Agam's Gecko
Saturday, June 21, 2008

n Italian car advertisement is the latest example of the degree to which the recent displays of Chinese hyper-nationalist rage against certain foreign interests have created a degree of intimidation in the world.

Launching a new model -- the Delta -- under its Lancia line, automaker Fiat produced the following television ad (this is the 45 second version).

News of the ad campaign was reported in the Chinese media. If you can't, or don't have time to view the clip, Richard Gere gets into his new Delta on a Hollywood night and drives into the mountains. He arrives at dawn in Tibet. There is no political content.

Fiat Group apologized in a statement issued today:
"Fiat reiterates its neutrality in connection with any political matter, be it on a national or international basis," it said. "Fiat Group extends its apologies to the Government of the People's Republic of China and to the Chinese people."
I would like to know what those Chinese media reports said, to get Fiat so spooked as to issue a preemptive apology. Who has taken offence? Did any official letters reach Fiat? And why would anyone be offended at this?

There are a lot of delicate flowers in the Middle Kingdom, and it doesn't take much to get them started. The merest hint of a rumour recently made Carrefour into a target for sustained protests in China. These campaigns against those who unintentionally offended hyper-nationalists, are usually justified by claiming, "They hurt the feelings of the People of China."

When the PRC abuses another proud people for over half a century with rigid colonial rule, there isn't a passing thought about the hurt feelings of that People. Yet if anyone talks about these abuses, the Great Han Chauvinist will get offended on behalf of his people. Now, apparently, the mere visual depiction of that place is enough to ring his guilty conscience. Better apologize, just in case!

As Gere pulls up to the mountain temple, an old monk is seen briefly reflected in the car window.

I thought, "That even looks like him." Second viewing, closely watching, and it still seemed so. So I clipped a detail. There could be a resemblance, in 10 or 15 years. He doesn't appear to be that old of a man yet.

Which reminds me, Chinese leaders are making a big mistake in expecting him to depart soon. He outlasted Mao, Deng, Jiang, and he'll likely outlast Hu. He is the solution to their problems.

Or could this be the reason for the sudden skittishness of Fiat? Maybe the Chinese media reports were touting this as a brief subliminal message, portending His Holiness' eventual return to Tibet, and meeting his old friend there.

Otherwise, it's just showing happy young monks and beautiful scenery. Isn't that what the Chinese government is selling to tourists anyway?

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