A lot of conversations related to Olympics and China came up recently among friends. I didn’t really pay much attention to Olympics. I wasn’t really excited about it. (However, I was very excited about China’s entry into WTO, and I could hardly sleep for the whole night because of the excitement. I deemed it an important step for China entering the world and starting playing with other countries.) But since it is close to the opening, I guess I can contribute an article to it. This is actually what I conversed with a friend today.
I have complicated feelings towards China hosting Olympics. I feel both bad things and good things about it.
First, the bad things. No. 1, Olympics is pretty much be taken by the Chinese government as an opportunity to show off. It is all about national pride and patriotism. I feel this is a very bad thing. China is far from the time to show off. This is not the time to show off. China still has huge problems and compared to the west China is still far behind. It gets the whole country to focus too much energy on superficial shallow things and forget all the huge problems that we have to deal with. I think it is always better to focus on more practical things.
Second, hosting Olympics gives the Chinese government an opportunity to exercise and strengthen the power and techniques of crowd control, in the name of fighting terrorists. For this, I also blame US for setting up a very bad example for the world to follow.
Good things. I feel this is a tremendously good opportunity for mutual cultural communication between China and the west. There is a strong view among Chinese intellect that for China to really change there has to be some kind of strong outside influence. Otherwise, the old culture is just too old and very hard to change. Although China has been under a lot of influence of the west in the recent two hundred years, that kind of influence is more imposed upon through the power of the state (carried out by military or corporations) and China has to change/adapt unwillingly. But the influence at the bottom level through cultural communication among people is totally on another massive level and is peaceful. I feel this kind of bottom level peaceful cultural communication is what can really bring about change. China has to go out to be part of the world. And the world has to get into China and be part of it. China’s entering into WTO, I suspect, is an effort (a huge one) by Chinese intellect in this direction.
This bottom level culture communication among people is the only thing that I can be excited about Olympics. However, whether the communication can be successful and how it turns out remain to be seen.
I later gave a brief rundown of Chinese recent history in the context of facing the western culture. I will make this another post.