Fawning journalists for weeks leading up to these Olympic games tried to convince us that the advent of the Chinese century had come upon us. Too many people, too many resources, too much to compete with.
Not long ago we got a glimpse of what Communist China was about. Tibetan protesters found themselves brutally beaten by Chinese police for daring to question the government. The Olympic shenanigans revealed much more. Chinese Communism suffers from a serious self-esteem problem.
What else explains their strange shenanigans? The lip syncing national anthem singer surprised a lot of people. It shouldn't have. Totalitarian societies from Nazi Germany to Soviet Russia put more of a premium on physical achievements and appearance. Crush a seven year old girl by telling her she is not cute enough to show the world? No problem. The fake fireworks displays were also a sad case of putting on an image to hide insecurity. The cheating in gymnastics reflects a culture accepting and even encouraging of corruption as long as it leads to desired ends. Because corruption encourages law breaking and greed, no society so saturated with it can ever advance too far.
The pollution, euphemistically called "haze" by some announcers, is much worse than one would see in a US city. Environmentalists warn that this is a view to the future if we do not radically change. In reality this is a look back in time. Communist governments do not have the same standards of clean air that capitalist democracies enjoy. We may not be perfect, but free market America produces more goods, more efficiently, with less waste and pollution than Communist China.
Worse for China is the massive amounts of empty seats shown at the games. Due to a fundamental misunderstanding of economics, they allowed scalpers to purchase large amounts of tickets to be sold again at very high prices. Tourists to the games cannot obtain tickets to even the most pedestrian events.
China's Olympic sized image problem has burst through the facade of progress. Any system that stifles individuality and steals from the productive to maintain the non productive will never compete effectively with real capitalist societies.