Aug 10

The Olympics Demonstrate China’s “Soft Power”: on Baloney and Silliness.

Written by bianxiangbianqiao on Sunday, August 10th, 2008 at 6:17 pm
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Watching the NBC broadcast of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing gave me a sleepless night. Something about the ceremony and the games bothered me. I had to think it trough.

What do you make of the following features of the Opening Ceremony?

More than eighty heads of states and their spouses (half of the world’s total) sat in the intense heat and murkiness of the Beijing evening, to watch a show of Chinese history which was uninformative and completely biased to its glory, put together by the communist propaganda apparatus.

President George W. Bush was there with his family in suit and tie, despite strong advice against it from John MacCaine, Nancy Pelosi, Mia Farrow Fallows, [CORRECTION: The highly respected journalist Fallows seems a bit concerned to be confused with Ms. Farrow. Sorry James. – DJ] and probably his own conscience.

The French president was the biggest loser in the crowd. Having made it clear to the world that he intended to boycott the Beijing Olympics, he amicably slipped into his seat in the Chinese National Stadium with his tail between his legs. The Chinese Central Television gave him quite some close-ups; the message was subtle but clear. “The words of the President of the Republic of France have no value. Don’t trust him even if he tells you that coal is black and snow is white.”

The cheers and applauses each nation received, especially the loud-mouthed boycotters, from the Chinese audience during the March of the Nations, carried interesting messages. What was the Chinese cheering for when team France, team Germany and team USA marched in (wink, wink, wink)?

American cyclists flew to Beijing for the games despite the pollution. They were keenly aware of the detrimental impact on their heath and performance, putting on facial masks even before they left the airport.

Where did Steven Spielberg sit during the ceremony? What were his thoughts about the show?

I started to feel grateful; maybe China owes the world a “thank you”. Then I had a second thought. The congregation of the world’s Celebrities of Political Power DESPITE the strong forces holding them back demonstrates China’ Soft Power, not the world’s charity or fondness for the Chinese.

Power is the capacity to induce compliance, to make others do your biding. The ability to induce compliance in your competitors, detractors, or even better, your enemies, to make them bend backwards to accommodate your needs, demonstrates your power. Their protest is an index of your power; the louder the protest, the more clearly you know you are prevailing and frustrating them. The violent protests that disrupted the Olympic Torch Relay throughout the Caucasian World (Europe, Australia and North America) never induced “humiliation” in me, nor did the “Genocide Olympics” t-shirts and banners. Instead, they stirred a feeling of invigoration combined with a Cheap Thrill.

Soft power is the ability to persuade and influence others with one’s culture, values and ideas, instead of coercion (does anyone have the correct citation?). Presumably soft power induces compliance without drawing protest.

Then the Western protest led me to a third thought. The concept of “soft power” is baloney. China did not attract the political celebrities to the Opening Ceremony with its culture, value or ideas. There is no such a thing as “soft power”. The only power recognized in this world comes from Money and Guns, just like in the drug trade of America’s inner cities. The Chinese establishment has come a long way to acquire this wisdom. The Confucius elite who had run China for thousands of years with their “culture” never got it. Chinaman Mao got half of the wisdom; “political rights come from the gun barrel.” It took another 40 years of PRC until Deng Xiaoping got the other half; “to be rich is glorious.” Are you still wondering why Mao and Deng are revered by the Chinese despite their flaws? Culture and ideas are useful only in so far as they help you generate more money to make or buy bigger guns and other goodies. The Olympics are indeed China’s “coming out party”. It celebrates China’s beginning to master the combined power of Money and Guns. The eighty some heads of states bore witness to this achievement at the National Stadium in Beijing on the evening of 08, 08, 2008, with profuse sweating and pungent body odor.

In the Western eye, Dalai Lama has a lot more culture and better ideas than President Hu Jintao (our 胡哥). His culture bought him a few meals and photo ops at the White house and in Hollywood and lip service to his Free Tibet, but nothing substantial. Even His Holiness’ supernatural connection with a previous life and threat to stop reincarnating did not help. When the Olympics opened, the World’s Leaders abandoned him for Hu Jintao (胡哥).

Having thought through the issue of power in the opening ceremony, I still could not sleep. There is something profoundly silly about the Olympics. Many silly things have been said by the political figures over the world (not just the French president and German Chancellor and Nancy Pelosi) on behalf of their countries. I myself have posted more stupid and vulgar remarks on the internet about the Olympics and “the West” than on any topic in my adult life. I often got the feeling that I had been transplanted back to my old days of chanting SB and NB at the Workers Stadium, as a hooligan and a jackass combined in one. At times I seriously worried about how low my mental life would go. The Olympics have made me (and many others) stupid, with its silly concepts like “soft power” and “one world, one dream”. Before I started posting stuff on the internet about the Olympics exactly a year ago, my literary pursuit was Chinese poetry. I posted teasers of my virgin collection (断雨集) but the response has been very disappointing so far. Many people are interested in the Olympics but have no time for poetry. Maybe things will change after the Olympics. I hope I can move back to my more refined hobbies and receive more support in those endeavors. Sports events are silly; they make everybody stupid.

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104 Responses to “The Olympics Demonstrate China’s “Soft Power”: on Baloney and Silliness.”

  1. ChinkTalk Says:

    An excellent article posted in the Globe and Mail – wonder what is your opinion on it.


  2. DalaiMamaFREETIBET Says:

    I’ve been trying raise awareness in “the West” of issues with the pro-Tibet movement and China-bashing. I’ve done this by posting Youtube videos with stupid and misleading titles to trick as many people as I can into watching them.


    I know this is immature…but it really bothers me how un-P.C. and “brainwashed Commie” it is to be critical of the Dalai Lama. Am I wasting my time?

  3. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    Thanks for the link. I will check it out and report back. But get a new name please. Just kidding.


    Thanks for the link. I have not seen them yet. But you are not wasting your time, as long as you are doing something that is rewarding and gratifying for yourself.

  4. MutantJedi Says:

    The games make us silly because we spend so much time thinking about the profound consequence of letting some guys run 100m or some such thing. Because that activity is simple, thought strives to make it complex. Soon we have imaginations seeing fascists in school children.

    The games have started. The Opening Ceremony went without a hitch. Forget about the politics. Ignore the rabble. Enjoy the games.

    I was impressed with Michael Phelps fantastic swim.

    I’m hoping not to miss Luan Jujie’s first match. She is taking on a girl 30 years younger than herself.

    I like this quote from that article:

    Many critics do not understand that the real agent of change in China is neither foreigners nor the Chinese government. The Chinese people are the forces that move China forward. The media should refrain from portraying them as passive and ignorant followers of a Communist dictatorship or as a mass of nationalistic and xenophobic robots lacking in independent judgment.

  5. bianxiangbianqiao Says:


    “Because that activity is simple, thought strives to make it complex.”
    On the one hand I agree with you that the sports competitions are indeed simple. On the other hand, I think there is more than sports in the Olympics. Otherwise why did all the heads of states showed up in Beijing, despite the outcry in their home countries?

  6. Charles Liu Says:

    What soft power? Did you notice the little boy next to Yao Ming? His flag was upside down.

    Anyway, the story of this little boy working himself out of the rubble and went back to save his schoolmates, for some reason wasn’t in the western media for a long time. I had to find out by watching the Olympics. This really reinforces my belief good news in China don’t sell.

  7. rocking offkey Says:

    This post went overboard. The soft power is that, through the minds of people. The raw power is there also.

  8. rocking offkey Says:

    correction: The soft power is there.

  9. MutantJedi Says:

    Well… bianxiangbianqiao…

    Because it would be stupid to stay away. And yes, that means I think Stephen Harper (PM of Canada) is stupid for not showing up. But then, I really don’t want to get started on what I really think of the Conservative Party, aside from a quip that it is little more than the christian fundamentalist Reform Party repackaged as Tories.

    The 2008 Olympic games has got to be one of the top 10 social/political events of the decade. In terms of relationship building, this is an event not to be seen snubbing, especially after the other events of 2008 in China. So in the end, it doesn’t really matter what the little save-the-whalers types yip and squawk about. What does matter is that the world, through its political leaders, recognize China.

    I wouldn’t be too hard on the French President. In the end, he did what he had to do – show up.

    The pick between the Dalai Lama and Hu Jintao is not much of a head scratcher. The only value of the Dalai Lama to the Western leaders is use him to poke China. Overuse him and his efficacy diminishes. I expect that he himself has some understanding of this and, wisely, decided not to overuse his value.

    Are the Olympics more than just sports. Of course it is because we all make it so. But, the games are on now. Who are you cheering for 边想边瞧?

  10. Crazyfinger Says:

    A refreshing introspective piece on a Sunday afternoon. I clicked on the your poetry link and gave up…can’t read or understand mandarin script. Could you at least post a pinyin equivalent? Or is it a blasphemy to ask for a pinyin translation…:-(

    A rather sideways glance at your thoughts may make this New Yorker piece a relevant one. And by the way, if you are disappointed because you haven’t seen much response to your poetry collection, then I have this theory: good poetry shouldn’t encourage discussion and “feedback,” and “comments.” Poetic thought is through and through a monologic one. In fact I personally do not like anybody commenting on the poetry. Just read it and dwell in the thought is what I’d say to poetry readers. I think this impulse to respond suits well for an “opinion piece” and not poetry posts. So take heart, you don’t want us to opine on your poetry…:-)


  11. Hongkonger Says:


    Great article! You are lamenting what great men have long concluded. For example Albert Einstein deduced that, “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

    Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity, and egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.

    To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.

    And here’s my favoriote: “There is no nonsense so gross that society will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every weapon of communal stupidity.” Prof. Robertson Davies, novelist, playwright, critic, journalist

  12. pamhogeweide Says:

    it’s the olympics. analyze it all day and lose sleep all night, but at the end of the analysis, it’s the world’s best athletes who have sacrificed much in dedication of having a shot at being a medal winning Olympian.

    As far as I can tell, it’s the only tradition that the entire globe celebrates together. That’s intense. I’m not a sports fan, but after being a Monday night football widow for years I finally got it: It’s not just about the sport. Games are metaphors, reflections, of our lives.

    In everyday America, most citizens are not interested in freeing Tibet any more than they are interested in the plight of North Korea or the recent military actions in Georgia. That is not to criticize the average American, for the average citizen of any given nation is the same. But we have our activists among us, those provocateurs who herald the rest of us to pay attention to the injustices happening around the globe. Of course some of them will want to hi-jack the Olympics for their cause. Just like the Academy Awards are hijacked nearly every year by at least one winner who has got to get his preach on.

    As for your poetry, I don’t know you, and perhaps I’m overstepping a blog etiquette boundary, but if this blog is about politics than probably the readership is unlikely to be that interested in your poetry. There are lots of other internet avenues to put your poetry out for feedback. Try The Poet Sanctuary for example.

    (great blog,btw. i enjoy mostly lurking…)

  13. Chops Says:

    ‘AFP – China’s media on Saturday waxed patriotic over the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, saying the extravaganza showcased an increasingly confident nation and could be a turning point in world history.

    All dailies gave ample coverage to the opening ceremony, directed by China’s most successful film director Zhang Yimou, who won wide praise for the artistic and historic aspects of the programme.

    After seven years of preparations and an Olympic torch relay that circled the world and ascended Mount Everest, China’s goal of standing among the strong nations of the world has been realised, the First newspaper said.

    “The 100-year Olympic dream is the dream of a strong China and as the dream of a strong nation is realised so is the dream of the Olympics,” the paper said.’


  14. pamhogeweide Says:

    no, not all whites. i know many whites who have much respect and admiration for Chinese people, myself included. Racism is real in every country. No matter how kind or respectful I am there will be someone who will judge me as racist because of the white pallor of my skin. And Dan, that really really sucks.

  15. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    Crazyfinger and Pamhogeweide,
    Thanks for the advice about my poetry career. I have patience.


    Thanks for the support. I am not in the league with the great minds. But I want to learn from them and improve myself.


    I didn’t even know that the Canadian PM stayed home.

  16. MoneyBall Says:

    Softpower is not only for export, it’s for ur own citizens too.
    Guns and money dont make up for the ideals and moralities, which are abosultely needed if a scoiety is too prosper.
    Even Chinese ancestors knew the power of 教化,CCP has a long way to go in the department.

  17. JXie Says:

    Is 涛哥 the more popular and endearing version?

    BXBQ, I like your style… One thing to add about power. Don’t get drunk on it. Soviet Union was powerful and it’s no more. The US actually peaked at the WW2 with half of the world’s GDP. It arrived that point without much showing of its power outward.

  18. ChinkTalk Says:

    pamhogeweide – you are like the white brothers and sisters who walk next to Dr Martin Luther King Jr that change American history. Today the US is the only country in the world that could really show by example about true defeat of racism when you have a black presidential candidate. China has a lot to learn from the US. But when you look at Canada, we have a racist Prime MInister – it is that or he is a complete idiot. The Canadian media are completely anti-China and controlled by two families. This type of monopoly would never happen in the US. In the US, you have many major right wing media but also sensible voices like yours. Chinese people don’t look for special treatment but equality, democracy and justice like what is preached by the West. But in Canada, fairness to the Chinese is a rarity. Notice that many of the Students for Free Tibet people are from Canada. I trust Bush more than Harper.

    Dan Po says “No matter what we chinese will do, Whites will always look down upon us. They’ll criticize what China did and we didn’t do. No way we can change their mind even with soft power or hard power.”

    On Canada.com, one of the largest Canadian media outets, they mentioned that when looked at all the police presence in China for the Olympics, it was a true police state. And when the two Britons and Americans unfurled the sign outside the Bird’s Nest, they were saying about the lousy Chinese security and how smart the protesters were. There are many great ordinary Canadians, but there seems to be a durst of protest from them against the unjust treatment of the Chinese from the Canadian media and the present government. The Chinese seem to have only themselves to count on.

    The Americans are moving forward with their racial harmony, unfortunately for Canada, we are going back to the 1800’s.

  19. Wukailong Says:

    I’m with Moneyball on this one. Soft power isn’t just to make the world look impressed. I think a reason this is such a big deal in the US and China is because they are large countries that get a large part of the criticism pie (and China too large by any means, I would say) and people there wonder why they are not more respected despite their size. People in smaller countries have a different mindset.

    Something close to measuring soft power is the nation branding concept:


    That of course includes a strong economy, but not necessarily – Egypt gets a lot of tourism, for obvious reasons.

  20. BMY Says:

    It sadly might be true on the ground that it’s the gun power or money power. But I hope we human beings can go beyond this.

  21. BMY Says:


    I am no more a 文学青年。(I was ,like everyone else , in the 80s).I’ll let my wife,who loves poetry,拜读大作。

  22. Chops Says:

    The opening ceremony highlighted China invented gunpowder.

    But in none of the Olympics held in the US, did they highlight they invented the atom bomb.

  23. goodtalker Says:

    Let us assume that no Heads of State went to the Opening Ceremony in Beijing – then what? China would still have the Olympics and many would say, ” China has no power -hard or soft”. I am sure a scenario like that would make all the China Bashers feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The reality is China “invited” and “they” came, therefore, all the suspicions, gripes, and anger from the China Naysayers. What I would like to point out is if your reality is disappointing, you should try drugs because your blogging is useless.

  24. BMY Says:

    I missed that “The opening ceremony highlighted China invented gunpowder”. maybe the fireworks implied that?

  25. BMY Says:

    “What I would like to point out is if your reality is disappointing, you should try drugs because your blogging is useless”
    “did they highlight they invented the atom bomb.”

    I hope this is not a place turning to be bashing, China bashing or western bashing. meaningful discussion and ideal sharing, please, everyone.

  26. pamhogeweide Says:

    Chingtalk said:

    pamhogeweide – you are like the white brothers and sisters who walk next to Dr Martin Luther King Jr that change American history.

    that is very kind and generous of you to say that. thanks CT……

  27. pamhogeweide Says:

    i mean chinK talk! LOL

  28. Hongkonger Says:

    @ ChinkTalk: “But when you look at Canada, we have a racist Prime MInister”

    WOW! I am Shocked to learn that! The country of which gives us Da Shan, the Canadian Asian Comedian group, Hongcouver(Vancouver) and Tangrenduo(Toronto) is racist / anti-Chinese ???

  29. Chops Says:

    “Aug. 8 (Xinhua) — The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics held here on Friday night features the four great inventions by ancient Chinese: papermaking, movable type printing, compass and gunpowder.”


  30. Theo Says:

    “Having made it clear to the world that he intended to boycott the Beijing Olympics …”

    Is that what the Chinese media and internet have portrayed Sarkozy as saying? If so, it shows how the prejudice and ignorance of all sides are built up by deliberately misleading and inflammatory reports.

    What Sarkozy actually did was to give the merest hint of a boycott, to please his French audience.

    His words:

    “Our Chinese friends must understand the worldwide concern that there is about the question of Tibet,” he said. “I don’t close the door to any option, but I think it’s more prudent to reserve my responses to concrete developments in the situation. I want dialogue to begin and I will graduate my response according to the response given by Chinese authorities.”

    That’s not really making it clear he intended to boycott the Games – it’s a bit of political posturing. You really are too CNN.

  31. FOARP Says:

    @BXBQ – Dude, you used to have a blog of your own for this kind of thing – is this yet another post where you are going to be banging on about western ‘bias’ without actually going the whole hog? I mean, who wants to read another post full of setences like this:

    “The cheers and applauses each nation received, especially the loud-mouthed boycotters, from the Chinese audience during the March of the Nations, carried interesting messages. What was the Chinese cheering for when team France, team Germany and team USA marched in (wink, wink, wink)?”

    Look, if you have something to say, say it – don’t mince around with weasel words and “nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!”- style obfuscations.

  32. bianxiangbianqiao Says:


    “Look, if you have something to say, say it – don’t mince around with weasel words and “nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!”- style obfuscations.”

    Why can’t you relish subtlety and style once in a while?


    Thanks for the attention to my literature works.

  33. Hongkonger Says:

    @Henry Says: August 7th, 2008 at 4:36 am
    Withstanding George Orwell’s claim that “Serious sport is war minus the shooting,” …..
    I will be most interested in the opening ceremony. It’s going to be a great show and a great introduction to Chinese culture for those who don’t know much about it yet. This is something that all Asians, and indeed all open-minded individuals, can enjoy as a harbinger of how Chinese culture will be shared with the world more and more. “Chinese” is a culture, not a race, and I really believe that in the near future we will all be at least a little Chinese.

    Mmm…what does it mean by being a little more chinese? My buddy always say, “we chinese are easy going, we live and let live.” Others say chinese are “thin skinned,” and suffer from inferiority complex. I am very proud to be chinese, I have no idea what “they” are talking about.
    Considering how long we’ve been put-down and then blamed & ridiculed for suffering from “collective victimized mentality,” what a load of crap. Regardless, the Chinese people (i.e. Lao Bai Xing) have remained exceptionally friendly, opened and adaptable to new ideas, customs & cultural merging, such as learning English etc.
    I appreciate BXBQ’s retort above, “Why can’t you relish subtlety and style once in a while?” I have been acused of beating around the bush, so I am trying, against my own customs, to be more direct, at least on this blog. Who was it who said, “If you aimed to please everybody, you’ll only end up pleasing none.”

  34. ChinkTalk Says:


    WOW! I am Shocked to learn that!

    The country of which gives us Da Shan – while I am very proud of DaShan for his accomplishments in China, Canada should not be applauded because he is Canadian but the accolade should be awarded to China and the Chinese for their tolerance and acceptance of a foreigner. If the Chinese reject him on the basis of his race, he would not be known no matter how talented he is.

    the Canadian Asian Comedian group – name one Chinese-Canadian comedian recognized nationally in Canada.

    Hongcouver(Vancouver) and Tangrenduo(Toronto) – happened during Chretien’s tenure as Prime Minister

    Last year for the first time in Canadian history – there are more immigrants from South Asia (mainly India) than people from East Asia (mainly from China) coming to Canada – this is during Harper’s time. When I say Harper is a racist I refer to his anti-sinoism. And the above is just part of a pattern.

  35. pug_ster Says:

    I find it funny when the Western Propaganda is running out of things to bash China about so now they are posting stories like this: IOC official raps China police for ‘stone faces’


  36. BChung Says:

    the silliest thing of all, its spending so much money on that few minutes and hours. While if you think about it, y didnt China use those money to help the poor who is being left out by the economic boom. Sure i know the construction of the stadum hired alot of people, but y not give more free education to migrant workers kids? etc.

    The firewords are nice, and they got a big ass TV on the groud, and worse of all even Chinese netcitizens are disspointed at the opening ceremonies.

  37. bianxiangbianqiao Says:


    Jealousy is uncool.

  38. Kris Says:

    This whole conversation highlights what I have disliked most about the 2008 Olympics. China is the host country of the 2008 Olympics, the 2008 Olympics do not belong to China. This distinction has been blurred significantly by both those inside China (with the extreme nationalism that seems to be tied up in this hosting of the Olympics) and also by those outside China who seem to think that taking issue with the Chinese government should mean boycotting the Olympics held there. Come on people, you all need to grow up.

    I think it was idiotic for any world leader to intimate (if they did) that they did not intend to go to the opening ceremony of the Olympics. The spirit and purpose of the Olympics demands it, and anyone who honestly stayed away for political reasons does not deserve to represent their country in any capacity. Those who publicly gave the impression that they would not attend should be ashamed, but I applaud them for having the decency to go anyway. I would like to think that for at least one or two of them it had more to do with this sudden understanding of what the Olympics is meant to be and nothing at all to do with soft or hard power. But let’s face it, it probably wasn’t even as noble as that. In almost every case it was more likely an issue of not wanting to be left out of the party and an attempt not to look like a jackass.

    And as someone who has been living in China and has married a Chinese woman, I have to say I am actually ashamed of how China as a whole has treated their first Olympics. The nationalism that has been whipped up around it is appalling in my mind. And I choose the word nationalism and not patriotism, for patriotism is what I wish I had seen. China has every reason to be proud and excited about hosting the 2008 Olympics, but ultimately that pride and excitement has been twisted into something a little dark. This isn’t about pride to be hosting an international event meant to highlight the greatness in humanity and our common dreams, this has become about showing the world ‘Hey! We are important now!’ and all about trying to win as many medals as humanly possible. Now I am not going to say that we Americans don’t like winning medals, of course we do, but in China it appears to be an obsession. This need to beat the other countries seems to have taken on a higher importance than just being part of what should be a wonderful event.

    The best example I can think of the difference between attitudes on the Olympics comes from the advertising. In China every single tv commercial I have seen significantly highlights the Chinese and their athletes and the quest for gold. I have personally yet to see an ad in China that does not do this. The major theme is about China winning. While on American television there are a number of ads running that showcase the Olympics as a whole, specifically making comments about supporting athletes no matter which country they come from. There was even a visa commercial that went on to say that we cheer for athletes no matter which country they come from because in the end they are human and we are human and when they succeed, we succeed. I admit, I got a bit choked up the first time I saw it.

    That is what is missing for the Chinese I believe in hosting the Olympics and the great opportunity that has been missed for all of China. Hosting the Olympics could have significantly raised the awareness of the Chinese people that they are in fact part of a greater world of humanity and shown them they are truly brothers and sisters of all of us. And instead it has been focused into an us vs them affair.

    Maybe the end result will prove me wrong, I hope so, but so far I am sad and disappointed.

  39. wuming - wumaodang Says:


    I sympathize with you on your feeling of sadness. Now you know how I felt in 1984 and 1996, when a country that had won most of the medals but couldn’t stop the outpouring of nationa … eh patriotism in its free media, and I don’t recall a commercial featuring/encouraging non-American athletes on ABC/NBC at the time. I don’t recall anyone complain about that either.

    Also, the mood in Beijing might have been lighter if the Sichuan earthquake had not happened.

  40. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    The mood in Beijing is pretty good as far as I can see. It would be better if the Chinese Olympic Torch Bearers had received more civilized treatment in Europe, Australia and North America. I do not see anybody in the West having a problem with the thugs and hooligans assalting wheel-chair bound Jin Jing; very strange world.

  41. Charles Liu Says:

    Chris, it is also our goal to “win as many medals as humanly possible”, Why do you think NBC only broadcast events American athlets have a shot at, where as badminton is reserved for the 4am slot? Is that nationalism?

    Also, do you think there would be this “nationalist backlash” you saw, had CNN not showed Nepal police as Chinese, and one-legged paralympian was not attacked by two-legged able body protester abroad?

  42. Kris Says:

    @wuming – wumaodang

    I do remember commercials encouraging a true Olympic spirit in 1996, but I would have to do some research to back that up. But if that is the case that the focus of support was nationalistic in nature and not patriotic, I would completely agree with you in being sad and frustrated. It is shameful to watch.


    I am sorry but that is exactly the type of thinking I am ashamed of. “Well they started it!” The whole point of the Olympics is to move beyond this type of thinking.

    You say the mood in Beijing is good, that’s great, but if you are saying the mentality I described is acceptable because people bullied torch-bearers then you have completely missed the point. The host country of the Olympics has the responsibility to rise above these petty issues and be a beacon of international cooperation.

  43. Opersai Says:

    Oh there it goes again, we are holier than thou. funny.

  44. Kris Says:

    @Charles Liu

    Watching Olympics coverage outside of China I can honestly say that it appears more focused on international cooperation and sport than a nationalistic push. But of course American television would showcase the events that American’s participate in. That isn’t nationalistic, that is just logical. But I have seen nothing here that compares to the ‘Win China!’ campaigns I saw in China last week. Now or back in ’96.

    However if it was like that before here in America or if it was that like that in some future Olympics, I would be equally appalled. I have no issue taking criticism or criticizing my country when it is warranted.

    As for the “Well they started it!” argument, it is the same answer I gave above. “The host country of the Olympics has the responsibility to rise above these petty issues and be a beacon of international cooperation.”

  45. Nimrod Says:

    Come on guys, this is a case of one hand feeding the other. Nothing pumps up Chinese nationalism more than China and Chinese being attacked left and right — and that’s an observation, not a justification.

    Still I’ve seen many editorials urging Chinese spectators to cheer for other teams at their venues, even France… and I’m almost certain I’ve seen some nice welcoming ads, especially from the sponsors like Lenovo. Chinese companies are going international, after all, and just like Visa, will want to have an open message, but I’m not sure such commercial considerations have much to do with national values.

    If anything, Chinese people seem to me remarkably more level-headed than I expected and not nationalistic to the extent of antagonism — that should close the coffin on that ridiculously hyped up gutter crap about the 1936 Olympics, the “nationalistic” youth, and the China threat. I’m proud of my people, as they are rightly proud of their country.

  46. wuming - wumaodang Says:


    No, it is not shameful. It is human nature. Though there were rare moments of grace when a nation transcend its parochial nationalism (Marshall Plan, for example), the norm of history has always been built upon nationalism (or patriotism, whose distinction from nationalism is entirely artificial.) The only systematic experiment of internationalism was the 20th century communism, which we probably all agree was dehumanizing. This current western media campaign against China is very much based on such one-side Platonic idealism applied only to the others.

  47. Kris Says:

    “Oh there it goes again, we are holier than thou.”

    Oh there is goes again, throwing out rehashed quotations meant to deride a poster without actually adding to the conversation.

    I am not a China basher, I have loved living in China and the Chinese people. I am not a supporter of the idiotic ‘Free Tibet’ movement, and I don’t have any more significant problems with the Chinese government than I do with my own government. They are both hopelessly corrupt and do very little to help their own people that doesn’t first line the pockets of the individuals making policy and their friends and cronies.

    But I can and will be ashamed of any group of people that take on the responsibility of hosting the Olympics and miss out on (what I believe) is a core component of the games – the spirit of true international cooperation and competition and the greater good of humanity. I will be ashamed of anyone that perverts the hosting of the Olympics to fuel nationalism. That includes my own Americans, the Chinese, or anyone. Right now it is glaringly the issue in China, so I am ashamed of China. If the same thing has happened or will happen in America, I will be equally ashamed. It is currently my opinion that at least the 1996 Olympics were not like that, but I have already admitted I haven’t done the research to support that.

    But no one has said that they disagree with me that the hosting position has been perverted to fuel nationalism in China, so what is the point of trying to implicate the U.S. or anyone else as also being guilty of the same crime? Does it make the crime any less heinous?

    That is like being accused of grand larceny and saying “Well he did it too, so I shouldn’t be held accountable.”

    If it just makes you feel better to point it out then fine, but like I said I have not personally witnessed anywhere but China. And witnessing it there is disappointing.

  48. Kris Says:

    Sorry, posted too slow – so now someone(s) has disagreed with me. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

  49. Kris Says:

    @wuming – wumaodang

    I have to completely disagree with you that the difference between patriotism and nationalism is artificial.

    Nationalism is a blind love and support of one’s country at all costs.

    Patriotism is loving one’s country enough to look critically at how it is being run and what is doing, and then hopefully act on that criticism to try to bring about change.

    I have met quite a few Chinese Patriots and have been glad to know them, sadly though they are horribly outnumbered by the Nationalists.

    While I have met a number of American Patriots and they are sadly outnumbered by the hordes of Americans who seem apathetic to the state and direction of their nation.

    I am not sure which is a bigger problem, but nationalists are scarier.

  50. Opersai Says:


    whatever you say. Funny I just saw the exact different thing said about America nationalism a few days ago.

    But, to me, it’s indicative of something — and that’s not just that “money makes the world go round.” It bespeaks of an insularity in this country. I’ve noticed this in Olympics past. I was in China for the Games in Athens. The coverage by China’s Central Television was stellar — a lot of events, not all of them dominated by China, of all sports, even obscure ones and not just ones Chinese are good at. Same held true for the Sydney Games which also found me in Beijing.

    I know from friends that that’s never been the case here. Don’t expect broad and deep coverage from the American networks. It’s pretty much going to be “all the way with USA….” Who’s acting like a superpower now?

    I find it tiring when you try to point out you are doing this, this that wrong, and say, see, how we are so much better. Shall we stop that, and give some constructive criticism? like starting to give useful suggestions to improve the situation instead? It’s so easy to point at others and say, you are doing it wrong.

  51. pug_ster Says:


    I don’t see what’s wrong with Chinese’s nationalism towards how many golds that they can win. I recall that how NBC brag about Michael Phelps’ quest for 8 gold metals this year. A week ago when Shawn Johnson was interviewed by NBC, she predicts that she can beat the pants off from the China’s gymnastics team. There’s even an interview from an economist that China won’t win as many metals as the US because the US has a higher GDP than China. Unfortunately, this is kind of ‘nationalism’ that any country has, including the US.

    I also noticed that more Americans have a lack of sportsmanship compared to the Chinese. Take an example of the of the Chinese-US basketball game this past weekend. Even China lost, the Chinese crowds cheered on the US. In the woman’s gymnastics prelims this past weekend, NBC complained how the American gymnasts are cheated out of points and complained that the Chinese gymnasts are under aged.

  52. wuming - wumaodang Says:


    You felt 1996 Olympics was not overly nationalistic, while I felt quite stung by its jingoism; you choose to whitewash your (and mine, after all I am a US citizen) country’s predominance of fanatic and religious based nationalism, while only point out its relatively benign political apathy. Then by your definition, you and me are both nationalists, not patriots. But I think we are behaving just like majority of the human being would have behaved, mostly blind to his own country’s fault and while can not stand the same fault of the others.

    Which is scarier? We know that ideology (or idealism, another non-existent distinction) kills. I have the contemporary Chinese history to back that up.

  53. Kris Says:


    I didn’t say wanting to win in competition alone was unacceptable, I said that there appears to be an obsession about it in China. And I am talking about in comparison with America, where I am this week, and where the average American I have spoken to doesn’t care all that much how many medals we win. They are either excited about the Olympics as a whole or don’t care at all about the games.

    I have to say that overall I completely disagree that Americans lack sportsmanship. In a lot of ways I would say America is one of the best examples of sportsmanship. We have very few of the hooliganism issues that a lot of other western countries have in their sports programs. And sports in general are much more a part of our culture than from what I have seen in China.

    However I will agree I was impressed with the response to the basketball game, in fact I was very impressed by that and made me feel a little better about the 2008 Olympics as a whole.

    But I disagree with the gymnastics example. It is an unfair advantage if the gymnasts are underage. Complaining about unfair competition when it is unfair is not having a lack of sportsmanship.

  54. Kris Says:

    @wuming – wumaodang

    Now you appear just to be trying to be insulting.

    I have said many times that by my impression the 1996 Olympics did not seem to be nationalistic, especially in comparison to the 2008 Olympics. But I have also said I have not done the research to back that up and am perfectly willing to accede that they were if the evidence is there and if they were, I would be equally appalled.

    As for being blind to my own country’s faults, I happily pointed out earlier one of our major faults when I described our political system. I could continue to list the problems with America if that is a requirement before engaging in discussion here. I personally don’t think you have to qualify yourself and your level of self-deprecation about your own country before you can point out a problem in another. And I heartily disagree with the concept you seem to be putting forth that you can’t point fingers at other countries and your own at the same time. In this global society we should be pointing fingers everywhere we see injustice and despicable behavior.

    And so I completely fail to see how by definition I am a nationalist. Even before you accused me of it, I had criticized my own country. Which by my definition certainly makes me a patriot. Though I admit I have not done as much as others to try to bring about change so I am not a great patriot. But a nationalist I certainly am not.

  55. Bill Woods Says:

    “… strong advice against it from John MacCaine, …”

    Any relation to Sen. John McCain?

  56. TommyBahamas Says:

    “Which is scarier? We know that ideology (or idealism, another non-existent distinction) kills. I have the contemporary Chinese history to back that up.” AND European and American history I might add.

    Democracy is an ideology, millions have and are dying for and because of it.

    That is like being accused of grand larceny and saying “Well he did it too, so I shouldn’t be held accountable.”

    Actually, it’s more like, “Well they’ve been doing them (breaking the rules, bullying and invading under false pretenses… and they keep getting away with it – lots of precedence, so give the new comers(of Western style game rules) a break will ya?”

    NBC complained how the American gymnasts are cheated out of points and complained that the Chinese gymnasts are under aged WITHOUT PROOFs! It’s the same old Accuse and apologize later after the DAMAGES are done trick.

    It is true that Politics is the final refuge for scoundrels. Look, no one will disagree with you on corruption charges among the ruling class/party, but comparing virtues between two criminals and siding with a mass murder because you happen to agree with his beliefs is not gonna win you any virtuous friends.

  57. Charles Liu Says:

    Kris, appearance can be subjective. What is true is your “host country of the Olympics has the responsibility to rise above these petty issues” has been tested in the opening ceremoney:

    – France was warmly welcomed
    – Japan was warmly welcomed
    – US got a freaking nice welcome

    Previous “water cube filled with smog” accusation by US and Australian swimmers turned out to be humidity. The whole thing was handled openly. What more can we ask for? No stabbing? They can’t help that can they?

  58. MoneyBall Says:

    There is no difference between Patriotism and Nationalism.
    You might think there is, but really, there is not. Come on, who are you kidding.
    They aren’t even the bright side and dark side of the same thing, they are the same side of the same thing.
    The bottom line is, it is Hostile to others.
    Oscar Wilde said Patriotism is a virtue of the vicious, that sums everything,
    One might argue the difference is to love the country critically or blindly, that’s just horseshit.
    Coz it just becomes a wording game, and in reality its even worse, mankind are so stupid that they cant tell the difference between critically and blindly even they want to.

  59. Kris Says:

    “but comparing virtues between two criminals and siding with a mass murder because you happen to agree with his beliefs is not gonna win you any virtuous friends.” Agreed. But come on, they are both mass murderers. Just China hasn’t done it recently. My fear is that the growing nationalism could eventually lead to that. It is certainly true that the Chinese government actively works to promote a strong vein of nationalism. That is obvious to anyone living in China. There is even an article just today I saw about strong nationalistic tendencies of returning Chinese and it spoke specifically about the nationalist push in China in of the last 20 years. I will try to find the link again.

    @Charles Liu

    I agree the Opening Ceremony looked good, but as many friends of mine have commented it came across as a bit fake when compared to the overall attitude about the Olympics that the average Chinese population seems to hold and that the Chinese government seems to be pushing. And it was my understanding that the average person attending the Opening Ceremony was certainly not representative of the average Chinese citizen. All reports I have seen supported the idea that the audience was filled with an upper echelon of society and certainly a large amount of foreign dignitaries (political and business).

    But even if that is not true and there were considerably more ‘average’ members of the audience, I would still challenge that the attitude of those attending the games and the attitude of the general population of China is still rather divorced. My whole issue here is with the use of the hosting of the 2008 Olympics to inspire nationalism in the general population. I am not taking issue with the public face of the people who were able to get tickets.

    I think I agree with what Ai Weiwei (艾未未) (one of the designers consulted for the Bird’s Nest design) seems to be saying in this Reuter’s article titled ‘China Bird’s Nest designer rails at Olympic “fakeness”‘:

    Ultimately I agree with his perception in that China seems to be really putting on a good show for the world. My concern is what they are doing with this opportunity at home.

  60. Kris Says:

    Overall I strongly identify with George Orwell’s thoughts on Nationalism and Patriotism which certainly shows a clear distinction.

    Patriotism – devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force upon other people. (Certainly not something Bush & co. agree with, but then that is one of my major problems with the current regime in America.)

    Nationalism – the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or an idea, and placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.

    Though my understanding of Patriotism adds the concept of responsibility to look critically at the country you love and work to make it better, it certainly could be read into Orwell’s definitions that to be a Patriot you cannot be blind to the faults and issues of your country.

    Orwell also said, “All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral color when committed by ‘our’ side.… The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

    Which I agree with but wuming – wumaodang would probably argue I am guilty of. Of course I disagree and would say again that if shown the evidence of the nationalistic character of past U.S. Olympics I would be equally upset. But what is most upsetting to me is how much of the attitude described above I have seen in China. Probably the most sad example coming from a 24 year old friend from central China who had never really heard very much about the 1989 Incident and when shown some video of the tanks and students from CNN responded with ‘Well they must have had a good reason’.

    I admit that I am biased certainly by the fact that in the last three years I came to love China and its people, enough to want to start a family there and forever tie my family to its culture and legacy, but that I have been saddened and scared by the rise in nationalism especially in the younger generations. I admit that could certainly be coloring my perception of the presentation of the Olympics to the general population in China, but I still feel that the stories are not matched. What China shows the world of its Olympic Spirit and what China shows its own people does not appear to be the same.

  61. pug_ster Says:

    @Kris #52,

    What’s wrong with China’s obsession toward the games? I’m sure that there are Americans who are more obsessed with baseball or football more than the olympics. So the Chinese probably identify more with the Olympians rather than other sports. I recall that in the Athens games 4 years ago that they were able only sell 1/2 of the tickets and the Beijing games are sold out before it began. Makes you wonder if cities like Athens want the games in the first place.

    As I said, I’ve watched Boston Yankees games and you can see the away team jeered and that shows lack of American’s sportsmanship where they badmouth about the other team. The gymnastics example is another example of why Americans badmouth other countries team.

  62. Hongkonger Says:

    I was just saying last night, “Look at how much fun the Chinese people are having. The Opening ceremony was a huge success. Phew, no rain, no bombs, no riots! Teams from all nations were cheered, they are all enjoying the hospitality of the Chinese Lao Bai Xing and the CCP as we speak. Millions of chinese started learning English years ahead – hopefully, the same enthusiaism (and language training business-profits) will be returned to Chinese language institutes – London Olympics, perhaps?

    When a stranger knocks at an America door in America, presumably the owner has every right to say to the stranger, “Get off MY property, or I’ll blow your brains out!” I am exaggerating of course, otherwise their would be a lot of headless Jehovah witnesses on the porches of the land of the free. What I am getting at is the lao Bai Xing here don’t own guns, we are not so property sensitive, and given the Orwellian definitions, I see that the Chinese are more patriotic while Kris’ country definitely fits to the T as being rabidly Nationalistic. Hence the many anti-war, (i.e. anti-Nationalism) groups and movements in North America. Those, I call the American patriots – those who would rather defy their Commander-in-Chief than to take up arms against the innocents.

    “in the last three years I came to love China and its people, enough to want to start a family there and forever tie my family to its culture and legacy,” Kris

    Sounds great. Many have made similar moves, many of whom I know remain very Nationalistic/Patriotically bias, stuck in and to their own old ways; speak lousy chinese, enjoy special and unequal status. Almost all see to it that their Asian spouses learn and saw the errors of their Chinese ways… the list goes on.

  63. Hongkonger Says:

    There are of course inspiring exceptions to the rule. But we are talking about the rules here, not the few Da Shans here and there, but the vast majority of expats, guests, visitors, illegal workers, spouse seekers, volunteers, students, officials and businessmen in China. The Da Shans would get it and benfit intellectually, spiritually and thus socially here, while the rest, they are no different from the many immigrants overseas who just couldn’t and wouldn’t integrate. Kudos to all you folks of Foolsmountain who not only learn the language, integrate with American culture, but remain truthful to your roots. Bravo!

  64. pamhogeweide Says:

    Kris said:

    What China shows the world of its Olympic Spirit and what China shows its own people does not appear to be the same.

    That can be said of probably every nation and perhaps even most families. If you come to my house for dinner I will clean up, get the kids showered, and put out a wonderful meal to welcome you. You will not know that I pushed junk into the cabinet or that I yelled at my kids to toe the line before your arrival. You won’t be aware of the little tricks I’ve pulled to make sure your stay is pleasant and enjoyable. But such is life, and such is hospitality.

    I don’t know about nationalism and patriotism. They both seem ego driven. I’d much rather discuss what is humanitarianism. Perhaps that is, in part, a point you are trying to make.

    I like this quote I found on some site,

    National character is only another name for the particular form which the littleness, perversity and baseness of mankind take in every country. Every nation mocks at other nations, and all are right.

    Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher.

    Ego, people, all roads seem to lead back to identity and Ego.

  65. pamhogeweide Says:

    this is an interesting observation from MSNBC in July:

    Moreover, many people feel they have a personal stake in Beijing’s ability to host a successful Summer Games. The Pew survey found that, “roughly 8 in 10 say the Olympics are important to them personally.”

    All these factors, however – optimism, pride, a history of perceived victimhood – might make for a potent mix during an event that already tends to heighten nationalist sentiment amongst countries competing in the Games.

    In a recent article about the roots of China’s current wave of nationalism, writer-observer Orville Schell quotes a China-born filmmaker as saying, “We Chinese carry the burden of our history with us and the question of Western humiliation is always unconsciously inside us…. There is something almost in our DNA that triggers automatic, and sometimes extreme, responses to foreign criticisms or put-downs.

    Do my Chinese brothers and sisters agree with this soundbite???

  66. Kris Says:

    I certainly can’t disagree with the Boston Yankees example.

    While I would never pretend to speak good mandarin, I think I am better than most of the expats I have met in China. And having lived in multiple places within China that most expats don’t venture to and not just hiding out in the opulence of Shanghai I think it would be fair to say I am at least not the worst kind of offender you describe.

    Also I definitely consider myself part of the anti-war movement, though as I said before not a great patriot certainly a patriot.

    I can see your point about “but has no wish to force upon other people” being a much better description of the current state of China over America, I personally feel it is equally true that China currently has the lion share of “placing it beyond good and evil”. I think I can count on one hand the amount of Americans I have meet in my daily life that does not willing talk about the evils of our country and actively complain about them. And a good percentage will discuss ideas about how to make them better. What I saw more and more was that sense of nationalism in China, and the recent surveys that have been so widely publicized about the acceptance of the Chinese of the state and direction of the Chinese government seems to support that observation.

    But the end of your comment seems to me to be a glaring double standard. You described the western expats as “remain very Nationalistic/Patriotically bias, stuck in and to their own old ways” and then applauded the Foolsmountain folks for “but remain truthful to your roots”. What exactly is the difference? Are you not just deriding the westerners for ‘remaining truthful to their roots’ and applauding the Foolsmountainers for ‘maintaining their bias’ and ‘being stuck in and to their own old ways’? It hardly seems fair to applaud one group and accuse another for the same action simply because you agree with one’s point of view. As TommyBahamas pointed out earlier.


    While I never stated it directly, the humanitarian aspect was certainly implied. I believe that we have seen that nationalism leads to horrible humanitarian offenses against those outside of the nation and even those inside the nation that may oppose the nationalism movement.

    And I like the quote.

  67. Kris Says:


    I forgot to respond to the first part of your comment about hospitality. While I agree that is a common part of hospitality it doesn’t change the underlying issue I was talking about. Namely that to the world China has made the 2008 Olympics appear to be a very open and honest presentation of Olympic spirit embracing international cooperation and the spirit of humanity, but that internally the 2008 Olympics seems to be used to fuel nationalism and that the opportunity to teach to the general population of China more about that Olympic spirit has been lost.

  68. MutantJedi Says:

    I find watching the NBC coverage of the games a bit frustrating.

    Not unexpected though. The American flavor of patriotism/nationalism tends to leave a bit of a sour aftertaste. But, perhaps that’s just a reflection of my own Canadian nationalism.

    When I think of patriotism/nationalism, I find I need the context. Americans are not nationalistic; they are patriotic. But that’s following the American way of thinking. Their patriotism would be my nationalism. I’d think you’d likely find most Canadians squirm about about their “patriotism” if the conversation was prefixed with a discussion of Americans. We’d find that “nationalistic” might fit a bit better – not as gaudy, loud or arrogant as our cousins to the south’s “patriotism”.

    In the end, “patriotism” vs “nationalism” is a cultural perspective. Within the American context, I would expect that “patriotism” is good while “nationalism” is bad and it is what non-Americans do. To me, “patriotism” leans a bit on the “bleeds red, white and blue” part of the spectrum but otherwise is little different than “nationalism”. Splitting the difference is splitting hairs.

    For reference, my dictionary on my MacBook Pro (those Americans sure make a fine computer!) has the following definitions:

    patriot |ˈpātrēət|
    1 a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.
    2 ( Patriot) trademark an automated surface-to-air missile system designed for early detection and interception of missiles or aircraft.
    • a missile deployed in this system.
    patriotism |-ˌtizəm| |ˈpeɪtriəˈtɪzəm| noun
    ORIGIN late 16th cent. (in the late Latin sense): from French patriote, from late Latin patriota ‘fellow countryman,’ from Greek patriōtēs, from patrios ‘of one’s fathers,’ from patris ‘fatherland.’

    nationalism |ˈna sh ənəˌlizəm|
    patriotic feeling, principles, or efforts.
    • an extreme form of this, esp. marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries.
    • advocacy of political independence for a particular country : Palestinian nationalism.

    So… two roads ending in essentially the same spot.

    … Oh, the NBC coverage…
    Tonight I watch an article about the “Charm Offensive”. Interesting American type of phraseology, eh? Joshua Kurlantzick wrote a book titled Charm Offensive: How China’s Soft Power Is Transforming the World. Here’s a link to a policy brief titled China’s Charm: Implications of Chinese Soft Power. The anchor probably had Kurlantzick work in mind for the piece but TV is sloppy about credits.

    However, the term “Charm Offensive” colored the piece from the outset. “Offensive” or even strategic would I not describe the efforts of the cab driver to learn English. Yet, the color was already dabbed on. The anchor reminded his audience that China is not a democracy (implied – like the USA is). It is easy for the Chinese to gather the mass of performers and volunteers (implied – no freedom like the USA).

    Alas, I reminded myself, it is the narrative that both the NBC and their audience can understand. Very few Americans would be uncomfortable with the coverage. They are largely unable to sense arrogant patriotism when it is aligned with their own sensibilities. By the same token, when the patriotism doesn’t follow their narrative, they are very sensitive to it.

    Anyhow… I don’t want to rag on the Americans too much. They do have a lot to be proud of.

  69. CLC Says:

    @Kris 67

    Is this part of Chinese government’s strategy to fuel nationalism?

    Cheering for an Old Enemy


  70. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    Based on my observation, there is no excessive nationalism in China. I think nationalism becomes excessive when the country’s citizens become hostile toward outsiders even in the absence provocation.

    I was browsing through a 2000 article by Wang Xiaodong, a scholar of some sort in Beijing who is associated with the nationalist movement. His argument is that in the 1980 there was a plague of “reverse racism” among Chinese intellectuals, regarding the Chinese culture as inferior to the West. The 1988 CCTV series Yellow
    River elegy) (He Sang) was one of their most blatant manifestos. Since the 1990s this self debasing has been gradually replaced with a normal sense of self-affirmation among the Chinese intellectuals, leading them back to join the Chinese masses, who have always been reasonably self-affirmative toward the Chinese culture. The perceived “nationalism” is a result of the shift among the intellectuals and their media, e.g., books and the press. It is the change, not the extremism, that catches people’s attention. Here is the article in Chinese.
    民族主义和中国的未来, 王小东, 原载《天涯》2000年第2 期

  71. MoneyBall Says:


    Your fear of Chinese patroitism, because you want to live here yet you feel alienated by it, makes you believe it should be called as nationalism to justify your fear. It’s ok.

    We are humans, not philosophy robots, we’re all falliable, that’s why it’s extremely dangerous trying to differentiate the 2 things, in doing so —- priding and beautifying patriotism, you’re only paving the soil and sowing the seeds of nationalism. Sooner or later the little cute flowers will turn into something ugly, It’s INEVITABLE. Each and every nationalist in human history believes they are great patroits, that’s how everything’s started.

    You might have faith that the mass can make a better judgment call to pass the critical test. I’m sorry to say you’re unforgivingly wrong. Germans were probably the most sophisticated ppl in the world but they failed the test in 1930s’. Americans are probably the greatest people now but they failed the test after 9/11, At the end of the day nationalisms always win.

    You may love to think everything was Dubya and neocons’ fault or even fox news’ fault but that’s just wishful thinking, Americans failed the patriotism vs nationalism test as a people, do not try to shift the blame. If a country commits crimes and its people just shrug and say oh it was a bad administration and move on in every 4 yrs, it’s convenient but it cant fool nobody but yourself, and the country will keep repeating the same mistake again and again. You ever wonder why there are so many peace loving Americans yet the country has been ultral aggressive over past 6 decades? the root cause of all evil, is the great American patriotism. Unfortunately Americans are too proud to realize that.

  72. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    My first paragraph was incomplete. It should be:

    Based on my observation, there is no excessive nationalism in China. I think nationalism becomes excessive when the country’s citizens become hostile toward outsiders even in the absence provocation. This is not the case in today’s China. The opening ceremony is a Chinese self introduction filled with good will to the world. The sentimentality and over flowing love for the entire world is almost embarrassing.

  73. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    Americans are one of the most nationalistic people in today’s world. Their brand of nationalism is “American Excpetionalism”. They not only have responsibility for themselves, but also take charge of other people’s well being, such as spreading democracy in the world, promoting religious freedom in China, opposing communism on the entire planet, etc. and etc. American children are indoctrinated on this brand of nationalism early on, reciting the pledge of the allegiance (???? what was it exactly) every morning, with the wording of “one nation under God”. Chinese nationalism at least is limited to taking care of things within the Chinese border, instead of imposing our values and ideas on other people.

  74. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    American Nationalism/Exceptionalism has a religious flavor (one nation Under God. In God we trust. God bless USA), which scares the crap out of me. Chinese Nationalism is purely human, human beings with the same heritage caring for each other and sticking together.

  75. Kris Says:


    Thanks for your opinion, as obviously bitter and misguided as it is.

    And thanks everyone else for the conversation, I enjoyed it. Off to bed.

  76. Hongkonger Says:

    First of all kudos to you for not being a snorty American/foreigner.

    “I think I can count on one hand the amount of Americans I have meet in my daily life that does not willing talk about the evils of our country and actively complain about them.”

    Ah…that’s exactly what the Chinese don’t appreciate. We are not accustomed to dragging our dirty laundries in public — As pamhogeweide so honestly admits what everybody does with regards to hospitality for “friends visiting from afar.” Trust has to be earned – I read it took the english missionary Hudson Taylor many years to earn his parishioners total trust by the perfecting his chinese, even dressed and lived not just among the chinese but by becoming chinese. This is not a must-do, must-be for today’s expats in China, but it’s the way and the choice is up to the individuals.

    The reason I applaud the Foolsmountain crew is because they have INTEGRATED and yet remaining true to their roots simply for the fact that their language skills, both in written/spoken English as well as Chinese are both at native levels. BXBQ, for example lived in China until he was an adult before going overseas for his graduate studies. In the same token, I can literally count with one hand the number of expats who could claim to have followed the axiom of being a Roman while in Rome, or Japan, or Korea, or Hong Kong, or Taiwan, or China or most any countries these nationalistic-patriotic or escapees are found. You are right about me having a double standard, simply because I can’t find near-equal reciprocal commitment & high level standards in most of the expat population that’s comparable to that of the Asians’.

    Again, kudos to you, Kris, for your efforts and intentions — trust me, your rewards shall be much greater for you than what my people ever receive overseas.

  77. NotHappy Says:

    Talking about soft power, I’d like to share my own experience when applying for visa in Chinese Consulate General Sydney Office.

    A print return ticket is needed now when applying for Chinese visa and this policy has been effective since this April. I didnot realise there was policy change since my last year visit and still sticked to my previous experience, prepared all the needed document and photos, asked boss granting me coming to work late and then went to the office.

    After a long queue with about 40mins waiting I was refused because I don’t have the ticket with me. I am trying to provide with a few options to avoid multiple trips, and more importantly I don’t want multiple times of late to work since the office is only open (9am-12pm):

    1. I will fax or email to your office immediately after I get back to work in about 1 hour.
    2. I will provide the print ticket when I pick up the visa, you can cancel my visa if I cannot provide the print ticket and I still pay for the visa application fee.
    3. I can call my travel agent and let them confirm the ticket to the officer.

    The officer there refused my 1st option by saying “We don’t accept any fax or email” and they won’t even consider my 2nd or 3rd option. I told them that I didnot mean to break the rule by not providing the return ticket but I just seek some understanding or alternatives. Then perhaps the supervisor came over and said: “Everyone is the same, we won’t accept visa application without ticket. There is no room to negotiate”. Then the security guard came over and I had to leave feeling really unhappy.

    This immediately reminds me the softpower post here. Those unfriendly officer represent the face of China, if they look cold blooded and is not willing to help or understand, this certainly will affect the way how China is looked like.

    Am I too demanding in this case?

  78. CLC Says:

    @Kris 75
    Off to bed.
    I am a little confused. Do you currently live in China or the USA?

  79. BMY Says:


    I think Kris said somewhere earlier he is in the U.S right now

  80. bianxiangbianqiao Says:


    I am sorry about your experience with the Chinese visa officer. Visa officers are rude and inconsiderate all over the world. I am sure the Chinese embassy will grant you the visa if you go back with the return ticket. Maybe they will make you pay another application fee.

    My parents had to provide return tickets to the US immigration officer every time they arrive in the US for a visit. When I applied for my student visa at the US embassy in Beijing many years ago, I had to spend the whole night outside the US embassy like a refugee (there must be thousands of applicants) to meet the visa officer the next day. It was brutal.

  81. NotHappy Says:

    @BXBQ, thanks for your comments and I do feel better now. Looks like the rules are to make life harder for good people everywhere.

  82. FOARP Says:

    @BXBQ – Was that the same Wang Xiaodong who accused Chinese liberals of being “foreign slaves” and of being “more elitist than foreign princes”? I think it is safe to say that he is more than merely ‘associated’ with the nationalist movement – he is one of its chief scholars.

  83. FOARP Says:

    @Nothappy – What kind of visa did you apply for? Are you going via Hong Kong?

  84. FOARP Says:

    @Mutantjedi – The difference between nationalism and patriotism is one too complex to be gleamed from a dictionary (not that this method is advisable in any case), George Orwell is probably the English language author who go closest to defining it. Here’s a quote from his famous essay ‘Notes On Nationalism’:

    “Somewhere or other Byron makes use of the French word longeur, and remarks in passing that though in England we happen not to have the word, we have the thing in considerable profusion. In the same way, there is a habit of mind which is now so widespread that it affects our thinking on nearly every subject, but which has not yet been given a name. As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word ‘nationalism’, but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not always attach itself to what is called a nation — that is, a single race or a geographical area. It can attach itself to a church or a class, or it may work in a merely negative sense, against something or other and without the need for any positive object of loyalty.

    By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’(1). But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

    Of course, Orwell then goes on to point out that these sentiments are, in fact, part of all of us and are prevalent in all societies to a varying degree. Hence his closing statements:

    “As for the nationalistic loves and hatreds that I have spoken of, they are part of the make-up of most of us, whether we like it or not. Whether it is possible to get rid of them I do not know, but I do believe that it is possible to struggle against them, and that this is essentially a moral effort. It is a question first of all of discovering what one really is, what one’s own feelings really are, and then of making allowance for the inevitable bias. If you hate and fear Russia, if you are jealous of the wealth and power of America, if you despise Jews, if you have a sentiment of inferiority towards the British ruling class, you cannot get rid of those feelings simply by taking thought. But you can at least recognise that you have them, and prevent them from contaminating your mental processes. The emotional urges which are inescapable, and are perhaps even necessary to political action, should be able to exist side by side with an acceptance of reality. But this, I repeat, needs a moral effort, and contemporary English literature, so far as it is alive at all to the major issues of our time, shows how few of us are prepared to make it.”

  85. FOARP Says:

    I guess I should also add that Orwell has been accused by one author at least (and not entirely unconvincingly) of being racist:


    ( . . . . and that the same author, John Dolan, defended Mao against Jung Chang’s criticism:

    http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=7816&IBLOCK_ID=35 )

    I suppose he was a product of his upbringing and his time, as are all of us, being aware of that is the best defence against errant and misguided thinking.

  86. FOARP Says:

    The last thing I want to say on this is that sentences like this:

    “The violent protests that disrupted the Olympic Torch Relay throughout the Caucasian World (Europe, Australia and North America) never induced “humiliation” in me, nor did the “Genocide Olympics” t-shirts and banners. Instead, they stirred a feeling of invigoration combined with a Cheap Thrill.”

    Really have me wondering about what exactly BXBQ is trying to say. What is ‘the Caucasian world’? Once again, it goes without saying that the very term ‘Caucasian’ is based on an outdated theory of human development – white people do not come from the Caucasus mountain, but from Africa the same as everyone else on this planet, despite what certain scholars might say on the matter vis-a-vis Peking man. Americans might insist on using the term as it sounds more scientific and polite, but in reality it is actually the result of a racist theory of human development. This aside, the message seems somewhat off – is BXBQ trying to say that the protests were racially motivated? Did he think that the purpose of the demonstrations were to humiliate – as someone who did take part in the protests I assure you this was not my purpose, nor did the protests result from ‘frustration’ at anything except China’s record on human rights.

  87. Wukailong Says:

    @FOARP: Don’t you think it’s possible to use the term Caucasian despite the shaky foundations from which it came? If we called it the “white world”, it would be more obvious that we are making the mistake of believing in Europe and the US as being racially homogenous (like China is, more or less, at the moment).

    That’s a reason I would be happy if Obama would be elected: it would show the world that the US isn’t just a “Caucasian country.”

  88. FOARP Says:

    @Wukailong – What is the difference between “White world” and “Caucasian world”?

  89. KONG Says:

    Thanks, FOARP for the two links! Very enlightening.

    Ha ha, Christopher Hitchens. What the great British MP, George Galloway, describes as “The only evolutionary anomaly, I know of, where a man who had turned from a butterfly back into a slug,” (paraphrased) in a debate I heard in some American University a couple of years ago where Galloway totally destroyed Hitchens.

    Ha ha, I like John Dolan’s style: “Americans talk for consensus; for Brits, it’s a martial art. From birth they train for a world of casual verbal cruelty matched in America only by inner-city blacks. (Which is why only blacks in America have the verbal inventiveness to match the Brits.) ”
    “That’s where Hitchens comes in, giving hate a voice.Hate deserves a hearing, after all. And these Brits make it so fuckin’ suave, as Frank Drake would say. Maybe it’s the accent, maybe it’s all that history or buggery or the tea, but damn! They hate so good.”
    “Our native haters can’t cut it next to Hitchens. Next to him, Ann Coulter’s just a goofy Carol Burnett.”
    ” Every time a 19th-c. British author overspent on child prostitutes or laudanum, he or she embarked on an American lecture tour to repair the family finances, following Dickens’ path from one muddy American boomtown to the next.”

    “Orwell’s sheer simple hate for the Burmese. It stuns me to realize that I helped a generation of students overcome their simple, correct instinct (some poor honest kid would always ask, “Isn’t this:kinda racist?” and be talked into seeing the Emperor’s glorious wardrobe by me). Ah, if only somebody rewarded grad students for seeing the obvious, instead of the febrile and unlikely. ”
    ” I’m inclined to choose the dull, obvious explanation for this odd silence: the man was a reactionary, Imperialist racist.”

    “Once you’ve admitted that possibility in reading Orwell, the evidence is everywhere.”

    It shocked me when I first learned that my two of my childhood heroes – Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill – were racists too !

  90. KONG Says:

    Sorry, It should read:
    It shocked me too when I first learned that two of my childhood heroes – Abraham Lincoln was an atheist and together with Winston Churchill were both racists !

  91. FOARP Says:

    @Kong –

    “It shocked me when I first learned that my two of my childhood heroes – Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill – were racists too !”

    I cannot remember ever hearing of either Mao, Stalin, or Kim Jong Il having made a racist statement, but given the choice who would you rather have as a leader? Lincoln and Churchill brought us closer to a world without oppression, but they were also products of their times. As are we.

    Anyway, as much as I admire John Dolan’s hate-filled bile-soaked style of writing (his exposure of James Frey’s fraudulence was a classic), I agree with very little indeed of what he says. It’s advisable to fact-check what he writes against what other people have written before agreeing. Here’s him on academia:


  92. KONG Says:


    If you are trying to turn me into a John Dolan’s fan, you succeeded the first time. This, here, is dessert with coffee: Very nice. Cheers :- )

    “So it had come down to professionalism in the most mainstream American sense: displaying vastly exaggerated enthusiasm … That’s what they were testing for: office skills, solidarity gestures, smile technique — in short, professionalism. So you see, fellow Americans, you have nothing to fear from my successful colleagues in the academic elite. They’re not elite; they’re not liberal (couldn’t care less). They’re like you: total professionals.”

  93. MutantJedi Says:


    Agreed. A bit.

    In your Orwell quote, he admits that he is not using “nationalism” in “quite the ordinary sense”. He massages the word to fit his purpose in his time.

    In a sense, I agree with Orwell’s definition of “patriotism” as “devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people.” However, in his essay, he had a point to make. The essay had a 1945 context. Evil nationalistic Nazis vs the patriots of the world.

    I guess my perspective is that the usage of “patriotism” has made it more like Orwell’s “nationalism.” So much so that the term “patriotism” is doublespeak for “nationalism”. And the other way around too, depending on the speaker. So we routinely call Chinese who are proud of China but have no wish to force it on other people “nationalistic”. And we call American aggression/adventurism “patriotic.” Nationalism is bad patriotism; patriotism is good nationalism. It is just shading.

  94. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    FOART # 86,

    “is BXBQ trying to say that the protests were racially motivated?”

    You cannot ignore a freaking high correlation between 2 variables, how aggressively the countries harassed the Chinese Olympic Torch Bearers, and the racial composition of these countries. The countries that have demonstrated the most militant and belligerent levels of hostility toward the Chinese Torch Bearers overwhelmingly have a Caucasian Majority. White people do not all have roots in the Caucasia regions but they are referred neutrally in all kinds of media in the United States; it is a custom. My term “the Caucasian world” very aptly captures this correlation. We all know a correlational relation between two variables does not prove “causation”; it is just a prerequisite for causation. Maybe the correlation is just a fluke, caused by freak chance. Even if there is a causal relation the direction of causation is open to debate. Maybe harassing the Chinese causes the protesters to have negative feelings toward the Chinese race; you acquires a racial hostility in the process of protesting. Or, maybe having negative feelings toward the Chinese in the first place caused people to harass the Chinese Torch bearers, as you have suggested.

    Although the interpretation is open for debate, the data are indisputable, there is a high correlation between the racial composition of Western Europe, Australia, North America and the level of belligerence toward the Chinese torch bearers. You FOAR served as a living data point when you protested in London.

    I am glad that your personal motivation for protesting the Chinese torch relay was frustration, instead of humiliation. However, here in the United States TV talking heads and pundits and politicians have been using “humiliation” as a catch word all the time.

  95. Nimrod Says:


    But you have to understand Chinese nationals are received with even less friendliness and “understanding” by the Chinese Consulate. So it’s not really discrimination against you. Besides which have you ever had to deal with any embassary officials? Chinese students complain all the time about US visa officials never offering an explanation or being “reasonable.” That’s just the nature of these institutions.

  96. FOARP Says:

    @Mutantjedi – What i would say is this – look at how they behave. Does a patriot wish for his country to have the most powerful military in the world without good reason? Does a patriot display his love of country through hatred of other countries? Does a patriot wish to do down other countries, insulting their histories and culture? Or are these things that nationalists do?

    @BXBQ – Talking of living data points – how about Korea and Japan – where do they fit into your plan? Are they part of the ‘white world’ also? And Russia and Argentina – I suppose they are not part of the ‘white world’?

    You might also note that the overwhelming majority of the torch bearers here in London at least were themselves white.

    The racism was not suggested by me, it shines out of your post.

  97. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    FOARP # 96,

    I wish I knew how to post a graph to show you what a positive correlation looks like. In a rectangular coordinate system, use the horizontal (X) axis to represent a White concentration in a country’s population, from 0 to 100%, and use the vertical (Y) axis to represent the country’s hostility to the Olympic Torch Bearers (from nonexistent to violently high). Plot each country in this two-dimensional space, you will find that as a country’s White concentration goes up (from Japan, Thailand, India, South America and etc. to Western Europe and Australia etc.), hostility to the Torch Bearers goes up in a more or less proportionate way. You find a very strong, highly statistically significant positive correlation. The existence of outliers, countries such as Russia (high White concentration but low hostility) that violate the positive correlation does not refute the positive correlation. It simply shows that the relations between the variables are complex and cannot be fully accounted for by the correlation and additional variables need to be added for a more complete explanation.
    As I said, the interpretation of this correlation is open to debate. But the Data are very clear.

    The fact that even White Torch Bearers got attacked and harassed demonstrates that you do not have to be Chinese to receive hostile treatments, being associated with the Chinese Olympics is quite enough.

  98. Geraldine Watson Says:

    I enjoyed reading your story. This kind of reminds me of the two Iraqi guys who blogged right up until the fall of Saddam (RIP) It was the only truth coming out of Iraq at the time. Keep up the good work.

  99. JL Says:

    Ok, I think this is the point where I stop reading these posts.
    The same tired arguement over and over; “white people are all biased against China”; we get the message guys; no real evidence or analysis necessary; (we can see it on a graph –if we ignore India and South Korea)
    If the French president came to the opening ceremony, it must be because of China’s money and guns. If CCTV showed his face, it must be because they want to make a political point. If “we Chinese” cheered for America, it must be because “we Chinese” just wanted to emphasise how even the protesters had to come to our Olympics.
    It’s us vs you. The scheming whites vs plucky heroic Chinese.
    I get the message BXBQ, not one I will ever agree with, I’ll come back if you ever have anything else to say.

  100. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    Geraldine Watson,

    Thanks for the encouragement. The pleasure is entirely mine.


    I am fine now, nothing on my chest. It feels good to get my thoughts out. Do come back if I have something else to say.

  101. Wahaha Says:

    JL and FOARP,

    Read this :


  102. George Says:

    You guys are smoking some serious crack. I realize you hate us for what we are. It’s really ironic that you claim Muslims hate you for you’re values when you really hate everyone else for their values. If you ppl hold to these convictions there is really not even any point to having dialogue. The Chinese ppl like myself support our government and our country in the overwhelming majority. And just like the Muslisms and any other ppl you meet on this Earth, we are willing to die to defend our values. And if you can’t tolerate our values then bring it on. Seriously stop talking trash and do something about it, see if you can stop us. Oh I get it, you think by talking about it with other white ppl, your gonna stop us. Lets face it you can’t stop us and you can’t change us and the only way for us to be stopped is if you can convince your governments to commit mass genocide against us. And check this out for us to win, all we have to do is survive and prosper. You see how the deck is stack against you. You have to kill us all to win and all have to do to win is survive. I give you guys another 25 yrs, after that you have no shot. We are going to be the most powerfull nation and ppl on the planet, the strongest economically, militarily and technologically. Many of the overseas Chinese who you think are on your side are going to betray you. Your already seeing some of it today. Gee I wonder why Chinese ppl raised in western democracies with no contact to the Chinese government choose loyalty to an authoritarian dictatorship to your liberal democracy. In case you haven’t figured it out it’s because of our values you dumbasses but of course you wouldn’t know that because you never bothered to find out anything about our values.

    Given that I said diologue now seems moot so why do I bother to write this response. This is just to let you know, we’re out there and we’re going to beat you. We’re going to become better than you, and we’re going to surpass you and never look back. Like a good novel this is a foreshadow of things to come. So bring it on, take your best shot and watch us put you on ur ass every time you strike.

    Also I don’t want to hear any of this bullshit about why don’t you go back to your own country BS. I’m here in your country because there is a point for me to be in your country. The point is to earn as much money as I can here and learn as much as I can here and then bring that back to my country, not before but after. So to the stupid question of why are we in your country when we like our own country better is obvious and its because we do it because it is the best way to serve our country.

  103. RED WARRIOR Says:

    George: Looks like you’re ready for the “Asian Century.”

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