Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Beauty is in the Politics of the Beholder

China seems to be making a habit of trying to get an early jump on the Chutzpah of the Week awards. This week attention shifts from the Health Minister's take on the safety of food and products to the China Institute of City Competitiveness, a non-profit organization tasked with naming the most beautiful city in the country. The Institute has assigned this honor to Beijing, described by the Reuters report of this decision as "Dirty, polluted, congested and razed of many old buildings." Reuters chose its words well, since it cited a China Daily report on the Institute as a source of the criteria for "beauty:"

Institute chairman Gui Qiangfang said the assessment took into consideration Beijing's design, infrastructure, architecture, culture and natural beauty.

"Factors including the preservation of historical monuments, forest coverage, air quality, the transportation network, city life, public space and GDP were also considered," the newspaper said, with no hint of irony.

Presumably, the promotion of the city hosting next year's Olympics is more important than irony, even when the topic involves air that you can "cut with a knife" (in the words of one presentation I heard on doing business in China). So, if there is no irony, it must be chutzpah!

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