Hey China: The Olympics Haven’t Helped Your Image

It was meant to be the event that showed the world how China had evolved, but the latest news coming out of Beijing this final Friday of the Olympics only adds to the list of newly exposed negative imagery.

The newest tidbit is about iTunes and China’s apparent blocking of the site in the midst of its international moment. Computer users in Beijing say they haven’t been able to download songs all week. Speculation points the sudden silencing to a Tibet-themed album made available on the service. The Art of Peace Foundation says several dozen athletes downloaded its work “in an act of solidarity,” and the site was blocked soon thereafter.

China’s government officials have not responded to any press inquiries. Apple, for its part, is only saying it’s “aware of the logon problems” but has “no comment at the moment.”

Oh yeah, and those medal-winning Chinese gymnasts? Newly uncovered documents may finally prove what everyone’s suspected all along: that more than one of them is underage and not eligible to be competing.

Add all of this to the opening ceremony saga, the questions over judging validity, and the backing down of promises for “complete media freedom” for press — not to mention the hoards of quickly quieted and slyly arrested protesters all throughout the days — and the Games haven’t exactly brought China the glory it wanted. It’s a damned shame, too. But beneath the eerily plastered-on smiles being shown for the cameras, the entire world has seen a disturbing and consistent picture of censorship, dishonesty, and questionable treatment of people.

You can put on all the fake fireworks and lipsynced performances you want, but when the charades are over, there’s little to celebrate — and no one is being fooled.

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