The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Thanks to some volunteer teaching I’ve been doing for Beijing’s Olympics volunteers I got invited to the rehearsal of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. Inside the stadium was at 90,000 capacity for two hours of set piece acts which trumpeted traditional Chinese culture. There was very little reference to Mao or Communism in the two hours of kung fu, drumming and elaborately choreographed dances. In fact the recital of imperial-era poems and songs seemed to me a repudiation of the whole Communist era, which has generally sought to portray the past as a  period of bourgeoise inequality , superstition and excess.

That has not been lost on the leadership in Beijing, who, according to the whispers going around are very annoyed that Communism isn’t more celebrated in the opening ceremonies. Olympic organizers gave the job of directing the ceremonies to film director Zhang Yimou and Steven Spielberg – who pulled out in protest at China’s relations with the Darfur-abusing Sudanese government. Anyone who’s watched Zhang films like Raise the Red Lantern will know he’s someone who celebrates traditional culture and pomp of the ancient Chinese imperial courts.

The stadium is probably the most futuristic of its kind: the silver ‘twigs’ of the Bird’s Nest wrapping around the red hardware like electrons. Landscaping is laboured in the usual Chinese style: plants, trees, grass transplanted from other provinces and pumped with water to bloom in dry Beijing. There’s several original and olde world recreations of traditional Chinese buildings in the Olympic park, which hasn’t yet been opened to the general public. I’m keen to see how all this pristine nature and cute park benches will be maintained once the masses are let in here.


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Nuggets from our archive

2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.