In a couple of weeks Beijing will turn into a party town and Sanlitun is predicted to be the epicenter of the Olympic night events. The South China Morning Post has however reported that the bar owners in the area were asked to refuse service to black patrons. The article reports:
Bar owners near the Workers’ Stadium in central Beijing say they have been forced by Public Security Bureau officials to sign pledges agreeing not to let black people enter their premises.
“Uniformed Public Security Bureau officers came into the bar recently and told me not to serve black people or Mongolians,” said the co-owner of a western-style bar, who asked not to be named.
We checked twice just to make sure: This story comes from the SCMP and not The Onion … in 2008 … as the world awaits the ultra-harmonious “One World, One Dream” Olympics. Did you hear that? That was the sound of our jaw dropping.
But something about this report doesn’t gel. Could this possibly be true? Could it possibly be enforced? Given the strong national ties that China has built with African nations in the last two years coupled with the fact that many Olympic athletes (and their families) hail from African descent — not to mention that such a policy would be despicable and horrendous PR for a country looking to improve its image — it sounds like, perhaps, some racist in the Beijing government went out on his own on this one.
We hope strong denials from Beijing are in the works.
Will Kobe Bryant (pictured) be barred from enjoying a celebratory drink in Beijing?
UPDATE: More on the Beijing bar ban confusion