It’s been an honor to be in Beijing during the Olympic Games, and to experience the sheer pride and joy, the great success – and the wonderful hospitality.
Even in these days afterwards, a great friendliness and happiness is wonderfully apparent.
It’s been a slow motion eye-opener spending so much time in Beijing and Shanghai over the last couple of years … and especially learning the almost total disconnect between the China you experience while you’re here, and what gets reported in the Western media.
Whether it’s about the quality of life in the major China cities, the advanced and accelerating quality of infrastructure and expertise, participation in the political processes, regional autonomies, or China’s commitment to peaceful development, most of the obdurate repetitions of the Western media are quite wrong, often willfully so.
One of the things that rankles most is the stupid idea that China is only capable of copying. Nothing could be further from the truth – in art, technology, and business, China is a cornucopia of invention and creativity. Above all, as so many Chinese people will warmly tell you, you must “come and see for yourself”, and yes, you must accept the invitation and get involved with these historic developments.
If there’s one phrase that encapsulates the West’s current attitude of supercilious superiority towards China, it’s “respect for intellectual property”. I read a lot, and I read about this all the time.
So you can imagine my hilarity when the London Olympics 2012 segment of the Closing Ceremony took place. The centerpiece of this hand-over to the future featured Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, the legendary guitarist from the most famous rock band ever in the West, launching into the song that made their entire career, and will always summarize them: “Whole Lotta Love”.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s no bigger fan of Led Zeppelin than me … it’s just that “Whole Lotta Love” isn’t Led Zeppelin’s song – they stole it.
It took 20 years – but eventually Led Zeppelin settled out of court with the original songwriter, the mighty American blues genius, Willie Dixon.
You may also be interested in hearing a whole lotta other songs that Led Zeppelin “borrowed”.
The next time I read about London’s leadership in the creative industries, the respect for intellectual property, and the prospects of London Olympics 2012 – well, just say I'll be “dazed and confused”!
Oh yes – that dreaded Chinese phenomenon of “censorship of artistic expression” has apparently spread to the London Games already.
There is no natural resource on Earth in more abundant supply than Western hypocrisy.