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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Cub Scout splittists

March 20, 2008
Posted by Ichabod, March 17, 2008

We can always count on China. Just when the place seems filled with
normal people going about their happy business, the government reminds
us that its paranoia reaches every aspect of our lives.

Take the baseball game in Beijing last Saturday. It was the first in
China between two American pro teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the
San Diego Padres. Even though the contest was an exhibition, it was
historic. Baseball is America's national pastime because it's a link
between generations and a touchstone of the nation's culture. That
baseball wants to extend to China, that China welcomes the game, and
that 12,000 baseball fans could gather in a stadium on a lovely spring
day, are all signs of harmony under heaven.

One especially excited group was Cub Scout Pack 3944, which is comprised
mostly of Beijing-resident American kids under the age of 10. About
fifty of them arrived at the game in blue uniforms bedecked with
American flags and merit badges, accompanied by their den mothers and
scout masters. The night before, they'd learned that the Dodgers had
invited them onto the field after the game to meet the players.

But just before the game, the Haidian district police barred the scouts
from the field. Why? Because thousands of kilometers away, in the
Himalayas, monks and others in Tîbet had launched protests against
Chinese rule. The government apparently feared that the young Americans
would use their moment on the grassy infield to agitate for Tîbetan
independence. This fear that a pack of cub scouts would politicize a
baseball game drove the government to politicize the event more
effectively than any Tîbetan splittist could hope for, and disappointed
a group of bright-eyed kids in the process.

Don't worry too much about the Cub Scouts – they had a grand time
anyway, and the Dodgers dispatched a couple of players into the stands
afterward to sign autographs. But it's worth considering the thoughts
that went through the heads of the Haidian district police.

Your correspondent suspects they ran something like this: Tîbet is in
turmoil. Foreigners support Tîbet. Foreigners want to embarrass China.
If foreigners embarrass China on our watch, we'll lose our jobs. So we'd
better assume the worst of these foreigners, even if that means taking
some fun out of the game.

For those of you who thought China could pull off a great Olympics, the
exhibition on Saturday was cause for pause.
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