We were right. The Olympic Bible ban controversy would spill over. And it has, in a most unbelievably crazy fashion. More ill-informed Christian and Catholic news media have given legs to the story. Somewhere along the way, the rumour became a fact, and a debate has made its way to the hallowed halls of the US Congress! Senator Lindsey Graham has made a complete idiot of himself by calling up the Chinese Ambassador to the US, Zhou Wenzhong, and complained about the supposed Bible ban. Congressman Thaddeus McCotter has urged President Bush to reconsider US attendance at the Games. This quote from McCotter is classic: “As the world stumbles toward the communist propaganda extravaganza labeled the Beijing Olympics, somewhere Chairman Mao is looking up at us and laughing.” Meanwhile, some Olympic spokesperson in Beijing has stepped out to clarify that Bibles and other religious items for personal use (but not for proselytisation) are welcome at the Games, but even his words were twisted into a “China warns visitors not to bring more than one copy of the Bible” story. Congressman McCotter presses on with his case by asking Bush, “Mr President how many Bibles will you be taking to Beijing? Will you visit the five bishops and 15 priests imprisoned for opposing the Communist regime’s official church? No good government denies God’s presences.” Sigh. Shame on you, Thaddeus McCotter. Shame on you, Lindsey Graham. And shame on you, La Gazetta and Catholic News Agency!
Tony Blair is back in town for a tour of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Beijing. And he clearly knows how to make butter up the Chinese officials with all the lovely things they want to hear. Among some of the earth-shattering statements Blair made in an address entitled From Greatness to Brilliance were, “China is a very special country, and has a special place in the heart of my family,” “Reform is not easy. During my ten years as PM, I attempted many major reforms, but I regret to say many were not accepted by everyone,” and the revelation that his seven year old son is learning Mandarin. The Chinese media is not lapping it up, though. The Guangdong Daily found out that Blair was paid 500,000 dollars for his China tour and the China Youth Daily has launched a stinging attack, saying his speech was “full of pleasantries, cliches and platitudes about the importance of collaboration between government and business, education and the environment, but failed to provide any new insights.” “Is the country to become a market where international celebrities come digging for gold?” the paper asked. “We should exercise less ostentation and vanity. We need more genuinely fresh knowledge – especially when we are spending the taxpayers’ pennies.”