Chinese do shrill really well. I'm looking forward to the Olympics when they adjust the treble to full and turn the bass off on all the speakers so that the quintessentially Chinese shriek can echo in all its piercing terseness across the vast concourses - that would help add to the atmospherics as ranks of security forces surge into crush that special Olympic athlete as she is wheeled along with a Tibetan ribbon on her unicorn stick. It's going to be beautiful.
Washington Post reports a mood change across the motherland:
A recent survey by a Beijing polling group found that more than 80 percent of those questioned believed Western news media were conveying a biased image of China abroad.
Meanwhile, a fervidly nationalistic campaign flared online, as Internet users suggested that foreigners were bigoted against China and that Western businesses should be boycotted. Demonstrators gathered in front of stores run by Carrefour, the French superstore chain, in several cities around the country.
Carrefour received special criticism because Chinese bloggers spread reports that its owners had donated money to India-based Tibetan exile groups run by the Dalai Lama. The firm's headquarters in Paris denied that was true, but the bloggers paid no heed.
Chinese Internet censors, who control what people say online, did nothing to dampen the fervor. And police, who prevent most demonstrations, blocked protesters from reaching the French Embassy in Beijing but otherwise allowed the outraged youths to vent their fury.
A Chinese woman working for The Washington Post was pushed around at one such demonstration by young Chinese men who suggested she should be careful about working with a foreign publication. An American man who showed up at another Carrefour store for some shopping was roughed up as well, perhaps on the mistaken assumption he was French.
In recent days, Chinese authorities have sought to pull back the nationalist tide. Editorials in the controlled press suggested to youths that carrying out their assigned tasks is the best way to demonstrate patriotism. Internet censors started blocking items with the word Carrefour.
Behind the public mood, however, has come a simultaneous tightening of security that officials say is likely to last until after the Games. It, too, has contributed to the change in atmosphere.
Foreign residents of the capital report that police have started checking their identification cards and passports with greater regularity, in some cases visiting homes and offices to do so. According to Chinese law, foreigners should always have their passports with them, but the rule has been allowed to lapse in recent years as the number of foreigners working here increased.
Some of the many foreigners working on multiple-entry business visas -- instead of the requisite work visas -- have found they cannot get a renewal until the fall, forcing them to leave the country and lose their jobs.
The Foreign Ministry declared it has made no changes in visa rules and seeks to facilitate travel to China. But travel agents in Hong Kong, backed up by chambers of commerce there, said multiple-entry business visas have been suspended and more documentation is required for short-stay business visas, which previously were granted on demand at the border between Hong Kong and Guangdong province.
Hong Kong itself has tightened visa rules, seeking to limit entry to foreigners who might be planning to stage protests when the torch returns to Chinese soil later this week.
But perhaps nowhere is the new mood more palpable than in Tibet, a premier tourist destination that has been closed off to foreigners since March 14. As a result of the ban, most foreign journalists have been barred from covering the torch relay through Tibet, including plans for a photogenic climb up Mount Everest. Nine foreign newspapers and broadcasters have been allowed in to cover part of the relay, but only for 10 days in a carefully shepherded trip.
The potential for the hysterically patriotic masses to go all cultural revolution on some johnny foreigner's arse is but a misinterpreted gesture away. The paranoia and over-reaction of one-party states are to be expected - it's just what they do. Their method of staying in control is actively keeping any opposition and potential opposition muted, harassed and ultimately, dead. They've done very well so far.
The one big advantage the Beijing regime has is the imperialist, racist chauvinism that the population seem to have. The arrogant colonial disdain many Han Chinese have towards the Tibetans would be an example of this.