The gymnast controversy – China’s censors at work

Raj

The following article from the Globe and Mail gives an interesting point-of-view on the controversy over the age of some of China’s gold-medal winning women’s gymnastics team.

What is really creepy about what’s emerged from the reporting of the gymnastics controversy is how state-owned agencies have rewritten themselves online to “correct” the record – in other words, rewritten history and attempted to expunge any contrary evidence…

What the researchers also found was that in several instances, the stories which had reported the ‘wrong’ ages – either written before the girls in question made the Olympic team or before anyone realized age mattered so much, the numbers were simply mentions in results-driven stories about various competitions – have been corrected to reflect the ‘right’, or state-approved, ages.

It is unlikely that a smoking gun will be found to prove that one or more of the Chinese girls was under-age, even if there is a lot of circumstantial evidence. The international gymnastics body certainly doesn’t seem to care, given it didn’t even query China’s story, which probably shows the depth of its “commitment” to stop young girls being exploited (one should note that there is no requirement on daily calorie consumption as the G & M observes).

So it makes the reaction of the Chinese authorities idiotic for two reasons – one as it only gives further fuel to those who doubt the official line and two because it demonstrates clearly to the outside world the Chinese State’s ability and willingness to manipulate the media. People only somewhat (or not at all) interested in China may have heard stories about censorship before, but with the attention this incident has caused around the world the subsequent “cover-up” has clearly shattered any possible reputation for media independence China has been trying to create (and will make it even more difficult to build any such status in the future).

The article finishes:

So, in the end, it’s not the Chinese gymnasts or how old they are that counts; it’s the Chinese censors propagandists and professional liars, and what they’re doing, that tells the tale.

One very said thing is that I doubt the Chinese authorities even realise the damage they were causing to how China is seen around the world.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 76 Comments

“Exploited” is way overboard in describing these athletes.
There is no age rule for a lot of other sports, this particular age rule is very recent, and makes no sense given that gymnasts generally peak at age 14-16.

August 17, 2008 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

I agree with boo. China is not going to abide by rules that China is incapable of making sense with. Only rules that makes Chinese sense should be adopted by any international organization. And China reserves the right to violate them, and lie about them, anytime China wishes.

August 17, 2008 @ 10:41 pm | Comment

All Governments lie, everyday of the week twice on sunday. I dont know if lying about athletes’ age(or not)can qualify one as “professional liars”, I mean at least they didnt lie in front of whole world about WMD, and caused quater million people to die.

August 17, 2008 @ 11:09 pm | Comment

Bill, I’m not saying anything about China, I’m saying the rule is not supported even in the gymnastic community, and that gymnasts that break it are not being exploited. The fact that the athletes happen to be Chinese in this case is not relevant.

August 17, 2008 @ 11:24 pm | Comment

There are rules and regulations governing all events and the relevant bodies in each country are fully aware of them. The girls cannot be blamed in this case, but their coaches, parents, and governing body certainly can. They knowingly broke competition rules (also called cheating) believing that they could get away with it; they were right.

August 17, 2008 @ 11:43 pm | Comment

boo, when girls peak as gymnasts is irrelevant. What is the TOP PRIORITY is their long-term health and physical development. If girls are forced to compete from too young an age it can cause them problems that will last them after they have finished their sporting careers. There is no need for age restrictions in other Olympic sports because children are not put forward as athletes.

I can imagine a number/majority of gymastics countries object because their priority is to win medals, not protect the health of those girls.

As for them being Chinese, their nationality is significant for many people because they are the hosts and won the gold medal – thus they have a higher profile. But this article is more about the way the authorities have dealt with the situation by re-writing the media history.

August 18, 2008 @ 12:18 am | Comment

By the way, stuart, you have already been proven right on point 5 of your list of Olympic predictions – did you put any money down on # 1?

August 18, 2008 @ 12:24 am | Comment

Yes, a lot of the girls from many countries look suspiciously younger than 16. And it is very worrying that this is a sport in which female competitors “peak” when barely into their teens. I don’t doubt that the “gymnastic community” is largely resentful of the age restrictions, and that many national bodies are tempted to bend the rules from time to time. But it’s really not healthy to be training that hard and doing such extreme things to your body when you’re pre-pubescent, so these rules have been created for a good reason.

However, I have found – after much time online trying to find out exactly what the rules are – that there may be some considerable areas of uncertainty in the regulations. So, the kids have to be 16 when they’re competing in the Olympics, but what was the last allowable date on which they could turn 16? What was the last date on which their Olympic entry could be registered, and did they have to be 16 then as well? What was the last date on which they could qualify as being of an eligible standard to compete in the Olympics? It does seem a bit of a nonsense to have a 16-year-old rule for major tournaments like the Olympics, but not for all the various warm-up tournaments in which these girls are practising and qualifying.

Whether the rules are clear, fair, or sensible is kind of a side issue here, though. The basic rule of Olympic eligibility is clear enough; and there does seem to be substantial reason to believe that at least one of the Chinese team (possibly all of them?) was seriously underage.

Because China is the host nation – and because it has propagandised so heavily around the idea of being such a passionate upholder of the Olympic ideals – it must expect to come under sterner scrutiny and to have to try to meet higher standards than any other competing nation. When such doubts are raised, it is not enough to issue standard tight-lipped denials and brandish the DOB on a passport. We need a really thorough investigation into this (instigated by the Chinese authorities, of their own volition – regardless of the apathy or incompetence of the world governing body of the sport); we need a welter of evidence supporting the supposed dates of birth, not just an easily faked passport (school records, birth certificates, competition entry records for every major event they’ve ever taken part in, everything); interviews with anyone who ever knew them; hell, maybe even polygraph tests on the girls. Really. I mean, if you want to try to convince a sceptical world, one passport isn’t even going to begin to cut it. You need to pull out all the stops.

And now that the inept state media have aggravated the suspicions by removing or amending the online stories which originally gave rise to the doubts about He Kexin’s age, that becomes part of the problem too. We need to investigate and explain why they were “wrong” about her age in the first place, and why they so suddenly tried to change the record this last week.

If you overlay a fuck-up with a botched cover-up, it becomes ten times worse. This seems to be a lesson the Chinese are still struggling to master.

August 18, 2008 @ 12:35 am | Comment

“One very said thing is that I doubt the Chinese authorities even realise the damage they were causing to how China is seen around the world.”

They don’t give a shit about how China is seen around the world. They only care about how they can control internal opinion and knowledge and keep themselves in power. Nothing else matters.

August 18, 2008 @ 1:29 am | Comment

froog, I could be wrong, but am I right to say that the current rules are that a girl must TURN 16 during an Olympic year? I.e. it’s ok if they compete at 15 if their birthday is no later than 31st December? Or do they have to be 16 by the time they compete?

August 18, 2008 @ 2:21 am | Comment

Great post.

The sad thing is that many in the Chinese blogosphere are attributing Western concern over this to “jealousy,” which is a crock. I like how the Globe & Mail cited to Phillip Pan’s book, Out of Mao’s Shadow. I just finished it and it is absolutely excellent.

August 18, 2008 @ 3:12 am | Comment

Bush lied about Iraq, so China gets to lie and cheat at the Olympics. Everyone knows that. Also, anyone who points out that the Chinese team is cheating is just jealous that China won by cheating.

Do I have that right?

August 18, 2008 @ 8:20 am | Comment

@HongWang:
What right? A right to assume that we are jealous of your cheating? bizarre and totally illogical…

By your logic, then we are to assume that you are really not criticizing the invasion of Iraq, but in fact are just jealous that the US got their oil first?

how cut and dry, black and white, the world seems to some people.

August 18, 2008 @ 9:30 am | Comment

Sorry, Raj, my trawl through the rules came up blank on that point. The FIG rules for general competitions are absurdly complicated, with different age limits for different varieties of the sport (which are not defined anyway, at least not in that section: is beam ‘acrobatic’ or ‘artistic’??), but no specifics on when the relevant age is calculated. Presumably there are more specific rules about the Olympics, but I have found it impossible to dig them out of the BOCOG or IOC sites.

I’ve heard that rumour/speculation a lot as well, but you’d think, wouldn’t you, that if that were the case, Kexin’s hastily fabricated passport would give her DOB as 31st December rather than 1st January? I thought that was probably more a case of treating their sports stars (with their manufactured-to-order ID documents) like racehorses: they’re all born on January 1st!

I’m intrigued as to whether there is a centrally mandated (I hesitate to say “co-ordinated”, because almost nothing in China – apart from its athletes – seems very successfully co-ordinated to me) cover-up, or whether Xinhua and China Daily were acting spontaneously to try to amend “the record”. Whoever was behind it, in the circumstances this was not helpful.

I’d really like to see China come clean on this.

But then, I’d like to see them come clean on anything. Honesty doesn’t feature prominently in the national discourse here, does it? And they criticise the Japanese for lack of self-reflection!

August 18, 2008 @ 10:16 am | Comment

None of this is surprising.

Everyone knows that the IOC and every one of the governing bodies are as corrupt as they come. What else would anyone expect from a national body? They can’t police themselves, why would they pursue any other body?

August 18, 2008 @ 10:31 am | Comment

“By the way, stuart, you have already been proven right on point 5 of your list of Olympic predictions – did you put any money down on # 1?”

Yes, but slightly less than Beijing spent on securing the top spot.

August 18, 2008 @ 11:08 am | Comment

Dan,

Hmmm, where in Chinese blogosphere did you see “many” people accusing the west of being jealous? So far what I have read pins it on “the typical shark-smelling-blood western reaction which nitpicks everything the Chinese do”. I sort of agree. I don’t think it is jealousy (of course had the Americans won the gold there probably wouldn’t be so much fuss about it), it is just another thing that the west would use to pick on China. Boy, don’t they just “love” the Chinese?

Raj,

Is there any “circumstantial evidence” evidence support your claim “if girls are forced to compete from too young an age it can cause them problems that will last them after they have finished their sporting careers”? And just how young is “too young”?

“One very said thing is that I doubt the Chinese authorities even realise the damage they were causing to how China is seen around the world.”

China’s image is a lost cause. Thanks to its clumsey government and its unsophisticated people, hypocrtical western governments, pathetic western media, some very self-righteous folks and resident China-critics/cynics like you, China’s image is already lost. China can’t seem to do anything right. Communist, capitalist, nationalist whatever, China can never win.

August 18, 2008 @ 11:20 am | Comment

Pfeffer, is that sarcasm, or are you just talking out of your arse?

China’s image is not a lost cause. China has been perceived very positively around the rest of the world on many occasions recently; most notably, of course, the response to the Sichuan earthquake – the media coverage of it, the generosity and compassion of the relief efforts, the visits to the area by CCP leaders (especially Wen) – was a huge positive for China, and it almost entirely offset all the negative PR of preceding months concerning the suppression of the Tibetan protests and the problems with the Olympic Torch Relay. Hu’s visit to America went over very well too; he even got sympathy for having to suffer the heckling of that FLG protester, and the general gaucheness of The Shrub. These Olympics too have been very largely positive in their impression: the Games are running very smoothly, and are producing some fantastic sport.

My greatest concern with these age-faking allegations in the gymnastics is that if China keeps on stonewalling on the issue, it will undo so much of this good PR so far. They really need to PROVE – quite conclusively, overwhelmingly, beyond any shadow of a doubt – how old those girls are….. or put their hands up and give those medals back. Just saying “Of course they’re old enough, leave us alone” isn’t going to cut it.

August 18, 2008 @ 1:26 pm | Comment

@Pffefer: I don’t know if I agree with you. I have seen some very positive news stories on China, especially since the Opening Ceremony. I think the problem is that China sees it’s strengths as weaknesses. For example, I have seen positive stories about rural farmers, hard-working students, and families who willingly sacrifice for each other, as well as the stories froog mentions. These are ideals that the Western world really respects. Heck, the West could learn a lot from China when it comes to taking care of your family and working hard. But these people – the “strengths” of China – seem to appear to the Party as embarrassments. When the thousands of migrant workers had finished years of back-breaking labor to transform Beijing, what did the Party do? Kick them out, so Beijing wouldn’t look “poor”. I guarantee that if Beijing would have held a mini-ceremony honoring all the people who worked so hard to get everything ready for the Olympics, you would’ve seen some positive coverage.

But that’s not what we get from the Party. Instead, we saw a juggernaut drive to sterilize the city, tearing down houses, flooding Beijing with police, and getting rid of anybody who wasn’t “good enough” to be seen. We saw suppression of earthquake victims’ parents. We saw blatant lies regarding Olympic promises. These things might be acceptable to the Chinese mindset (individuals can suffer if society as a whole benefits), but they’re distasteful to Western ideals (although Western actions in this area are sometimes hypocritical). The point being, negative news isn’t generated because anyone “hates” China – it’s generated because of differences in cultural values, as well as the Party’s continuing screw-ups as it attempts to repeatedly prove its legitimacy.

I know many Chinese find fault with the West’s tendency to separate Chinese people from the Chinese government. But that is how the Western mindset works. I don’t want to be represented by the Bush Administration or any other government. I’m sure most Britons would say they are very different from Blair or Brown. Take a look at all that “negative news”: is it directed towards the real China, the vast majority made up of ordinary Chinese people? Or is it directed mostly at the CCP, that small group of ruling elite who claim to speak for and represent the real China? I think if you take an honest look, you will find that Westerners aren’t as “anti-China” as you claim.

…and by the way, Western media routinely rips on their own governments, reporting negative news all the time (many of them see that as their duty). China is just getting a taste of what we’ve had to deal with for a long time – and China will be better for it in the end.

August 18, 2008 @ 2:10 pm | Comment

“So far what I have read pins it on “the typical shark-smelling-blood western reaction which nitpicks everything the Chinese do.”

I disagree. Complaining that the minority Children in the opening ceremony were not minorities is nitpicking, although it does indicate a certain lack of taste on the part of the organisers. But a team that complains that another team is cheating in a sporting event and has at least a well-founded suspicion isn’t nitpicking. From everything I have read, the suspicion is very well founded, and is made even stronger by the modification of the stories that have the girls ages in them. It is the responsibility of the Chinese to allay those suspicions, and if the girls truly are of age, there should be many more ways of doing than than showing a passport. It wouldn’t take them long or cost much, it would enhance the credibility of the Chinese team, and it would make the American team look bitter. So what would the harm be for China?

August 18, 2008 @ 4:32 pm | Comment

“I know many Chinese find fault with the West’s tendency to separate Chinese people from the Chinese government. But that is how the Western mindset works.”

Um…. that is how the human mindset works, B. Smith, not just the Western mindset. People identify things they don’t understand by making shortcuts between a noticeable facet of that thing and the thing itself. It is called stereotyping. Chinese do it too.

August 18, 2008 @ 4:35 pm | Comment

Got to feel sorry for Nastia Liukin of the USA … just finished second (same score) to one of the diaper girls on the uneven bars. She looked like she’d been cheated out of the gold. I’m certain she’s right – there’s simply no way that waif is 16, even if re-education has convinced her she is.

August 18, 2008 @ 7:22 pm | Comment

[...] Coverup It seem’s that the real ages of Olympic athletes isn’t the only thing being covered up during the olympic games. At the Olympic Games here, you drink Coca-Cola beverages, eat [...]

August 19, 2008 @ 12:12 am | Pingback

Froog,

I can’t recall where I saw it, but there was a global survey before the Olympics and one of the question was “Do you view China favorably or unfavorably”, something like that. The results were pretty astonding and yet predictable: Vast majority of those who in the west saw China very negatively. There was also another survey focused on how Chinese and Americans see each other, I don’t remember the details but I thought it revealed that China had surpassed North Korea and Iran and became the No.2 enemy, second to Iraq (?). Seriously, you know what I mean. The sympathy and pity received after the Sichuan quake are overrated.

B.Smith,

I understand where you are coming from and I think you made some very valid points. I am not saying they hate China, I don’t see why they do or should. Western mainstream media’s coverage of China so far has been mostly two-pronged: (1) They talk about how repressive the Chinese government is, i.e. human rights violations, Tibet, blah blah blah. The typical approach here is writing about some very miserable people’s plight, ranging from “oppressed” ethnic Tibetans, Uighurs to poor migrant workers and city dwellers, whoever have loads of complaints. The stuff churned out from these western reporters is so predictable these days as if they all came out the same person. (2) They propped up China as a threat to the west by exaggerating China’s capabilities and outreach. The favorite topic of late is China’s activities on the African continent. I see a lot of hypocrisies.

Of course China has fucked up many times and the Chinese have nobody but themselves to blame. But when you think about how negative China’s image has become, you can’t help wondering how it came about. The western media played a big role in this. If you are somebody who reads the stuff they have been writing about China all these years, what is your impression? Of course it is not going to be good at all. But that is just ONE of the many faces of China, not the only one. When Metro ran a cover story ridiculing the Beijing Olympics all they mentioned was the typical BS such as “occupation of Tibet”, “human rights violations” etc., even those cheerleading squads at every venue were ridiculed as “fake”. Is it all there is about the Beijing Games? Is it journalism at its best?

I am not saying those “negative news” did not happen, chances are they did. Once again I am saying that’s just ONE of the many faces of China. If all you do is reporting the “negative news” you are pretty much distorting the message and the picture that you are conveying. That’s why I said China’s image is a lost cause and China just can’t win no matter what it does.

August 19, 2008 @ 1:03 am | Comment

If all you do is reporting the “negative news” you are pretty much distorting the message and the picture that you are conveying. That’s why I said China’s image is a lost cause and China just can’t win no matter what it does.

Or China could get used to the fact that the foreign media isn’t like its own. For example, the UK media is just as critical of the Labour government than it is the Chinese government – despite the fact that the latter is far worse than the former when it comes to things like civil rights.

It’s to do with attitudes. Chinese are used to lots of good news about their country from the domestic media, so they aren’t used to series of critical articles. If they lived somewhere like Europe and read the local media criticising those countries’ administrations they might realise things are done differently elsewhere.

August 19, 2008 @ 5:40 am | Comment

Raj,

It is about perspectives. You can write about negative stuff (stuff critical of the British government, for example) all day in the UK and the British public knows that Britain is not a hell hole that these negative stuff made it out to be, because they live there, they know what is going on in Britain. When the target is a foreign country that you are not familiar with and all you hear is the negative stuff without any perspectives provided, chances are you are going to think that this XXX place is really messed up. It is possible that this XXX place is indeed messed up, but don’t you want to present them the whole picture and leave the judgement to the readers?

For example if I listen to VOA, RFA and Deutsche Welle all day I am going to reach my conclusion that China is totally fucked up, few Chinese are happy and the CCP is on the verge of total collapse. Granted that “mainstream” media outlets are generally better than these propaganda oulets, but the message they are conveying is not that different.

August 19, 2008 @ 6:50 am | Comment

By Pffefer@臭狗屁
你说的太好了!

August 19, 2008 @ 9:20 am | Comment

>>When the target is a foreign country that you are not familiar with and all you hear is the negative stuff without any perspectives provided

Maybe the negative stuff is all YOU hear, did you ever consider that? In other words, you simply don’t notice the fact that there are plenty of balanced stories about China in the mainstream Western press. There are plenty of stories about the changes taking place in China and the fact that Chinese are getting richer and drink coffee at Starbucks, blah blah blah. But you only notice the “negative” stories about China. Well, unfortunately the entire point of the press is to point out negative things that governments don’t want people to see. THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT OF PRESS — well, at least in the West. It isn’t to “create harmony” or improve your country’s self-esteem.

I should also point out that the biggest problem of the mainstream Western press, especially in the US, is that it isn’t critical or “negative” enough — not about China or anything else. And, no, the press shouldn’t be “unbiased” because there is no such thing. It should, however, have room for different biases and points of view to be heard. Then people can make their own judgments.

August 19, 2008 @ 2:23 pm | Comment

Props HongWang |Well, unfortunately the entire point of the press is to point out negative things that governments don’t want people to see. THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT OF PRESS — well, at least in the West. It isn’t to “create harmony” or improve your country’s self-esteem|

I feel the same way and I think this misinterpretation of the role of media/press is a major foundation of many Chinese grievances against western media. The two media systems are so insanely divergent of one another. Polar opposites. Failure to interpret the Chinese media role as the guardian of harmony results in misunderstandings on the western side as well.

That said though, I’m strongly in support of the ‘rabble-rousing, mud-slinging, photo-cropping, social harmony wrecking ball” that is the western media.

They are an important cog in the never ending battle to keep people, governments and politicians honest. I mean…private internet hunts and anti-XYXY are a perfect example of western media influence on traditional Chinese outlets.

August 19, 2008 @ 5:00 pm | Comment

Raj,
If it’s true, as you say, that “If (the Chinese) lived somewhere like Europe and read the local media criticising those countries’ administrations they might realise things are done differently elsewhere”, how do you account for the fact that a lot of overseas Chinese are in fact even more vociferous in their defence of China against “western media bias”? You know what I mean…

August 19, 2008 @ 8:35 pm | Comment

how do you account for the fact that a lot of overseas Chinese are in fact even more vociferous in their defence of China against “western media bias”?

Those who are temporary visitors rarely read domestic publications – those I’ve known in this country almost exclusively read Chinese-language resources. For those who are citizens of other countries, again I don’t know how much they take an interest in the domestic media other than getting general information. Certainly I’d like to get one to justify why the foreign media should be nicer to China than they are to their own governments.

August 19, 2008 @ 9:32 pm | Comment

@Pffefer: I understand how all the negative news can get annoying. I know a good number of people in America, especially the older generation, who don’t even like watching the news anymore because they feel it is all based on negativity, even when dealing with America. There seems to be an idea that “good news is no news” (to reverse the popular adage), and to an extent that’s true: good news doesn’t usually get the viewers, the emotions, the debates – and in turn, that doesn’t get ratings. So, I am sympathetic to some of the Chinese complaints: there do need to be more stories highlighting the successes and optimism of ordinary Chinese people. I don’t think that the media’s sole job is to report bad news; without good news, how can we get a balanced view of any country? Just recognize that the Western media’s attitude in this respect is not China-specific. (A small example: When the war in Iraq was going terribly, and we were losing, it was front page news every day. Now that the surge has proven hugely successful and things are being accomplished, you hardly ever see a front-page story about Iraq – unless something bad happens.)

@Thomas: You said Um…. that is how the human mindset works, B. Smith, not just the Western mindset. People identify things they don’t understand by making shortcuts between a noticeable facet of that thing and the thing itself. It is called stereotyping. Chinese do it too.

How is distinguishing between a government and the people governed “stereotyping”? I think you may have misread me. I have heard angry responses from some Chinese who don’t like Westerners making such a distinction. These Chinese (very nationalistic?) feel that Chinese people and the Chinese government are very closely related and mutually supportive of one another. I know that many Chinese seem to be happy with the overall way the CCP is doing things right now; that doesn’t mean what the CCP is doing is always right, or that their support is guaranteed in the absence of economic progress. I may be mistaken, but I feel there is a big difference between the average Chinese and the ruling members of the Party. I would say this difference between governed and governor exists in most other countries as well.

August 20, 2008 @ 12:34 am | Comment

>>how do you account for the fact that a lot of overseas Chinese are in fact even more vociferous in their defence of China against “western media bias”?

There are plenty of reasons for that, but here’s one: Most Chinese students in the US spend their days watching CCTV on cable, read only Chinese web sites, very rarely have any social contact with anyone but other Chinese, and only speak Chinese 99% of the time. They leave China convinced that the rest of the world is keeping China down — and that is all they see when they go outside the country. It is hardly surprising that people who’ve been weaned on nationalism and victimhood still see everything through the lens of nationalism and victimhood when they go to another country. Americans weaned on FOX news and evangelicalism hardly turn into liberal internationalists when they go to other countries. They probably just come away even more convinced that the US is God’s country and that the rest of the world is “anti-American.” Same deal.

That is one explanation. There are plenty of others.

August 20, 2008 @ 1:05 am | Comment

Hongwang,

Who are we kidding here? Behind every “Starbucks” story, there is at least two more stories telling us the plight of someone who got his house bulldozed, someone who lost her job, someone who was thrown to jail because of blah blah blah. You know how “the routine” is when it comes to covering China.

Raj,

That is your observations and yours only. A lot of overseas Chinese I know frequently read the local papers and there have been an emerging group of so-called “Chinese expats” who are not only well versed in English and other local languages but also extremely informed. Those guys behind anti-CNN.com no doubt frequent western publications as well as TV news etc., otherwise they would have found what they found.

Raj, you don’t seem to get it. Nobody is asking foreign media to be nicer to China. Nobody is saying that they should stop reporting those negative stuff (as long as they are real) or they should start making up stuff to flatter China. That’s not what people are asking. What they are saying is, and I am trying very hard to summarize it here, that foreign media should not just focus on the negative stuff and try to be balanced and paint a more accurate picture of the ground reality in China. Like I said, the way that have been doing portraying China, anybody who doesn’t live here would come to only one impression/conclusion that (1) China is totally fucked up and (2) China is a big threat to the west, world peace, blah blah blah, you name it.

Here is an example: Say there have been a lot of crimes in XXX district within YYY city and all we hear is the crimes in XXX and nothing else. The one time you would hear about XXX is when something bad happens there. Those of us who don’t live there probably think XXX is a shitty place that you want to do anything to avoid going. I am saying the media, in addition to reporting the crimes, should give us more perspectives, background info as to what the root cause of the problem is etc., as well as providing us with other things that would help us get a full picture of XXX. I am sure there is more to XXX than just the crimes that we hate, right?

August 20, 2008 @ 1:23 am | Comment

Hongwang,

“Most Chinese students in the US spend their days watching CCTV on cable, read only Chinese web sites, very rarely have any social contact with anyone but other Chinese, and only speak Chinese 99% of the time. They leave China convinced that the rest of the world is keeping China down — and that is all they see when they go outside the country.”

Just how do you know that? How are you in any position to speak on “Most Chinese students in the US”?

One of the most fierce “Chinese nationalists” (if you will) that I know is someone borned in Shanghai and went to the States when he was 8. He went to elementary, high school and college in the US. He has no problem speaking Mandarin and Shanghainese but he has trouble reading Chinese. Yet he is no doubt very patriotic and nationalistic (depending on how you see it) toward China.

August 20, 2008 @ 1:30 am | Comment

B.Smith,

Bravo. I completely agree with you here. Thanks!

August 20, 2008 @ 1:32 am | Comment

Those guys behind anti-CNN.com no doubt frequent western publications as well as TV news etc., otherwise they would have found what they found.

They trawl for “errors” – they don’t just happen to come across disputed material in the course of enjoying a daily read of particular websites.

What they are saying is, and I am trying very hard to summarize it here, that foreign media should not just focus on the negative stuff and try to be balanced and paint a more accurate picture of the ground reality in China.

Perhaps they should practice what they preach. The people who run and contribute to anti-cnn are extremely biased and one-sided themselves. They demonise the foreign media and accuse publications, unfairly, of having an “anti-China agenda”.

Chinese people need to accept that the non-Chinese media does not conform to what they think is right. UK newspapers frequently drone on about how bad things are in this country, despite the fact that things are better than in China in every respect. You talked about reporting on crime, well in the UK the big stories are not that crime is falling on average but that violent crime is rising in certain areas, that public perception is that crime is out-of-control, etc. No good news on that front at all, even though things aren’t nearly as bad in reality for most people. So why should they go out of their way to say more good things about China?

As for balance, reports on the Chinese economy are often full of praise. What I think these people complain about is the political coverage. Well, sorry, but just because a lot of Chinese people have it good and aren’t troubled doesn’t mean that other people aren’t suffering. The UK and other media doesn’t see the point in constantly slapping countries on the back – drawing attention to problems that need fixing is more important in their eyes.

August 20, 2008 @ 3:34 am | Comment

Raj,

You are not making any sense. Who do you think found the stuff that they “caught”? Some nice foreign Sinophile found those and alerted these guys? And do tell me Raj, how do you “trawl for errors” if you don’t read or browse foreign language newspapers, publications and websites?

On the second point, you misunderstood me, by “they” I was not talking about the anti-CNN guys, I was referring to the Chinese in general.

I felt like I just wasted my time talking to a cow, Raj. Perspectives, perspectives, perspectives!!! Once again, the Brits know from their first-hand experience how things really are, despite what the press says. But they have no clue what the ground reality is in a country on the other side of the world. And just because this is how you do it in the UK, it doesn’t mean it is right. You people love “criticizing” the Chinese media, among other things, what, the Chinese can’t have a problem with your media? Can’t take what you shell out?

Who the hell asked you to “go out of their way to say more good things about China”? Sprechen Sie Englisch, Raj? I have said times after times that I am not saying you should make up something to flatter China, I am saying you should do your best to present a balanced, a full and more accurate picture of what is going on in China or anywhere, as a journalist. What’s so hard to understand? Isn’t this what “integrity” means to journalists?

“reports on the Chinese economy are often full of praise”? Like what? They usually turned it around go for the second approach, painting China as a growing threat who is taking away your British jobs etc. Who are you trying to fool here, Raj?

And what the hell is this supposed to mean? “UK newspapers frequently drone on about how bad things are in this country, despite the fact that things are better than in China in every respect.”?? In every aspect? Let me tell you something, Raj, there is no chance whatsoever for Beijing to take this one from London, not in million years: The knifing capital of the world.

You know what, Raj? I take back everything I said. If you think you are being honest to yourself in doing what you are doing, good for you, don’t change anything. If you think you are absolutely right, go ahead and keep doing what you are doing. Just don’t 2345in’ complain when the Chinese give you the middle finger. I am all for each individual/country determining its own way of doing things and destiny. Don’t force your scheiße on us and we won’t force our scheiße on you.

August 20, 2008 @ 7:18 am | Comment

Pffefer@臭狗屁

Much of what you would be valid if countries existed in a vacuum. They don’t. China is a member of the global neighborhood and is thus being examined under rules of that neighborhood. The West has done everything it can to enable the CCP by allowing the exploitation of Chinese workers at the expense of safety, air and water quality, and the lack of free and open discourse. By turning a blind eye in corporate board rooms and shareholder meetings, the West has allowed the virtually slavery of Chinese labor for the past 20 years. Criticism of the Chinese government and Chinese populace stems from the view of some of us that those policies are not in the best interest of the Chinese people since every other nation that has had this done to them has also suffered. Wouldn’t it be in the best interest of the Chinese people to not repeat the mistakes of the West in uncontrolled capitalism and consumerism? By the way, my Chinese friends are not very knowledgeable about the world outside of China. Their lack of access coupled with three generations of self-serving CCP propaganda masquerading as education has left them woefully ill equipped to realistically with complex national (as opposed to dealing with them as xenophobes).

August 20, 2008 @ 11:00 am | Comment

“Who are we kidding here? Behind every “Starbucks” story, there is at least two more stories telling us the plight of someone who got his house bulldozed”

On balance I’d say that was proportionally more than fair to China.

August 20, 2008 @ 11:19 am | Comment

Here’s a question: where are all the stories in the European press about how great, rich, and wonderful the US is? I only see stories about out-of-control obesity, crime, and warmongering. I also read about how the US is on the verge of collapsing into fascism and is raping the planet and is generally full of fat, ignorant, hillbilly bastards.

You see, Pffefer, at least China gets the “Starbuck’s story” one third of the time. The US doesn’t even get that. Maybe you should realize by now that China is not the victim of a worldwide media conspiracy: this is just how the press works. I wouldn’t say it is out of malice. You, and plenty of other people, are just overly sensitive to the fact that foreigners are writing anything critical of your country. I don’t think there is anything wrong with you pointing out the biases or the idiocies of the media. It is a good thing, in fact. Just try not to be so thin-skinned about it.

August 20, 2008 @ 1:06 pm | Comment

“I also read about how the US is on the verge of collapsing into fascism and is raping the planet and is generally full of fat, ignorant, hillbilly bastards.”

that was reasonably accurate though you forgot bible bashing, cousin marrying, inbred, gun obsessed lunatics. reminds of the poor yank who came to our school in England. he had a thick southern accent and everywhere he went we all used to shout “squeal like a piggy, boy! squeal like a piggy!”. i bet he is now a real anglophile.

“Don’t force your scheiße on us and we won’t force our scheiße on you.”

the problem, pfeffer, is no-one is forcing their shit on you. you have come here out of your own choice. you don’t have to read the foreign press or websites. you can live in a chinese bubble if you want. you have chosen not to, and don’t like what you see. well, boo fucking hoo. grow up, stinky dog fart boy.

August 20, 2008 @ 3:44 pm | Comment

America is just jealous because they did not win the silver medal.

I mean, the sour grape does taste bad, but do you have to go through such means to secure a gold medal?

Shame on America

August 20, 2008 @ 6:51 pm | Comment

Pffefer

I’m making plenty of sense. The point about “trawling” is that they’re not interested in reading the opinion of the publication such that it might change their view – they have a look for China-related topics and see if they can undermine any criticisms. It is possible to “read” something without having an open mind.

Once again, the Brits know from their first-hand experience how things really are, despite what the press says.

They know how things are for themselves – they may not know for people living in other parts of town, let alone other cities or regions. And even then they may exaggerate in their own minds what life is really like.

You people love “criticizing” the Chinese media, among other things, what, the Chinese can’t have a problem with your media? Can’t take what you shell out?

They can have a problem with the media if they want, but no one’s going to change their ways just because of that. If you want the British media et al and change how it reports on China, get the Chinese media to change first.

I have said times after times that I am not saying you should make up something to flatter China, I am saying you should do your best to present a balanced, a full and more accurate picture of what is going on in China or anywhere, as a journalist. What’s so hard to understand?

Nothing is hard for me to understand – it’s you that doesn’t get it. Saying MORE good things about China does not mean MAKING UP good things about China. Is that so difficult for you to grasp?

They usually turned it around go for the second approach, painting China as a growing threat who is taking away your British jobs etc.

Bullshit. List all the articles from the UK broadsheets from the last year saying that. Go on, let’s see how often the Times, Telegraph, Independent or Guardian complain about UK jobs going to China without saying anything positive about the Chinese economy.

Who are you trying to fool here, Raj?

I think you’ve been fooling yourself. Have you tried turning off your auto-pilot so you think rather than react?

Let me tell you something, Raj, there is no chance whatsoever for Beijing to take this one from London, not in million years: The knifing capital of the world.

Given neither of us is going to live for 1 million years, that’s a rather childish comment to make. As for the comparison, I was talking about the countries as a whole. Anyone can cherry-pick regions, cities, certain crimes, etc. But of course because you yourself are guilty of the very crime you accuse others of, forming opinions of countries based on a few headlines, it’s not surprising you might bring up London to describe the whole of the UK.

Don’t force your scheiße on us and we won’t force our scheiße on you.

As Si says, no one is forcing anything on you – it is you who are demanding our media changes the way it reports. If you don’t like it, don’t read it (and don’t come here).

August 20, 2008 @ 9:00 pm | Comment

Hacker finds cache spreadsheet revealing Chinese gymnasts’ ages:

http://strydehax.blogspot.com/2008/08/hack-olympics.html

14.

Check it out! (While you still can)

August 20, 2008 @ 10:18 pm | Comment

Not_a_Sinophile,

“The West has done everything it can to enable the CCP by allowing the exploitation of Chinese workers at the expense of safety, air and water quality, and the lack of free and open discourse. By turning a blind eye in corporate board rooms and shareholder meetings, the West has allowed the virtually slavery of Chinese labor for the past 20 years. Criticism of the Chinese government and Chinese populace stems from the view of some of us that those policies are not in the best interest of the Chinese people since every other nation that has had this done to them has also suffered. Wouldn’t it be in the best interest of the Chinese people to not repeat the mistakes of the West in uncontrolled capitalism and consumerism?”

Don’t you think the choice should be left to the Chinese whether it is in their best interest to work “at the expense of safety, air and water quality, and the lack of free and open discourse” etc.? I am not saying that they are not entitled to have all of the above, but consider where a lot of people were 20 to 30 years ago, what they have today, despite being nowhere perfect, is leaps and bounds ahead of what they had then. If the Chinese themselves are not complaining, why should you? Are you saying the Chinese don’t know better or they are not capable of making their choice?

“By the way, my Chinese friends are not very knowledgeable about the world outside of China. Their lack of access coupled with three generations of self-serving CCP propaganda masquerading as education has left them woefully ill equipped to realistically with complex national (as opposed to dealing with them as xenophobes).”

The same can be said of people in many other countries, including many in the west. What struck me was at least the Chinese are very eager to learn about the world outside of China because they know they have a long way to go while many complacent people in the developed west don’t give a damn about learning anything about the world outside their small country because they think “we are da best!”

August 21, 2008 @ 1:15 am | Comment

Hongwang,

“Here’s a question: where are all the stories in the European press about how great, rich, and wonderful the US is? I only see stories about out-of-control obesity, crime, and warmongering. I also read about how the US is on the verge of collapsing into fascism and is raping the planet and is generally full of fat, ignorant, hillbilly bastards. ”

And you think there is nothing wrong with this?? I don’t get it, why am I wrong to think the above depiction is preposterous?

Ok, European press = scheiße. I wonder how they describe their own continent.

August 21, 2008 @ 1:19 am | Comment

Just wondering, does this change anyone’s mind on the age controversy:

“A new chapter in the ongoing controversy surrounding China’s women’s gymnastics team opened today, as search engine hacker stryde.hax found surviving copies of official registration documents issued by China’s General Administration of Sport of China….showing the age of one of China’s gold medal winning gymnasts to be 14 instead of 16.”

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/08/20/1259253&from=rss

Or is this all still just a case of sour grapes?

August 21, 2008 @ 1:21 am | Comment

Si,

“the problem, pfeffer, is no-one is forcing their shit on you. you have come here out of your own choice. you don’t have to read the foreign press or websites. you can live in a chinese bubble if you want. you have chosen not to, and don’t like what you see. well, boo fucking hoo. grow up, stinky dog fart boy.”

Nah, I don’t think I live in a bubble, I am actually trying to pop the bubble you people created. You might be living in a bubble if you buy everything they tell you, no matter what the subject is, China or America. Check your IQ, xiao ya ting de shabi!

August 21, 2008 @ 1:46 am | Comment

I enjoyed watching the performance of the chinese gymnasts. It is regretable the government felt the need to falsify their ages to ensure a high medal count for the mother land. I hold no ill will towards the girls themselves, they are at the mercy of their government sponsors, much like the cute girl with the crooked teeth. China has a world class gymnast team so it was unnecessary to stoop to these kind of tricks, they would have performed well and honorably with the girls who really are 16, and most likely have achieved the same number of medals.

It was not necessary and this heavy handed meddling of CCP party officials in selecting cute girls to sing and pressuring olympic teams to use underage athletes taints what has been overall a great success.

The CCP officials responsible should appologize to the girl with crooked teeth and the underage girls on the gymnastics team for the shame brought to them by the dishonorable actions of beaurecrats.

August 21, 2008 @ 2:08 am | Comment

Raj,

“I’m making plenty of sense. The point about “trawling” is that they’re not interested in reading the opinion of the publication such that it might change their view – they have a look for China-related topics and see if they can undermine any criticisms. It is possible to “read” something without having an open mind.”

That’s your suspicion, not proven fact. I doubt there are many overseas Chinese out there who spend most of their time browsing newspapers, publications and websites just to find criticism of China that they can undermine. The Chinese Propaganda Deaprtment and the Global Times maybe, but overseas Chinese? I’d think they’d be too busy to have time to do this.

Anyway, your claim that overseas Chinese are not informed and not influenced by respective local and national media has yet to be proved.

“They know how things are for themselves – they may not know for people living in other parts of town, let alone other cities or regions. And even then they may exaggerate in their own minds what life is really like.”

That’s EXACTLY what I have been saying all along!! So I guess you are saying, it is OK for them to not get the full picture, it is OK for them to use their imagination to exaggerate?

“Saying MORE good things about China does not mean MAKING UP good things about China. Is that so difficult for you to grasp?”

What the hell? If there are actually good things to report, why not? Report only bad things but not good things? If I understood you correctly, reporting what is actually happening, except for good things is the fundamental principle of British journalism, correct? As long as you say yes, it is fine. Again I no longer ask you to change anything.

“Bullshit. List all the articles from the UK broadsheets from the last year saying that. Go on, let’s see how often the Times, Telegraph, Independent or Guardian complain about UK jobs going to China without saying anything positive about the Chinese economy.”

Alright Raj, could you kindly show me some of the articles talking about the Chinese economy from the British media?

“Given neither of us is going to live for 1 million years, that’s a rather childish comment to make. As for the comparison, I was talking about the countries as a whole. Anyone can cherry-pick regions, cities, certain crimes, etc. But of course because you yourself are guilty of the very crime you accuse others of, forming opinions of countries based on a few headlines, it’s not surprising you might bring up London to describe the whole of the UK.”

It’s called “Figure of speech”, Raj, just in case they don’t teach you that in Britain. You were talking about the countries as a whole? Then what the heck does “in every respect” mean? Sure, I agree overall, as whole, Britain is far better than China because the former is a highly developed country, the forefather of the industrial revulotion, a former colonial empire that amassed so much wealth in the last several centuries while the latter is a poor third-world developing country. There is no comparison. But to say Britain is better “in every respect” is ludicrous, unless you want to play the ostrich.

Exactly, I was quilty of the crime that I accused western media of, I did that partly to show you how ridiculous it is: Knifing capital, London? And what do I know about London??

Whether or not I am going to come here it is my business, you don’t run this blog (as far I know, it is Richard’s blog. Who the heck is Raj anyway?). But I hear you and Si, I will shove it up my ass as I believe in “Don’t force your scheiße on us and we won’t force our scheiße on you”. But at the same time, you’ve got to remember that too, about “force your scheiße on us”, you know?

By the way, I’d thought you might want to read this:

http://forum.atimes.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=13485

August 21, 2008 @ 2:16 am | Comment

Wow, this Pepper guy even knows how to insult people in Chinese and German. I’m really impressed. And I bet he’s not living in the worker’s paradise PRC, but rather in the evil US of A. Or maybe he is from Germany? That would explain his arrogant attitude and his permanent nitpicking.

August 21, 2008 @ 2:36 am | Comment

>>And you think there is nothing wrong with this?? I don’t get it, why am I wrong to think the above depiction is preposterous?

The point is that China is not being singled out by some “anti-Chinese” conspiracy. People in other countries just have different points of view and emphasize different things according to their own interests and values. You seem to want the Western press to emulate CCTV.

As I already said, the whole point of the press is to report “negative” stories that people in power don’t want reported. I don’t even think you really disagree with that — you just don’t like the fact that foreigners are doing it. If some Chinese guy on a Chinese blog reported on injustices in China, you probably wouldn’t give a rat’s ass. But if a foreigner reports on the same exact thing, you take it as evidence of “anti-Chinese bias.”

August 21, 2008 @ 3:21 am | Comment

I doubt there are many overseas Chinese out there who spend most of their time browsing newspapers, publications and websites just to find criticism of China that they can undermine.

Who says they have to spend most of their time doing it? The most nationalistic/pro-China would see it as their “patriotic duty”.

Anyway, your claim that overseas Chinese are not informed and not influenced by respective local and national media has yet to be proved.

Your claim that they are informed hasn’t been proved either.

So I guess you are saying, it is OK for them to not get the full picture, it is OK for them to use their imagination to exaggerate?

It’s not up to anyone to baby-sit less informed members of the public – it’s up to them to police their own perceptions.

If I understood you correctly, reporting what is actually happening, except for good things is the fundamental principle of British journalism, correct?

No, you don’t understand at all. They report “good things”, but the general opinion is that problems/crisis situations/etc are the most newsworthy things out there.

Alright Raj, could you kindly show me some of the articles talking about the Chinese economy from the British media?

No chance. You made the wild assertion about what the UK media writes, so there should be lots of examples for you to provide.

Whether or not I am going to come here it is my business, you don’t run this blog

Duh, did I ever say I did? The entire POINT was that you have the choice.

August 21, 2008 @ 3:58 am | Comment

Mor,

If Si could get away with insults in English, why can’t I do the same in Chinese or German? We are all equal opportunity insulters here.

Hongwang,

You honestly don’t see anything wrong with the above depiction of the US? If your answer is no then I have nothing more to say.

No, I am not asking the western media to emulate CCTV, in my opinion both western media and CCTV are pretty crappy in that the western press focuses only on “negative stuff” and CCTV only reports “good stuff”. The thing is everyone easily dismisses CCTV because we know it is the mouthpiece of the Chinese government and everyone takes what CCTV says with tons of salt, if not outright rejection. Western press on the other hand is somehow considered way more trustworthy because of the “free” label. I am saying the western press could and should have done a better job presenting a fuller and more accurate picture. What’s wrong with that?

August 21, 2008 @ 5:48 am | Comment

“Who says they have to spend most of their time doing it? The most nationalistic/pro-China would see it as their “patriotic duty”.”

Patriotic duty or not, one does have to spend a lot of time doing that, right? Considering it “patriotic duty” does not make someone a superman who can browse through tons of stuff and find what he wants in a couple of seconds.

“Your claim that they are informed hasn’t been proved either.”

This sounds silly and childish, but it wasn’t me who brought this up first. You claim it, you prove it.

“No, you don’t understand at all. They report “good things”, but the general opinion is that problems/crisis situations/etc are the most newsworthy things out there.”

OK, enlighten me then, what are the “good things” they usually report?

August 21, 2008 @ 5:57 am | Comment

I am not one who will provide quotes, websites or statistics. I am not a debater nor do I make quick assumptions or stereotypes. I have been entertained reading blog after blog of harsh words thrown from one countryman to the next. American, born and raised; I admittChina does seem like a scarry place at times (partly because of the pictures painted by the media). But all in all, our media in the US tries (too hard at times) to paint a “pretty picture”. Not to say they would not follow a story that leads to some conspiracy in ANY land. Most of your sites mentioned link to a UK/European site and I believe I noticed one from Yahoo!(NOT a credible news source, I NEVER read articles from there that I would call “news” or “fact”). I admitt, I do not follow many stories from other sources but if you follow msnbc.com (that is where most of my Olympic coverage has come from) they could not speak more highly of Beijing and MANY other places in China. They have done story after story about various groups of people, the booming economy and grande architecture. The accomplishments China has are GREAT and there are too many to list. If anything, after watching these Olympic games I’d be more likely to travel to the area!

We may be looked at as negative, warmongers who hate Mother Nature and cling to our “super-sized value meals”. But the things I DO know about our country is we cry when others are hurting, we have a desire to help a neighboring country out and we FIGHT for what is right. If a country was attacking China, America would be the first to rush to it’s aid and help protect any helpless or innocent person who needed aid. Our heads (or brains) may not be the biggest in the world, but our hearts are! Big hearts fight hard, stay united and love large. I love being in America just as much as the Chinese love living in China (that’s the way it should be).

August 21, 2008 @ 6:12 am | Comment

@Sunshine

Chinese people are exactly the way you describe Americans.

They “cry when others are hurting”, like in the case of Hu Jia and his family.

They “have a desire to help a neighboring country out”, like in the case of Tibet.

And they “FIGHT for what is right”, like when they point missiles at Taiwan or rough up foreign devils who dare to buy at Carrefour.

August 21, 2008 @ 12:27 pm | Comment

Patriotic duty or not, one does have to spend a lot of time doing that, right?

How many people do you think contribute to anti-cnn? If it’s a lot, you don’t need to spend that much time each day to bring up material. Besides most attention was raised during the Tibet crisis, when articles were easily accessible and visible on agencies’ websites.

You claim it, you prove it.

That’s the pot calling the kettle black – I haven’t seen you come up with those examples of the UK media going on about the Chinese economic rise taking away British jobs.

OK, enlighten me then, what are the “good things” they usually report?

This was a leading article in the Times today:

http://tinyurl.com/5bg8we

August 21, 2008 @ 10:50 pm | Comment

Sunshine,

In general I agree that there is something intrinsic about the Americans (unlike some of the Europeans who carry a lot of colonial baggage): Their big-heartedness and their sense of doing the right thing. America helped defeat the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese. The tsunami relief effort. But at the same time it is often misplaced, for example, Vietnam and those stunts the US pulled in central and South America in the name of “democracy”. There was no shortage of dictators that the US had supported, they just conveniently threw “freedom” “democracy” out the window.

I think we should all come to realize that at the end of the day, we are not that different after all, we are all pretty selfish and we all driven by our own interest, first and foremost. Nobody is that much better than the rest of the group.

August 22, 2008 @ 2:29 am | Comment

Robert Duvall’s character in the movie Apocalypse Now (1979) in my mind is an effective parody of the big-hearted american out of place in another place, culture, country, etc. that you describe.

The Knight saving the damsel in distress. The warrior liberating the village from a tyrant. The John Wayne cowboy rescuing the settlers or a wagon train from the indians. There are many variations of the big-hearted american Hero saving someone theme. Most of our movies and literature are variations of this theme.

Having been stuck working with several vietnam vets in life I think were many that suffered from this John Wayne syndrome. Some believed they were going to Vietnam to liberate the Vietnamese from the Communist Scourge, but it turned out the vietnamese were liberating themselves from the French and it became FUBAR because the big-hearted American Hero was in the wrong movie or at least on the wrong side.

The theme of the big-hearted american rescuing the villagers from the tryant is one that appears frequently in our movies and literature. We often try to apply this model to our foreign policy. When it is true it works well, such as liberating many countries from Nazis, Japanese, Soviet Communists, etc. But when we try to liberate Vietnamese from themselves or try to liberate Iraqis from themselves or try to get in the middle of an ancient Georgian territorial dispute then it quickly becomes FUBAR.

It’s a great thing when it’s true then we have our greatest successes, but when it’s not true then we have our greatest failures.

August 22, 2008 @ 4:05 am | Comment

Hey He Kexin! It won’t be long
your name will be like Zhao Ziyang
censored from the Internet
as China trys hard to forget

Now Spelunker’s here
to provide cheer
and sing a sweet song
for your ear

I’ll post it first on Peking Duck
and maybe it will change your luck
So here it is, sung from afar
with apologies to Ringo Starr:

“You’re Sixteen?”

You do flips and you twirl, ooh, what a girl!
Eyes that sparkle and shine.
You’re fourteen, you’re beautiful and you’re mine.
(mine, all mine, mine, mine!)

You’re my baby, my Chinese doll,
You beat USA without a single fall
You won the gold, my heart went cold,
Ooh, when we lost, I gave Jacques Rogge a call.

Your Olympic dreams, are now on hold
Soon the IOC will divine…
You’re fourteen, you’re beautiful, pay the fine.
(fine, big fine, fine fine!)

You’re my baby, my Chinese doll
your paper trail’s as long as China’s Great Wall
For goodness sake, your passport’s fake,
Ooh, what a mess you’re about to make!

The truth has come clean… Miss He Kexin;
Your name can no longer be used online.
You’re fourteen, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine!

August 22, 2008 @ 12:53 pm | Comment

The whole games has been a joke, proof that this government is almost nazi like in their control and manipulation. The fake fire works, child singing controversy, pathetic judging, and obvious tampering or coverup of the underage issue is sheer proof of this. These atheletes are obviously not 16, and if you think so you are an idiot and possible pedophile. The olympics use to be about honor and spirit of competition, not about countries trying to prove there dominance. Congratulations China on proving that you are not capable of hosting another olympic games.

August 23, 2008 @ 5:51 am | Comment

I don’t get why people have issues with the fire works. They are actually real and people did see them, it is just that what you saw on TV was CGIed because it is tough to shoot all the consecutive “footprints” from the chopper.

Pathetic judging? You can’t possibly blame China for that, can you?

Sour grapes. http://www.sltrib.com/monson/ci_10273430

Good luck with 2016, you will need it.

August 23, 2008 @ 10:26 am | Comment

Beijing Joke – you’re actually wrong. We can fault China for lots of things, but it turned out to be a pretty good host of the Games. In terms of venues and attention to details and service it may be the best ever. Suggest you read this post for other examples. The age of the gymnast and the arrest of the old women and the deleting of journalists’ photos, etc., are another conversation. For most visitors to the Games, China turned out to be an excellent host, to my own surprise.

August 23, 2008 @ 12:37 pm | Comment

Cheating! Many of this blog’s responders support the age cheating. You are real crooks. Fortunately, China is not powerful yet; otherwise, our children need to learn how to cheat, instead of learning proper knowledge and morality.

August 24, 2008 @ 12:25 am | Comment

To Pffefer
Your choosen Chinese nickname seems to fit you very well. Cheating is obviously your goal of life. China has done a good job in hosting the event. But, the cheating parts (e.g. singing, firework, age) can not be ignored. I know cheating is prevalent in China. But to join international community, you need to shape up your morality. Otherwise you can always choose to shut yourself up, and live in stone age and eat dust, like when you were in cultural revolution. China’s success is because we, who live and value freedom, in the past 10 years stupidly accommodate it, hoping China will eventually change its “character.” Obviously we are wrong, and time for us to wake up. Don’t want to live the second Nazi era.

August 24, 2008 @ 12:49 am | Comment

Wake up and smell the coffee old geezer. Tell me which country is wrecking havoc, creating all sorts of problems around the world. Not China. Accomodating China’s success? Like what? Don’t tell me that you enabled China’s success. You gained as much as the Chinese did by integrating China, if not more. And what CAN you do to not “accommodate it”? Go ahead and “wake up”. Cutting off diplomatic relations with China? Kicking China out of the UN and the WTO? Be my guest.

Cheating, of course is bad. So far the only thing that aroused my disgust is the lip-synching fiasco. If those Chinese gymnasts were proven underaged, they should be penalized and banned from future comeptitions.

August 24, 2008 @ 2:54 am | Comment

“Chinese gymnasts were proven underaged, they should be penalized and banned from future comeptitions [sic].”

That’s where we go off the rails. If true, I doubt He Kexin was the mastermind here. When US dopers get caught and banned, they usually have nobody to blame but themselves. If the allegations prove valid, can we say the same of He? I doubt it. Rather, should punishment need to be administered, I think that sanctions against the Chinese gymnastics federation, including large fines and/or possible bans from a set number of future competitions, would be more appropriate than taking something away from this poor girl.

August 24, 2008 @ 1:59 pm | Comment

I think that it is wrong if China has indeed put forward a girl younger than required by the rule. It is against the spirit of fair play. The world is not picking on those girls because they are from China – past gold medallists from gold countries have had they medals revoked, and outstanding athletes will understandably be under the scrutiny of many – after all, it would be unfair to the athletes if the person who won gold won it by breaking the rules. It’s really quite sad that there are countries/coaches who would approve of such breach of rules, and if the story is true, going as far as to falsify the girls official papers. But given that it is very difficult to verify an athlete’s age when the government is willing to falsify their official documents I think sporting groups will have to make a decision about age restrictions in competitive gymnastics.

Raj mentioned that the priority should be the ‘long-term health and physical development’ of the girls. The problem is that many athletes, in doing what they do, suffer from their sports because of the very nature of the sports. Weight lifting, boxing and many sports have a higher probability of causing health issues later in the athletes life. As an athlete though, consider it a decision they must make, and I am sure some at least would not have it any other way. Now one might say that those athletes are legally adults (though who knows when they started their training – it doesn’t take much Googling to see some pre-teen showing some superhuman feats). Well, 16 years old are classified as minors in most countries, still have quite a bit of developing to do. What I am getting at is that a decision needs to be made: in the interest of long term health and physical development, all athletes should at least be legally adult before they can participate in those competitions. But in the interest of the sport, then it does make sense to waive all age restrictions so that those participating can showcase as close to the performance of a lifetime as they can (and for all we know, some of those minor may genuinely want to give the best performance of a lifetime in light of the hard training they’ve had to go through).

I’ve not really taken a definite side on this. I have to admit though, that while the second option sounds might appear morally ‘wrong’, it may well be more practical if we consider that some countries may choose to cheat anyway, and individual countries may choose to impose their own restrictions. Selected gymnasts will always be at the mercy of the training regime and philosophy of the country they represent. I suspect that the starting training age and intensity of a Chinese gymnast will be the same even if it is possible to ensure that those who compete are over 16. Lastly, it does allow a little more flexibility: Mao Asada missed the 2006 Winter Olympic because is was too young by 3 months. I question whether it makes sense to keep obvious talent out of the competition in an event that occurs only once every 4 years for 3 months.

August 25, 2008 @ 12:08 am | Comment

The US and the rest of the world are just jealous of China as a rising power and will do anything to stop it. China should not worry about the western bias, when you are strong, people gets jealous. Each country has its own problems, mind your own business first, before you act like you are some kind of god or police and can judge China. The west has always been aggressive towards China, and now it is time for the west to taste their bitter pill, and the new China will no longer take these insults. Accusing someone faking their age needs some serious proof, I just think most of the fuzz is based on jealousy, rather than facts. I have not seen the Chinese accused of Phelps doing just because he looks “muscular”. Get use to it, China’s age has come and there is no stopping it. Even if some Chinese athletes cheats, so what? No body is perfect, to put down a country with 1.3 billion people by nitpicking negative things is ungraceful and mean.

August 25, 2008 @ 5:32 am | Comment

Jeremiah,

I agree, I meant the Chinese Gymnastics Federation should be penalized and perhaps the Chinese women’s gymastic team will be barred from say competing in the next tournament and the London Olympics, IF THE ALLEGATION IS PROVEN TRUE.

August 25, 2008 @ 6:27 am | Comment

The bottom line is that many people don’t trust the Central People’s Government. If this happened in most other places, a glance at the passport would have settled it in a moment.

Trust is very hard to establish, and easy to lose.

August 25, 2008 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

Olympic Bodybuilders aren’t known for their scientific genius — they specialize themselves so that they can be, you know, olympic quality athletes. Being an olympian athlete requires such dedication and you are changed because of it forever. Telling talented young girls that they can’t be olympians because they are too young seems to me just as ageist as telling someone he cannot work anymore because he is too old, even if he can do the work of two youngins. Even if it is detrimental to their long term health they can do something with their lives that most people never even have a chance to — prove themselves better than everyone else in the world at something beyond a shadow of a doubt, by winning a gold medal at the olympics.

If the girls want to choose fame and success, why not let them? I’m pretty a country as populous as china can find at least one girl who’s willing and capable of doing this, without forcing her to do anything.

August 26, 2008 @ 12:59 am | Comment

To Dor

Looking at the passports and trusting the Chinese governments is a ludicrous proposition. Don’t pretend to be neutral while you are an agent working for the Chinese government.

To Pffefer@臭狗屁

Don’t talk nut and nationalistically supporting the Chinese government before giving up your foreign passport, or WESTERN PASSPORTS that is. You would still be eating vegetable at max if not because of foreign scholarship and the help of WTO. Look at Beijing during Christmas when expats go back for holidays; it is a dead town with the foot massage girls crying for business.
Tell me that the Chinese Gymnasts are at or above 16. You must be blind.

August 30, 2008 @ 8:22 am | Comment

To Snowman121

When the people of a country are not liked in so many countries from Singapore, Australia, Japan, Korea, Canada, France, Germany, Brazil, to Russia, somethings must seriously be wrong, and not a raw deal. Ponder on morality and honesty, then you will understand why they are not liked. Chinese businessmen prefer to export because they claim it is hard to collect payments from local chinese merchants. Can you deny this reality? Perhaps, this similar disease is already part of your psychic that you are already immune.
We in the free world don’t appreciate scumbags unlike you do.

August 30, 2008 @ 8:36 am | Comment

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