If you Google “China” or “Olympics” on any given day in recent months, with the exception of the few weeks China was stricken by deadly earthquakes, you will be overwhelmed by the shower of negative coverage from the mainstream Western media against China and its hosting of 2008 Beijing Olympics.
For months leading up to the Beijing Games, China media clic has been put under the Western microscope with accusations and complaints against the country and its government sweeping across all terrains, from big political issues such as Tibet, human rights, protest rights, press and religious freedom; to social problems including air pollution, government relocation of Beijing residents; to conspiracy stories about special visual effects of the opening ceremony and ultra performance of Chinese athletes; and to more trivial displeasures about losing a pair of expensive sunglasses, difficulties to access Olympic Green, English standard of volunteers, and over-eagerness of residents to help the foreigner visitors. The list goes on and on.
As if that is not enough, an NBC correspondent went on a live TV hunt for Chinese foods in Beijing. Let’s take a look at what she found: giant scorpions, lizards, silk worms, seahorses, iguana tails and dung beetles. Other Western reportors also cited rabbit head, pig brain and animal penis. Being a native of Beijing with 20 plus years of living there and a food lover myself, I have little knowledge where to look for these exotic things, not to mention ever eating them. Come on, China has a civilization of 5,000 years – Western reporters can’t be seriously thinking about portraying the Chinese as barbaric aboriginals or man-eating cannibals, right?
In fact, Dave Barry of Miami Herald admitted to a blog “beijingboyce.com” that “The Chinese people I saw all seemed to be buying things like lamb kebabs and fruit. On the other hand, the people gathered around the centipedes and scorpions on a stick were, in almost every case, tourists or American TV reporters doing fun features on weird Chinese food…. The Chinese don’t eat scorpions. They feed their scorpions to TV reporters. I would not be surprised to learn that the Chinese word for scorpion is “TV reporter food.”
Granted, China is not completely innocent from many of the aforementioned allegations and criticisms, but it is neither an evil host which deserves no credit at all. As the world’s fastest growing economy and one of the world’s most ancient civilizations, there has got to be something positive to report on.
You can be easily frustrated, however, if you are looking to read something more positive or, at the least, constructive about the country and its hospitable people. Sure, there is always the official Xinhua News or China Daily one can read for a change, but any praise from self-proclaimed independent and objective mainstream Western media is surprisingly hard to come by.
Meanwhile, for average Westerners, it is hard not to be misled by the drowning negative coverage on China. A homemaker in the US told reporters that she does not want to “legitimize the Chinese government” by supporting the Beijing Olympics.” Didn’t President Bush just open a bigger US Embassy there? What are we talking about here exactly? I am as puzzled as an Atlanta man who demanded an online answer for not seeing Russian tanks there.
As much as I disagree with President George W. Bush on many things, I have to applaud his recent TV interview in Beijing with NBC in which he stressed that the US and China as two very different countries and cultures are bound to have agreements and disagreements on a range of things, but it is important to have a constructive relationship which will help each other communicate disagreements.
Wow, how I wish that he had possessed this wisdom before starting the Iraq war – lives of estimated 1.2 million Iraqis and 5,000 US soldiers could have been saved.
Should the 2008 Olympics be awarded to Beijing in the first place?
Although the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games is coming up in a matter of few days, the arguments surrounding if IOC had made a mistake in letting China host the 2008 Olympics and if China had fulfilled its relevant promises seem to have just started.
Why pick a heavily-polluted country that is dictated by “free market Stalinists” which suppresses human rights, religion and press? China broke its promises to IOC for all of these areas, charges the mainstream Western media.
However, according to the IOC, its mission is “to build a peaceful and better world in the Olympic Spirit which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play – Olympic Spirit strives to inspire and motivate the youth of the world to be the best they can be through educational and entertaining interactive challenges. Olympic Spirit seeks to instill and develop the values and ideals of Olympism in those who visit and to promote tolerance and understanding in these increasingly troubled time in which we live, to make our world a more peaceful place.”
Does China deserve to be awarded the hosting right of Olympics? Apparently, the Chinese people said a loud “yes”. The whole world witnessed how much grass-root support China got from its people when it applied for and won the hosting right of the event.
As a country with more than one fifth of the world’s population – should it not be given a chance to host one of the many games? With 1.3 billion people not represented, can any Olympic Games truly promote its mission of “building a peaceful and better world with mutual understanding”? That is why the IOC made its decision and it is undoubtedly a correct one.
By comparison, I have serious doubts if the mainstream Western media truly understands and honors the spirit of Olympics – questioning China’s legitimacy to host such an international event only gives away its arrogance, self-righteousness, entitlement and cultural supremacy in international affairs.
If the mainstream Western media is still the true believer of human rights and continues to uphold the universal belief that “all men are created equal”, it should acknowledge the birthright of any country including China, for hosting the Olympic Games.
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