13 Aug 2008

Microsoft Ruined China's Big Show

I just picked up on Matt Asay's post about some windows machine that crashed during the Beijing Olympics. At the pivotal moment when the torch carrier descended down from top of the stadium, someone caught a picture of the blue screen of death.
Here is the "perfect picture" of the event:

What makes this picture even funnier for me is that I was in Beijing for a long time prior to the Olympics and noticed how frantically they were preparing for it.
Some points I'd like to mention about just how seriously the Chinese government took the Olympics:

1) They kicked out 75% of the foreigners from China. Tourists and business visit visas were barely issued half a year before the Olympics. Students were told to come after the Olympics and were denied student visas. Only people who had jobs from big companies were able to stay and even that was extremely difficult to get visa for with all the mysterious new documents needed. Some guy needed his birth certificate and the birth certificate of his mother to prove the relationship between them.
2) So few foreigners were allowed to come into China that the Tourism Board of China officially complained to the government about the low turn out. Hotels (except in Beijing) had to drastically lower costs and sack staff. In Beijing itself, hotel prices were so high that foreigners decided not to book the rooms and hotels are now half empty. Just to prove the point, please watch the Olympics on TV a few times and count how many foreign faces are in the crowd. There have been rumors that people in the stadium grabbed Chinese people off the street and put them in empty seats to make the stadium look full.
3) The government made the Chinese people's lives bad as well. They kicked out any non-Beijinger from Beijing, especially all the workers from poorer provinces. They checked every person carrying bags in the subway some weeks before the Olympics. There was a story about a guy that carried a case of beer in the subway that the guard told him to open every bottle and drink from it to see that its not poisonous.

Not to mention spend billions and billions of dollars on building 2 new stadiums, 5-7 additional railway lines, extra hotels, extra buildings... all for the Olympics and all to show the world how much of a super power they are. And now this picture..

If I were the head of Microsoft in China, I would litterally leave the country right now, change my name and live in a cave for the next 5 years.

(P.S. if I sound bitter, its because I was there when all the foreigners were under scrutiny.)
(P.P.S. don't buy any Chinese Olympic toys. They break in 2 months. Really, they do)