11 Points

11 Very Strange Ways China's Preparing to Host the Olympics
written by Sam Greenspan

When the International Olympic Committee decided to put the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, they had to guess that the Chinese government would do some crazy, crazy shit to get ready. After all, China's in that weird limbo right now where it's trying to prove it's a viable, modern country... but, under the surface, it's still communist and poor and totally behind the times.

So China has not disappointed in its preparation for the Olympics. I've got the 11 best (and by best, I mean most ludicrous and insane) things they've done compiled right here...



  1. Three absolute classic Engrish signs.
    Getting rid of all the Engrish. I love when China has English signs with hilarious translations. (There's a website devoted to this, which they call Engrish.) But apparently, the government is embarrassed by places like Racist Park... signs that say "please don't touch yourself, let us help you to try out"... and, of course, the restaurant called "Translate Server Error." So they're eradicating those signs.

    Their goal was to get all the Engrish off the major public signs in Beijing by January of this year. No word on whether they made it or not. I pray not.

  2. Banning restaurants from serving dog meat. It's sad but true. If you're in China next month for the Olympics, and you're just craving some delicious doberman to snack on, you're screwed. In China, restaurants call dog xiangrou, which literally translates to fragrant meat. (Love that.) And, in anticipation for the Olympics, Beijing tourism officials have told restaurants to get it off their menus. The stated reason: Quote, "[To] respect the habits of many countries and nationalities."

  3. Controlling the weather. That's right. They're so worried about rain, especially during the opening ceremonies, that they've sunk more than $100 million a year into figuring out how to control the weather. The main principle: Shooting artillery shells at clouds to blast them, and the rain they may bring, out of the sky. (No word on what happens when the shell misses and hits a person. Must be nice to run things communist style.)

    According to reports, China has more than 3,000 people on rain-fighting duty. These people have more than 7,000 anti-rain cannons and 4,600 anti-rain rocket launchers at their disposal.

  4. Banning bald cab drivers. Because bald cab drivers make a bad impression, the Beijing city government has created a set of standards for taxi drivers working the games. For men, you can't be bald, have a beard, eat in the cab, spit, smoke... or smell bad. For women, you have to do your hair, dress "smartly" and not wear earrings.

    I get the impression the Chinese government officials who made these rules have never ridden a cab in in U.S. Because our standards are much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much lower than theirs. All I want is the driver not to be screaming into his Bluetooth and maybe to have put on deodorant sometime during the previous week and I'm satisfied.

  5. Passing out "How to Talk to Foreigners and Handicapped People" pamphlets.China has been rapidly handing out pamphlets to try to get the locals ready to talk to the hundreds of thousands of visitors. This includes things like "don't ask about love life or marriage"... "don't ask about someone's home or address"... "don't ask about income"... and "don't ask about age".

    The pamphlets also give advice on talking to Special Olympians in Beijing. For example, "When chatting with athletes who are paraplectic in their upper body, do not say things like 'It's behind you.'"

    And finally, they give advice on how to be a good pedestrian when it's crowded, like: "Men should help women carry things, but must not help women carry their handbags."

  6. Telling bars not to serve black people or Mongolians. Not during the Olympics... I'm sure if LeBron James or Genghis Khan XIV wants a beer, they'll be able to get one. But right now, the Chinese government is really down on black people and Mongolians.

    Turns out the Beijing police think that those two groups are the ones that bring drugs, prostitutes and unsavory dancing into the bar scene... and they want that gone before the Olympics arrives.

    The best way to achieve that? Racial profiling! See, China really is getting all its cues from America now.

  7. Trying to lure foreign athletes into using HGH and getting disqualified.So China wants to make sure black people and Mongolians don't bring drugs to the bars... but they really hope that Western athletes get mixed up with some drugs. Specifically, human growth hormone.

    Earlier this year, the British spy agency MI6 discovered that China was testing its version of HGH on their prisoners, to make sure it would show up in Olympic-style drug tests. Then the government would subtly make those drugs available through shady street characters... and hope that American, British and other Olympians couldn't resist the urge take them. Next thing you know, the American guy tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs and his medal goes to a Chinese athlete.

    According to a member of the U.K. Sports Drug-Free Unit, the Chinese government is obsessed with winning a ton of medals at the Olympics, quote, "It is no secret that the Beijing regime sees the Games in much the same light as the Nazis did at the Berlin Games."


  8. A classic Chinese squat toilet. Just think about the balance and what you do with your pants for a second.
    Installing tons of new toilets. In China, even in the major cities, when people want to go to the bathroom, it's completely commonplace to just squat over a hole in the ground. (Or, in nicer places, over an underground toilet bowl hooked up to a rudimentary plumbing system.) Fortunately, someone in Beijing got word that in developed countries, people don't really do that.

    So they've embarked on a giant toilet building mission, to, at least, try to get the Olympic stadiums and major venues ready for the Games.

    More than 8,000 workers are now going around on toilet patrol to get things ready for next month... but the government admits it won't all get done in time. One official says that their real goal is just to make sure there are regular toilets available for "journalists, athletes and VIPs."

  9. Getting rid of all the weird foods. Fragrant meat isn't the only food that's off the menu in China until the Games are over. The government has banned a whole bunch of local foods that could be too strange for foreigners (and/or whose translation is too funny for foreigners).

    That includes shredded documents with Hoisin sauce... sweet & salmonella soup... vegetables with tingling horse flavor... Peking Daffy duck... aromatic octopus on wheels... force-fed shrip... and even eggplant prepared under mysterious circumstances. Seriously. All of those are actual Chinese menu items. Now banned, through September.

  10. Banning fireworks. We all know China is the granddaddy of fireworks. But, be warned: If you're planning to go over there and buy enough fireworks to throw your own Disney Dreams Come True spectacular... you may end up in Chinese prison. And no one gets out of Chinese prison. China has banned fireworks until October 8th. Whether it's for safety considerations, like they say, or because they don't want anyone doing anything to upstage the Olympics... fireworks are done there.


  11. The Chinese riot squad, on Segways.
    Putting their riot squad on Segways. This seems practical. In case there's a riot, demonstration or protest during the Games... and, with how politically charged these Games are, the odds are there will be... China doesn't want to roll out the tanks. That's so 1991.

    No... they've been training their riot police to ride on pitch black Segways.

    It may seem comical, but I got to tell you, if I'm part of a protest and suddenly I see six dozen armed Chinese police officers coming at me like futuristic demons on Segways, I will no longer care about Tibet's freedom and get the hell out of the way.


This post was originally published on Monday, July 28, 2008 at 07:04:02 PM under the category News & Politics.

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