The Olympics begin in August, and they're in China, so, you know, it should be a rather fascinating world event, if you're into fascinating world events. And we are proud to welcome back our Deadspin Beijing Bureau, our own trio of correspondents living in China and reporting on everything they see, Olympics related and otherwise.
The South China Morning Post caused quite a commotion last week when they published a story citing anonymous bar owners who claimed that they had been instructed by officials to bar Blacks and Mongolians from entering their… bar. In case you missed it, the SCMP came back with a measured response to the public outcry and denials by the Public Security Bureau, this time citing an anonymous police officer. Some of our favorite China blogs (Shanghaiist, Danwei and Beijing Boyce) have been all over this, but we’ll offer you our humble opinion on the matter.
As you might have put together already, there has never been a host city so concerned with its public image and perception; so much so, Beijing has issued a novella-length handbook on how locals should converse with foreigners and the, um, handicapped. In a similar vein, Beijing is cracking down big-time on drug dealing and prostitution – things that go on in most cities and tend to escalate when as many as 500,000 people come to visit. It happens that around Sanlitun - the area mentioned in the articles - there are loads of Africans selling, often indiscreetly, hash and coke outside clubs. Last September there was a "raid" in Sanlitun where paramilitary police rolled out of vans and basically beat the crap out of every black person on the street — including the son of a Caribbean diplomat. Whoops. They arrested 20-30 people but didn't charge anyone with anything; it seems they just wanted to send a message: You can't sling here anymore, fellas.
Now, Mongolian girls – along with Russians & Chinese – make up a certain percentage of the prostitutes and bar girls in Beijing, especially at Maggie's, which is like the Yankee Stadium of whore mongering and john-in-action voyeurism in the capital. Maggie's has been around for a while and supposedly had some Public Security Bureau protection, which is why people were surprised when it was recently shut down.
Beijing is serious about street-level enforcement of trafficking and prostitution (if you don’t see it on the street it doesn’t happen!) and this affects some Africans and Mongolians who, accurately or not, are profiled by police as perpetrators of these two vices.
That said, if there was indeed a directive issued concerning blacks and Mongolians it was probably more like: “Don't let African drug dealers or Mongolian prostitutes into your bar,” a statement echoed by some interviews done by our man Beijing Boyce. We’re not sure what this would mean for blacks or reputable Mongolians in Beijing, many of whom already deal with some not-so-subtle racism from the locals. So it’s not that we question a disregard for racial sensitivity; there’s certainly that. After all, there is enough information available that leads us to believe enforcement figures approached bars and told the owners to monitor their black and Mongolian patrons. We just don’t think that any secret, official ban was issued.
Pending the latest revelations of the SCMP’s anonymous sources, there are a few other noteworthy Chinese news items:
China has designated special protest zones in the city where hippies freedom crusaders can bravely advocate their causes and completely blow their cover.
And smoking is totally ok (from the Times):
“Smoking with one hand and wielding a pair of chopsticks with the other, Li Na, 26, a secretary, was unapologetic as her 2-year-old son sat next to her at a restaurant here enveloped in a bluish haze. "If you overprotect your children, they don't build their immunity," she explained. "Breathing a little smoke when they are small makes them stronger."
Remember, you can email the Deadspin Beijing Bureau at Deadspin.China@gmail.com