Sticks and Stones

Andrei Marks · April 8, 2008

Editorial on a recent criticism of the Olympics in a foreign newspaper and the Party’s response to it. I’m not supportive of calls to boycott the Olympics, or even using the Olympics to call attention to China’s internal or human rights problems. Of course these things should be criticized, but the Olympics is only a convenient place to do it, not the best way to do it. I won’t say I’d wish it this way to preserve the sanctity of the Games, that’s silly and history doesn’t bear out that ideal. Rather, by holding back now, a ton of headaches will be averted in the future. I can imagine that were there some big embarrassment at an Olympics in the States (e.g. anti-war protests), the affair would be shrugged off in a matter of months. If the same thing were to happen in China, it will go down in the history books as the Great Olympic Insult and will be taught to schoolchildren for decades. If there’s one thing Chinese government has been good at it’s maintaining a sense of indignation for past events, well after the fact. Is it presently relevant that the 八国军 (Eight Nation Army) sacked Beijing and destroyed the original Summer Palace well over a century ago? You’d think it might be from what you read in the history books here.

Maybe I just don’t want to hear anything about it in the future. Anyway, from the March 23rd, 2008 editorial section of the Southern Weekend, by Cao Xin.

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Who Does a Single Newspaper Represent Anyway?

England’s “The Times” compared the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the 1936 Olympics of Hitler’s Germany, and several days ago a spokesperson from China’s Foreign Ministry denounced the claim. He said that by placing the Beijing Olympics on par with Germany’s 1936 Olympics, this paper was insulting the Chinese people, and in fact insulting all the peoples of the world. The Olympic flame symbolizes humanity’s fine aspirations and pursuits, and it also illuminates the darkness and baseness of a people’s mentality, allowing the entire world to clearly see their true face.

Gemeilian (sorry, don’t know the English equiv.), the news attaché of Germany’s embassy in Beijing, explained to a Southern Weekend reporter that the reason why Germany’s 1936 Olympics continues to be widely criticized is that this was the first time in Olympic history that Hitler’s regime used large scale means to show off the successes of Hitler’s political power and Nazi nationalism. They turned the Olympics into a propaganda platform. The reporter asked, “But doesn’t every country use the Olympics as a chance to put forward a good face to the world? Isn’t this normal?” Gemeilian answered, “Using the Olympics to promote and exhibit oneself is normal, but here the problem was Hitler. He used the Olympics to display the accomplishments of Nazi nationalism and the Fascist regime.”

China has never spread a doctrine of Chinese national or racial superiority throughout the world. The successes of China’s 30 years of reform and opening have been affirmed by the entire world, and is currently making great and positive contributions to the world economy. Comparing these two Olympic Games like this, is it really necessary to denounce this?

Actually, from the point of view of Western or civic society, who does a single newspaper represent? It can only represent itself. It might want to stir something up, but there’s no need to let it stir anything up. When the Foreign Ministry spokesperson made their denouncement, objectively they simply advertised for this media outlet, and that is just what they’d want.

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