China, the Olympics and the CCP

Chinese Olympic medal winners express tremendous gratitude for their victories — and it’s the CCP they thank the most.

“I owe my Olympic gold medal to my parents, my coach and, above all, to the wise leadership of the Republican Party and President Bush.” Can anybody imagine such a remark from an American athlete speaking to Fox News Network? Of course not. Not even the irreverent, wise-cracking talk show host Jay Leno has such a fertile imagination.

But when it comes to Chinese athletes, this extravagant tribute to the political leadership of a country is anything but fictional in the 28th Olympic Games now under way in Athens. The minute a young Chinese girl bagged the gold medal in the women’s table-tennis singles final on Sunday, a Beijing TV network reporter stuck a microphone under the nose of her parents. The father, without batting an eye, told the audience that his good daughter was a good Communist Party member and her success was a tribute to the party organization. We can only imagine the hyperbolic tributes, straining credulity, when Beijing hosts the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The article looks at the huge role the CCP plays in the lives of these athletes, before the games and after.

I once had the good luck of interviewing a famous Chinese athlete a few years ago, and after my conversation with her, I realized just how close a relationship China’s government has with its Olympic stars. Hopefully I’ll find time to post about that later tonight.

The Discussion: 17 Comments

“Why in the world is the Chinese government, galloping on the capitalist road, willing to go to such expenses when it is now allowing private and even foreign ownership in most industries?”

“Few countries produce as many world-class sports champions as China does”

Please look at Australia – a nation of 20 million sports-crazy people. Sportsmen and women are their Gods and heros.

For such a small country (less than 7% of the USA population), Australia has won 50% of what the USA has won, emerging 4th overall, with 49 medals from 17 gold, 16 silver and 16 bronze.

Australia’s best known secret is its Australia Institute of Sports, which spots Aussie talent, enlists them in programmes, sponsors or helps seek sponsors for them, helps athletes obtain jobs near designated training centres, trains them, motivates them.

It employs the best coaches in the world for them [for women gym, coaches from China, for archery and tae kwon doe from Korea, and diving, from China again (they won 6 medals comprising 1 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze in diving since getting the chinese coaches), etc]

You name it sports-wise, the AIS does it. Cricket, golf, even winter sports considering Aus is not really a real winter-sporting country like, say, Austria, Norway or the USA because of its scarcity of winter sporting facilities – not cold enough to have snow all over except occasionally in the high mountains. And Australia has won gold in a couple of winter events, though one was a bit of a lucky break when all the top dogs fell in a heap during an event.

Sponsorship is NOT a problem in this sports-fanatical nation, nor would professional life after active sports, ’cause the entertainment media, companies and whatnot are waiting to grab these veterans onto lucrative jobs and postings, even a directorship on some Boards.

No matter what rewards China gives to its top athletes and coaches, particularly the latter, it will not be able to match offers from western nations like Australia, let alone richer countries like the USA or Europe. She will keep losing them as she has lost some top martial arts experts/trainers to the West.

For the Australian Institute of Sports Have a look at http://www.ausport.gov.au/index.asp

Extracts:

“The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) leads the development of elite sport and is widely acknowledged in Australia and internationally as a world best practice model for elite athlete development. The AIS is a pre-eminent elite sports training institution in Australia with world class facilities and support services.

AIS scholarship holders to become tomorrow’s world-beaters and all the information on how to join the AIS family is available through the scholarships section.

The AIS has been the nation’s sports training powerhouse mainly due to the AIS facilities and the cutting edge Sports Science Sports Medicine support. Learn all about both these aspects of the AIS through this site.”

Govt policy? See following:

“Backing Australia┬┤s Sporting Ability – A More Active Australia

In April 2001, the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP, and the Minister for Sport and Tourism, the Hon Jackie Kelly MP, jointly launched a new policy statement for the sport & recreation industry. This document, “Backing Australia┬┤s Sporting Ability – A More Active Australia”, outlines a twofold policy objective – to assist our best athletes to reach new peaks of excellence and to increase the pool of talent from which our future world champions will emerge. The result is a sports policy for all Australians, one to back our best athletes and to encourage greater community participation in sport, especially by young people.”

August 30, 2004 @ 12:19 am | Comment

Link in previous posting is for the Australian Sports Commission, the parent body fo the AIS. A more direct link is http://www.ais.org.au/

August 30, 2004 @ 12:41 am | Comment

I only managed to watch some of the games this weekend and I noticed that when Chinese althletes won the gold medal (e.g. Hu Jia for men’s diving and Xing Huina women’s 10,000m), their faces were so expression-less. They didn’t exhibit the kind of excitement other althletes did. It was strange and I wonder why.

August 30, 2004 @ 12:59 am | Comment

“They didn’t exhibit the kind of excitement other althletes did.” – Did you actually watch the live broadcast or was it not your fault because it was “maliciously” editted out by your local TV broadcaster?
The winner of women’s 10,000m, Xing HuiNa was so excited about her win, I recalled the very first words she uttered were, “Daddy, I won!”. Then she did a victory lap around the stadium with the Chinese flag on her back. 1.3 billion people saw this, and for you to come and say you saw nothing. Please dont push it, it’s not nice to twist the facts.

August 30, 2004 @ 1:19 am | Comment

We’re watching from different places, obviously. I haven’t seen all the facial expressions at the moment of winning, but I have seen many of them when they take the podium, and I’ve been surprised how many have been overcome with tears of joy and pride. It’s usually at the moment of facing the flag, too. It’s obvious that their feelings of pride and attachment to the motherland are strong. You don’t see that on your TV broadcasts?

August 30, 2004 @ 2:36 am | Comment

I suspect where Andrea is from, the moment when China wins gold in an event they go to a commerical break…

August 30, 2004 @ 2:46 am | Comment

I wasn’t able to watch any U.S. Olympic coverage this time around; was there a lot of God-thanking going on? That’s something that I find mildly irritating — as if God had nothing better to do than to cause some athlete to win a silver medal instead of a bronze.

But this, of course, is not nearly as barf-inducing as the multiple paeans to the CCP we’ll all be subjected to in four years’ time.

August 30, 2004 @ 3:53 am | Comment

You seem to be the strange one, Andrea.

August 30, 2004 @ 5:38 am | Comment

This has to do with the uncomfortable fact that it is no accident that the Olympics were born in a culture that admired individual human greatness, and reborn during the peak of a technological revolution that liberated western Europe from bondage to kings.
What inspires us in the Olympics has nothing to do with nationalism.

Many years after it happened, many of us still remember the perfect 10 by Nadia Comaneci. Why? We’re not Romanian, after all.

It’s because her achievement inspires us to recognize the potential nobility of the individual human spirit.

Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the modern games said: “The Olympiads have been re-established for the rare and solemn glorification of the individual athlete.”

China has a long way to go in liberating itself from political bondage, and athletes who have achieved perfection through their own efforts probably realize that the CCP is in an arrested state of collective psychological development, and feels threatened by individual excellence that doesn’t owe allegiance to the Party. So the athletes go overboard in proclaiming their thanks to the motherland and the CCP, cheapening their own achievements in the process.

This doesn’t just apply to China, by the way.

August 30, 2004 @ 5:56 am | Comment

Although I noticed many emotional displays, I wonder if the Chinese, like the Koreans, view profusive displays of emotion unseemly. Koreans, like US military personnel, generally do not smile for photos. Its even considered bad luck for brides and grooms to smile in wedding photos. Perhaps some of these Chinese athletes are a bit more conventional and traditional than others

August 30, 2004 @ 5:04 pm | Comment

Also, I wonder how this praise for the CCP compares with western athletes who praise God after a win. I also wonder if the praise was genuine, scripted, or just a wise inclusion by pragmatic, but uncontrolled individuals.

August 30, 2004 @ 5:07 pm | Comment

Some on this thread thinks that the Mainland Chinese praising the CCP is silly. Why, and by whose value?

Though of Chinese stock myself, I would not do what the Mainland Chinese have done, because I was not brought up in a wholly Chinese environment and under very strong Confucian influence with respect for superiors (communism has been there for only 50 years, Confucianism exists for thousands), but I respect the Chinese for their wish to praise whoever they want to.

There is always this insistence in the West that desires, nay, demands that others would be judged by its own standards and values. As Infidel correctly pointed out, what about the propensity of some western or Muslim athletes to thank and give praise to their Almighty, after being victorious! I definitely wouldn’t do that myself, but I am not judgemental on such behaviour.

August 30, 2004 @ 7:27 pm | Comment

And to emphasize my point, I would like to share an Indonesian saying “Lain padang, lain belalang”, meaning ‘other fields have other types of dragonflies’.

August 30, 2004 @ 7:32 pm | Comment

The fencing silver medalist jumped around after practically every point he won, and his victory celebrations were quite emotional. The volleyball team, too, was certainly not stoic. On the flip side, the American skeet winner didn’t seem too thrilled to win the gold…

After one of the shooting events, won I think by the “old man” of the shooting team, the interviewer asked him about a Chairman Mao pin that he wears all the time. His answer was that he truly believes in Chairman Mao, and reads his selected works every day, that it was very applicable to life and to his sport.

The interviewer asked him what specific Thought had made an impression on him recently, and went into a discussion of the practical application of Mao’s theory of contradictions to target shooting.

Change Mao to God and his selected works to the Bible, and you have a victory interview in the US.

August 30, 2004 @ 7:48 pm | Comment

As strange as it may seem to those in america, where communism is unholy and authoritarianism is heresy… the chinese, for the most part, does not share your hatred of the CCP.

To the chinese, it is, really, the same as any other government. The people of china do not take an instant dislike to them for not being a democracy. There is the rah-rah team. There is the dissenters. There is the people who don’t mind so long as they do a good job and stay out of the way.

They might not, and they might not. But the same could be said for the Republicans.

As for the rest… sour grapes, any one?

August 31, 2004 @ 11:57 am | Comment

Asia by Blog

I’m going to make an offer. If you send a trackback ping to this Asia by Blog series, I will look to include a relevant post of yours in the following edition. I’m also going to cut back on the number of links in each edition to prevent this from getti…

September 2, 2004 @ 1:23 am | Comment

Asia by Blog

I’m going to make an offer. If you send a trackback ping to this Asia by Blog series, I will look to include a relevant post of yours in the following edition. I’m also going to cut back on the number of links in each edition to prevent this from getti…

September 2, 2004 @ 1:29 am | Comment

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