Thursday, January 20, 2011

Micro-tells Expose Beijing’s Hostile Intentions and South Korea’s Weakness

     You may be wondering what a micro-tell is. A micro-tell is an unintended signal that—if noticed—can reveal hidden thoughts. A micro-tell differs from a tell in that it’s so brief or minute that it can easily escape detection, yet its message can be of great importance.
     Yes, I’ve borrowed the term from the study of body language.
     So what about those secretive critters known as politicians, who often hold the destiny of nations in their conspiratorial hands? They’re quite adept at hiding their intentions and their weaknesses when it comes to dealing with other nations, but their behavior in smaller matters can give them away.
     Hence, I’ve written this article about an obscure taekwondo competition in Guangzhou, China, on November 17 of last year.
     Many athletes at some time or other have had to “swallow” unfair rulings. The Yang Shu-chun incident, however, was thread that, once tugged a little, unraveled a tapestry of deceit and aggression of international proportions. At one end of the thread was that one, obscure event; at the other was my discovery of the degree to which South Korea has slipped under Beijing’s hegemony—as well as a strong indicator that “China’s peaceful rise” is a lie for temporary convenience.
     At the 2010 Asian games in Guangzhu on November 17, Taiwanese athlete Yang Shu-chun was favored to win a gold medal. On that date, she competed against the Vietnamese athlete T. H. Vu (Wu Shr Hou, in Chinese) in a taekwondo match in the 49 kg. category. If Yang had been allowed to win, her next and final competitor would have been a Chinese athlete.
There was just one problem: One of the two judges that day just happened to have been the Chinese athlete’s coach, a Mr. Chao. Hmmm. It already smells like a conflict of interest. With China hosting the event and the coach of a Chinese competitor judging the event, how would you think it turned out?
     Before the match, each competitor was testing the sensors on her socks. Because the technician claimed that Yang’s sensors weren’t working properly, she had to change socks. Because Yang’s feet were very small (22 ½ cm.), the only socks available to her were an older pair that will be allowed until July 2011.
     These socks had an extra sensor on each heel, which was promptly removed and placed on the floor beside Yang’s coach’s seat.
     A series of photos from the blog Applause for U picks up the story from there:
     The above-linked series of photos was taken from a video. Applause for U also features a You Tube video of the incident.
     With only 12 seconds remaining in the first round, Yang Shu-chun was ahead 9-to-0. Videos show that the Chinese coach stopped the match, walked over to where Yang’s coach sat, picked up the sensors from the floor, and claimed that he had removed them from Yang’s socks.      As obvious as the deception was, it was backed up by the Korean-based World Taekwondo Federation.
     Ordinarily, I’m not interested in spectator sports. If they enjoy their sport, it’s their lives and they’re free to live them as they see fit; but I’d rather live my life than watch someone else live his.
     I was, however, intrigued by the heavy hitters who went to bat for the Chinese even when videos clearly revealed that Yang had been cheated out of the victory that was rightfully hers. Why would the World Taekwondo Federation risk its credibility by obviously cheating in a competition they were sponsoring? The world at large would scarcely notice it, but athletes who have worked for years to get to the Asian Games would like to believe in the fairness of the system—unless they happened to be favored by referees who cheat on their behalf.
     As the Internet buzzed with still photos and videos showed that there were no sensors on Yang’s heel, and that the Chinese coach had picked them up from the floor, the World Taekwondo Federation website ran the headline “Shocking Act of Deception!” The “shocking” cheater, according to them, was Yang and not the Chinese coach.
     I teach a course in Journalism English to Taiwanese college students. I immediately gave them assignments in investigative journalism, trying to cover all bases.
     Are there any clear photos of Yang Shu-chun’s heel during the match? What would Korea gain by cheating on behalf of Beijing? Has Korea cheated on behalf of Beijing before? I was assuming that, for an international sports organization to stoop to the level of the World Taekwondo Federation there must be weighty reasons for their obvious and shocking acts of deceit. Also, for Korea’s cheating on Beijing’s behalf to be meaningful, Beijing would have to welcome it or even encourage it. Does Beijing itself have a record of cheating in international athletic events?
     Most of the teams came through with flying colors. Here are the links to the simulated “newspapers” that they created for the course:

     My students were unable to find any information about Beijing cheating without outside help; and they were unable to find information as to South Korea’s motive in cheating on behalf of Beijing. No matter; I found both after about 10 minutes of searching.
     According to the article “China stripped of 2000 gymnastics medal for underage athlete,” dated April 28, 2010, the answer is, “Yes.” Details of the article reveal that Chinese cheating in athletic events is so pervasive, and at such high levels, that much of their cheating (such as producing fake passports can be carried out only with high-level government assistance. 
     Gangster regimes, lacking the legitimacy that comes with the consent of the governed, seek legitimacy wherever they can get it—even if they have to steal it.
At the 1938 Olympics in Munich, Hitler sought ratification of his “super race” fantasy. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union entered some decidedly masculine-looking entrants in women’s weightlifting competitions. Now it’s Beijing, with its Middle Kingdom fantasy pumped up with a narcissic craving for “great nation status.”
     What about South Korean motives for cheating on Beijing's behalf?
     The following article in the Chosunilbo (an English-language, on-line Korean newspaper, dated December 17, 2007) reveals that South Korean legislators are concerned that their government too often tries to “curry favor with China.” The title of the article reveals a motive for cheating on Beijing’s behalf: “It's Principles vs. Profits in Dealing With China.” (sic)
     In the final paragraph, we read, “Fifteen years after the establishment of ties with China, South Korea leads the world in investment in China and the number of students studying there, and it is concentrating more on China than ever before. But unlike the German case, South Korean politicians and diplomats are always trying to curry favor with China.”
     So, there we have it; but what exactly do we have? We have strong circumstantial evidence that South Korea, losing confidence in America’s promises of security, is slipping under Beijing’s hegemony.
     We also have concrete evidence that “China’s peaceful rise” is just a façade. We can discern a nation’s intentions with regard to other nations by observing their treatment of individuals in those nations. Beijing was willing to call upon the resources of one of the most powerful nations on Earth—China—in order to gain bragging rights in a sports competition that would soon be forgotten.
     With Beijing, that’s nothing new. Only a few months ago, they called upon their resources in a childish attempt to deny one of their citizens—a blogger—a Nobel Peace Prize. In the process, they showed astonishing ignorance of how the Nobel Committee actually operated. They imprisoned the blogger for stating facts that Beijing dared not refute, and denied his family the freedom of receiving the prize.
     Going back to March 31, 1994, Chinese soldiers robbed and murdered 31 Taiwanese tourists in what has become known as the Lake Qiandao (pronounced Chiendao) Incident. After weeks of claiming that the tourists had died in a boating accident, Beijing arrested three civilians for the crime. That’s right: In a gun control zealot’s paradise, three people supposedly robbed and murdered 31 people. To this day, Beijing has never given an accounting of what had happened.
     During the Cold War, the Soviet Union often did that sort of thing to American citizens just to show that they could get away with it; it demonstrated their power and America’s weakness. Like a dog returning to its vomit, Beijing appears to be doing the same thing.
So much for great nation status. So much for China’s “peaceful rise.”
     Oh, please allow me to conclude on a cheerful note.  Yang Shu-chun returned to a hero's welcome in Taiwan.  Taiwan's national government is pursuing the issue all the way to an international sport arbitration in Switzerland.  A fan in Taiwan ordered a "gold" medal struck for Yang, and the maker of the medal charged only for the materials that went into it.  Yang's boyfriend proposed marriage to her in front of the news media.  She replied, "Don't talk foolishness.  My parents are present."



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