I am in a China kind of mood these days… spurred on by the constant ebb and flow of odd and intriguing (along with the rather mundane) news that is circulating about China. In addition I am helping one of my favorite students with her final humanities project of the year and she must explore the side of the China-Tibet issue that she does not support. Therefore I am helping her look at pro-Tibet perspectives because she is pro-China. [When I asked her why she said, “I am Chinese.” My subsequent opinion on this will be forthcoming.]
There are five Olympic mascots, and, had I not known them by face and name before, I certainly would have after my sojourn to the mainland: Bei Bei the sturgeon, Jing Jing the panda, Huan Huan the Olympic flame, Ying Ying the Tibetan antelope and Ni Ni the kite (as in the bird and one you might fly).
Each one of these animals is associated with a particular place in China… are you ready for this? Let’s take them in chronological order:
- Ying Ying the Tibetan antelope [associated with, uh, Tibet] is behind the protests in Tibet
- Huan Huan the torch is behind the international protests surrounding the torch relay
- Ni Ni the kite [associated with Weifang the ‘kite city’ in Shandong] is behind the deadly train accident there in April
- Jing Jing the panda [associated with Sichuan, the home to the majority of pandas in China] is behind the earthquake in that province
Those little troublemakers!
Bei Bei the sturgeon is associated with the Yangtze River, the only place where this fish is found in China, and so people of the area are said to be bracing for tragedy. Or something.
On top of all this is the problem of Chinese numerology and astrology. Eight is one of the luckiest numbers in Chinese tradition and it just so happens that the Tibet riots kicked off on March (3) 14, which means 3+1+4=8; and the earthquake occurred on May (5) 12… 5+1+2=8. Should people be concerned that the Olympics are set to begin on 08-08-08 at 8:08???
One Chinese astrologer has said that the whole year of the rat was destined to be trouble for Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao anyhow as they are both horses born in 1942, a sign in direct conflict with the rat year. He also pointed out that the devastating snowstorms in January (the 25th to be exact… 1+2+5=8) further underscore the cosmic treachery.
For what it’s worth, I am still investing in broadband television to watch the Olympics and holding out hope that Bei Bei will find another way to express itself.
But I will be staying away from the Yangtze River just in case….