FROM General Administration of Press and Publication, Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China
TO All organs of the National Press
Greetings, faithful steward of information!
On this auspicious day, this day of mighty augury, replete with the promise of the lucky number “8,” we commence the noble proceedings that will most certainly not be remembered by all the world as the Clusterfuck Olympics, Worst Idea Ever, Historic Environmental/Sporting Disaster, etc.
Beijing is ready! The air sparkles with asbestos crystals, mighty industrial hoses are sluicing the public toilets, and in the Olympic Village, the apartment buildings that fell down last night have already been rebuilt. All dissent has now been neutralized! Four million pollution-producing vehicles have been impounded. The embargo against hair-dryer use continues to be energetically enforced. And the People’s Internet remains secure — the glorious firewall whose protective coils encircle our Republic like those of the celestial dragon Tianlong will never be breached, never!
What, you ask, can you do? What is your part in this magnificent popular effort? Read this handout carefully, comrade. Read it again, even more carefully. As the “eyes of the world” turn upon China, you have an important role to play! “No news is good news,” says the American. He is incorrect. All news is good news, and the Republic looks to you, as a state-approved news propagator, to draw the attention of our international guests to the famous “silver lining.”
No doubt by now it has not rained upon the opening ceremonies, drowning the occasion in sulphurous yellow-dog precipitation that raises a strange foam upon the scalp. Thanks to the preventive actions of our farseeing Weather Modification Program, whose stirring and masculine arsenal of silver-iodide rockets already will have been fired into the looming clouds to “empty” them, such an eventuality will assuredly have been avoided!
But if not, it will be your job as a journalist/news outlet to emphasize the distinctively Chinese character of the ensuing downpour — its plum-scented richness and softness, and its hygienic properties! The choreographed appearance of 80,000 government-issue umbrellas will also be splendid beyond imagining. All press officers have been issued with a copy of “Rain,” by our great seventh-century poet To Fu: “Bright drops descend/Lacing with jewels my lonely pomegranate bush./ Generous heavens,/ Send this old man a bride, will you? Damn!” For your convenience, the poem has been translated into 47 languages.
Certainly, too, there will have been no interference or disruption from enemies of the people. No one, for example, will have unfurled an enormous illegal banner protesting the PRC’s benign and fatherly policy in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Not a single member of the execrated sex cult Falun Gong will have flung himself imploringly at a visiting dignitary, nor will the smallest bomb have been detonated by the Muslim fanatics currently making their last stand in our Western provinces. Should a disturbance of this nature occur, however, it should be ascribed to “high spirits.” In the West, sporting events are regularly brought to a halt by frivolous persons with no clothes on, or by outbreaks of nationalistic song — make mention of this!
A word or two about foreign journalists. The Westerner is suggestible, sensation-based, without discipline: his mind is a rider-less horse. But do not think that he can be easily manipulated! For he is also suspicious, like a beast. He lacks the Chinese citizen’s suave and pragmatic attitude toward misinformation — regarding it indeed not as an adjunct to effective government, but rather as a trespass upon his right to have an opinion about everything. You are advised therefore against excessive “spin.” Much better is diversion: do not deny the journalist his petty ration of fact, but immediately draw his attention to something else, something that reflects more properly the glory of our Republic!
If, for example, he asks what will happen when the locusts currently ravaging the grasslands of Inner Mongolia run out of grass and start moving toward Beijing, point out in an unflustered manner that every cab driver in the city now speaks perfect English and can, moreover, recite the entire King James Bible from memory! Or again, should he press you upon the rumor that a single portion of our succulent factory-farmed chicken is enough to make an athlete fail his steroids test, remark casually that Beijing’s new anti-spitting ordinance has produced a dramatic reduction in noise pollution. You will discover how quickly the Western mind is paralyzed by a non sequitur!
A final note: in the event of total systemic, cultural, and ecological breakdown (you will hear the sirens), you are invited to the newly reinforced Tower of Table Tennis in the Fangzhuang district. Light refreshment will be served on the 73rd floor, where our sleek and amphibious Olympic water-polo team will perform scenes from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro while beneath us the city smothers in pollution, burns with insurrection, and suffers the predation of insects. Only the strong will survive — and we have their medals prepared!
Our best wishes, esteemed news-bearer. Good luck. Obey. Show initiative only where appropriate. And don’t miss your deadlines.
James Parker, who once pole-vaulted the Great Wall, can be reached email@example.com.