    just to make it up to this thread, I think Aussies are cool…. because they eat kangroos and have no problems talking about it…. they even made me taste it, and its delicious.

  25. Charles Liu Says:

    MB, I’d take adultry over public toilet footie any time…

    Okay just to be on topic, the Chinese government has never once got in the way of me having fun in China.

    And no, repel down monuments/buildings (something also illegal in US) and hang giant flags is not my definition of fun. Neither is thumping the Bible while ignoring what the Bible says about “obey the law of the land”.

  26. MoneyBall Says:

    no, public toilet footie is entertaining, a lot of people had a lot of fun for a very long time thanks to senator Craig.
    this is cruel, think about what would be on Liz’s mind when she dies, she’s such a wonderful and brave woman, I tell ya I know that alter boy is a phony and cheat the 1st time I saw him on tv, all good looking men are.

  27. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To MB:
    I agree about Edwards. Multimillionaire law firm partner as champion for the populist voice seemed a little contrived to me. Besides, having him in the White House (bright eloquent powerful early middle-age guy) would’ve started the countdown to the next Gap dress debacle and further grammatical updates on the definition of “is”.

  28. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I don’t think the Chinese government can, or will bother trying to restrict individuals from having a good time. I mean, if one were so inclined, you could have a grand ol’ time sitting in a closet with a bottle of Jack and a big fattie. However, they do seem more inclined to control the masses, and the more public displays of eating/drinking/being merry. Admittedly, traditional Chinese definition of having fun might differ from those of other cultures. And also admittedly, it’s China’s turf, so it’s their rules. But if the point is to invite the world to celebrate, the government might want to, if only temporarily, relax a little as people try to have fun in non-“traditional Chinese” ways.

  29. BMY Says:

    may I kindly reminder not to try to label each other with something like “50 mao” or “goner” whenever agree or disagree. we might all need try to keep the discussions civil.

    just my 2 cents(might be out of the 50 cents)

  30. BMY Says:


    “no outdoor seating, closing-down of bars and restaurants,”

    are you able to verify that? I don’t like this policy if it is true.

  31. BMY Says:


    “that’s the only thing I can do these days as I am not allowed to have fun outside.”

    That would be too much to say “you are not allowed to have fun outside” . It’s hardly to see the truth from here.

  32. Daniel Says:

    Actually, what is the traditional Chinese definition of “fun”?
    I assume that as human beings, what is fun or not isn’t really up to any particular culture to dictate, but I guess there may be a few different ideals to bite on. Like getting drunk may fun once in a while…but other people may have different ideas about it, some which may be personal and little to do with nationality or culture.

  33. Buxi Says:


    “no outdoor seating, closing-down of bars and restaurants,”

    That’d be news to me, since I had dinner at an outside bar/restaurant last night, and plenty of expats around as well.

    I can’t really say enough how fun Beijing is right now, and I haven’t felt remotely restricted so far. Only Olympic-related restriction I’m aware of: windows facing Chang’an Jie can not be opened.

    Went to the zoo this year (first time since I was a kid), and it totally exceeded my expectation; it helps it’s a breezy day with the hint of rain in the air, very comfortable. Subways are far better than they were 3-4 years ago, so transportation was convenient. (When did they add air conditioning to the stations on line #2?) Oh, and I saw 3 people giving up their seats on the subway to/from the zoo this morning. There were plenty of old + pregnant people that were left standing too, but 3’s not bad.

    At the zoo itself, the animal displays (other than the lions/tigers mountain) were great, the 10+ panda bears were great… crowds were great, people were having fun, polite, and picking up their own garbage.

  34. BMY Says:


    well, you are having so much fun !! be careful don’t eat too much. 🙂

    I went to the zoo 19 years ago and it was not much to see and the food at outside bars in WangFuJing was not that great when compare to ChengDu and Xi’An then.

    a lot has changed/developed I can imagine.

  35. chriswaugh_bj Says:

    S’pose I’ll wade into the fray for the first time…..

    That Aussie article and the few attached comments I could stomach were the usual load of ignorant and willfully ill-informed tripe. Par for the course, unfortunately. I’m not looking forward to seeing the depths ignorant journalists are going to dive to over the next couple of months.

    But, as if it were necessary (and some people are so stubbornly avoiding reality it apparently is necessary) to prove that reports of the No Fun Olympics are, at the very least, grossly overexaggerated, here’s Beijing Boyce’s report about gleefully breaking all the rules that are supposed to have been imposed to stop people enjoying themselves:

    Now, I’m not into the bars and clubs anymore- maybe I’m getting old, but I find all that malarkey profoundly boring unless there’s a good band to listen to- but I assure you nobody’s getting between me and my amusements. In fact, I’m having a lot of fun hanging out my window watching a big old Mil helicopter chase a little Aerospatiale Dauphin (or the Chinese edition of it) in circles around 北工大. The Mil’s a bit slow, though, he can’t keep up. Guess it must be practice for Olympic security, the badminton stadium is only a kilometre away. And all my little local haunts, apart from one that happens to offer an ungaurded back entrance into 北工大 and thence to the badminton stadium, are still open as per normal. Ate lunch outside the other day- and two cop cars drove past and saw us and our rapidly growing accumulation of empty Yanjing bottles. They just kept going. Guess it’s because we were doing so much to support an Olympic sponsor…

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, the helicopters have finished their little game- I guess the Mil pilot packed a sad at not being able to keep up- and so I’m off to spend the 48 cents I have left on some fun.

  36. Pete Briquette Says:

    @ KL

    Well, I didn’t actually get paid for playing, just a few beers. Which is all I really want for my efforts (I used to do the same in my local at home). In fairness, I’m not going to get a visa for that (I wonder, what would be the right visa for “expat who wants to jam in his local once a week?” Would I need a Z, or could I get away with an F?).

    It’s not the end of the world that I can’t play any there any more, but it was nice to get out of the house for one evening of the week, and occasionally someone would say something like “Pete, that was good”, which was gratifying (more often someone would say “Sing ‘Hotel California'” or ‘Proud Mary’, which was not so gratifying). Oh well, c’est la vie.

  37. Buxi Says:


    Love the narrative! This just goes to show the Western media isn’t just ignoring Chinese voices… but voices from China, period. Seems like they’re intent on not enjoying themselves.

  38. Daba Says:

    What if they held an Olympics and nobody smiled?

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