The post voice of the Opening Ceremony in Beijing was spectacular and majestic which was the unified stance of most dailies and people around the world. But the British media, particularly BBC, The Times, The Guardian, International Herald Tribune and the Independent were not too happy about it and started to “snoop” around to try to uncover any negative inclinations or connotations associated with the most watched 8 August 2008 event.
Most of the Western media especially the British were unable to accept the fact that the Chinese authorities, a dictatorship, can pull off an impressive showcase which had everyone talking the very next day. In their very narrow colonial mentality, only the advanced civilizations and cultures of the West can stage an event of such colossal magnitude.
The Times of London was very unforgiving and unapologetic to the Chinese government and bluntly said that the Olympics was an event to legitimize its rule on the Chinese people and to the world. It went further to insinuate that the US$40 billion spent on the infrastructure and facilities for the “greatest show on earth” were the money of the people who have no choice but to abide by the government decision. The estimated US$100 million spent alone on the Opening Ceremony was extravagant and that there are other more important priorities. The London Games in 2012 will not be involved in this kind of unproductive spending but the show will achieve a lasting impact on the viewers.
If this is not a case of sheer jealously, I would not know how to put it differently!
Then, there was this news about the “fake” fireworks display in which there were 29 “footprints” that traveled across Beijing from south to north. The Beijing organizers have told the media that some previously recorded footage may have been used to mitigate the poor visibility of the haze. According to them, the footage was voluntarily provided to the broadcasters earlier for “convenience and theatrical effects” and there were no secrets. What is the fuss?
A Chinese sports fan who was at the “Bird Nest” said that he was taken by surprise of the magnificent display of fireworks and he could not care if some of these were simulated. Everyone was happy and he could not imagine an occasion where the Chinese were so joyous and proud of the event. He retorted “Why must the West be so negative of the usage of fireworks footage…perhaps, they are unable to do it themselves? Call it nationalistic or whatever but this is the general feeling of all Chinese people inclusive of those who lived overseas. Most of the Chinese were proud of the Olympics and I am sure that they would support the Chinese government in staging the Games as against what was implied by the British media.
Two days ago, those media from US, Britain and Europe (the West again) continued to “provoke” the Beijing organizers by announcing that the pretty nine year old girl who sang at the Opening Ceremony was only miming. Little Lin Miaoke who charmed the worldwide audience with a rendition of “Ode to the Motherland” was not the singer. The singer was Yang Peiyi who was not allowed onstage as she is not cute enough. The musical director of the show said that the most important aspect is to put the country’s interest first and hence, the use of a beautiful voice and a good image were given to two different girls. Even the voice girl, Yang told the Chinese media that she did not regret the decision, saying she was satisfied to have had her voice featured in the opening ceremony. What is so “fake” about the story?
If I remember correctly in the 90s, there was this artist called “Milli Vanilli” who was involved in lipsyn and his songs were not played anymore. That was a commercial act earning dollars and cents but the Beijing presentation was a show within a sporting gala and I believe the performers were either volunteers or paid a small allowance. So there was no big money involved. Again, what is the big fuss?
In Chinese traditions, it is important that the guest must be treated with the best hospitality possible and if there is a show, then it must be presented in the best possible manner which is what is being done to provide the best image. Having another person to sing in place of the person appearing in it is a sign that the host respects the guest and it is not regarded as “distasteful” as what is being reported. The Chinese believe in collective rights and it takes precedence over individual rights. Until and unless the West could accept and understand certain Chinese traditions, it would be very difficult to promote a genuine healthy relationship. Overseas Chinese who lived in foreign lands have learned to adapt to the local customary and traditional rites. Are the Western people willing to understand and respect Chinese practices and also adapt appropriately in its dealing with the Chinese people, given the continued rise of China in the future?
A racist and bias Caucasian woman from Europe commented that she is not surprise by the “fake” presentation since most products from China are fake anywhere. It is sad, once again, to know that the people in the West had very little knowledge of China and it is made worse by the lack of fair and balanced view of China in the media. In a very connected world of ours in which we interact actively with one another, do we really need to say such hurtful and prejudicial statements? If the attitudes and perceived opinions do not change for the better, I do not think there will be any hope of reconciliations between the East and West.
Another article from the US daily commented that the Chinese authorities must respect the individual rights of one of its most famous sports personality from China, Yao Ming, and to readily accept a no for “national service” otherwise the pressure of playing for China continuously will only shorten the career of this talented basketball player. I could not help but once again felt that the article is criticizing the regimental and strict code of obedience of the Chinese sports authorities. The devious intention of the article is to try to tell the world that the Chinese authorities do not respect individual right and it is not possible to say NO when it comes to playing for the country. I clearly do not disagree with the notion. I think Yao Ming has every right to say so but he is doing it out of loyalty for his country. After all, he was the Chinese flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony. Why don’t we ask Yao Ming instead?
Some Chinese athletes told the media, “When we entered the huge, ultra-modern Olympic stadium, the sense of change was just overwhelming. We would be competing in the Olympics for the first time in our own land and our own stadium. We will no longer be known as the sick man of Asia”
Many Chinese also harbored the hopes that the Olympics will help to bring the Americans and the West to understand China better and to view the country in the positive light and not to have these misconception that the Chinese are merely rail workers and cooks for the white employers and households.
On a final note, let us see in 4 years' time how the critical British handle the staging of the Olympics. I cannot wait to offer my sarcastic comments.