Monday, August 11, 2008

Chinese Dissemulation

I'm shocked I tell you, shocked.
Some Opening Ceremony fireworks were faked
The faked fireworks were actually set-off at the stadium, but because of potential dangers in filming the display live from a helicopter, viewers at home were shown a pre-recorded, computer-generated shot. It sounds dishonest, but I'm not sure it's such a terrible thing.
"Sounds dishonest"? It is dishonest. Whether it's terrible depends upon whether you care or not about the honesty of the Chinese government.

Then there is this:
Beijing Scrambles to Host 'Green Games'
However, an American scientist, Steven Andrews, noticed that two monitoring stations were removed from locations where there is a high volume of traffic and three new ones were set up at locations where pollution levels are lower. Andrews also found out that the pollution standards were secretly lowered, that changes were made with regard to substances being measured, and that some substances, such as ozone, were simply not measured at all.
And this:
Beijing Olympics: British smog-monitoring unit ordered to close down

But on Friday, the day of the opening ceremony, the quarter of Beijing in which the Olympic Green is situated was coloured green on the map, marking an air pollution index (API) of 101-150. The government's safe limit is 100, and the city authorities' figures put the API at 95.

The reason for the "green" colour was high levels of particulates, known as PM10. Again, while the online map gave a fail for the Olympic Green, the figures for the nearest monitoring station in Beijing showed a pass.

Later on Friday afternoon, subscribers to the website received an email saying the site would no longer be visible by password.

"I am very sorry to have to let you know that at the request of our Chinese partners in this project we are unable to provide public access to the Beijing Air Quality forecasts during the Olympic Games period," the email said.

Clearly there is a history and pattern of dishonesty on the part of the Chinese government. Maybe it's not terrible, but we do need to recognize in dealing with them that if they lie about little things like pollution levels and fireworks to suit their goals how much more likely they are to lie about important things: Trust little, verify much.

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