CHINA WATCH “Face-saving” (爱面子 ai mian zi) is typically Chinese. When it comes to the 2008 Olympic Game, Beijingers would definitely assure you a successful one for the sake of Chinese people’s face.
Athletes and coaches complained about Beijing’s polluted air a lot on the foreign media, but none of them can be seen on a Chinese media, so the majority of Chinese don’t know about it. If they do, believe me, they will do everything to save the face. “It is a matter of face of the Chinese people,” one Beijinger told me.
Like the four-day car-banning practice earlier this month, even though it caused some inconvenience for most car owners, and some people thought “it is ridiculous”, they will still do it when it is for the Olympics’ sake, as we were all brought up to take the nation’s honour above our individual interest.
The state media applauded it: according to the Beijing Environment Protection Monitoring Center, Beijing’s overall air quality improved during the four-day test period, and it is said that the government may make it a long-term practice in Beijing. “Air quality is not only a matter for Beijing’s image, but also a matter concerning the health of athletes and the general public,” an official from the Beijing organizing committee said.
But, to be honest, Greenbang China doesn’t see any blue skies as the media claimed to see during those four days.
And, unsurprisingly, private car owners don’t favour this policy. “It is just ridiculous! It is the government’s job to manage the traffic; now it can’t manage it so the car owners should be punished?!” as one angry Mr Zhang told us.
62% of car owners share his opinion, and among non-drivers, 22% did not think the even-odd plate exercise was a reasonable, scientific way to gauge air quality, according to a survey by Beijing Youth Daily.
“But for the sake of Olympics, I will do what it is best for the Game – it won’t last long anyway,” noted my colleague (who owns two cars).