Olympics Report Card: Success or Failure?

The Beijing Olympics the world saw on television was a runaway success. The athletes broke world records -- including three by just one man, Jamaica's Usain Bolt. The venues sparkled. Pollution was low and throughout most of the games there were brilliant "blue sky" days. China for the first time won the most gold medals of any country participating in the games.

Perhaps the only consistent gripe from tourists, besides all the security checks, was so minor as to be humorous -- the absence of hot dogs, hamburgers and other real food at the venues -- because Chinese government officials were only able to guarantee the safety of a few vendors.

But critics say the games had a darker side. They say the Olympics showcased how willing China is to use its authoritarian hand to hide its problems and intimidate, detain and punish those who might have spoiled their postcard perfect Beijing they hoped to show the world. They say that the Olympics have moved China backwards, not forwards in terms of human rights.

Perhaps most disappointing to critics was that world leaders and the International Olympic Committee for the most part remained silent, posing for happy pictures with Chinese leaders, while reports of heavy-handed efforts to control dissent continued to mount.

Construction sites were covered up with billboards, rundown, old-style hutongs were demolished, dissidents were rounded up and told to stay out of the city or at home. There were few protests but that was not seen as an indicator of harmony throughout the country as the Communist Party claimed -- but instead as a sign of repression.

Even the spectacular Opening Ceremonies were marred by controversy. The young girl who performed "Ode to the Motherland" on TV was actually lip syncing because the real singer was deemed not cute. There was also the news that one of the dancers had been paralyzed during a rehearsal but was told to stay quiet about the tragedy until after the games.

Below is a rundown of the promises China made when it won the right to host the 2008 Games and an assessment of whether or not it fulfilled them.

--Ariana Eunjung Cha

Security
Promise:
Chinese officials had said they had real fears that terrorist groups would mount attacks during the games but they assured world leaders that they would hold a safe and secure Olympics. They brought in a security force of 100,000 to ensure that everything went smoothly.

Reality:
Security was omnipresent.

In the first few days of the Olympics, there were a few scary incidents. In the western region of Xinjiang, a police station and some government buildings were attacked but the violence did not spread to the rest of the country as feared. An American tourist, the father-in-law of the U.S. men's Olympic volleyball coach, was killed and his wife seriously injured in a tragic but apparently random attack while they were visiting a popular tourist spot in the capital.

Otherwise, Beijing remained blissfully quiet.

Media Freedom
Promise:
Foreign reporters would be allowed to freely report what was going on during the Olympic games.

Reality:
The Chinese government upset media outlets early on by banning the live broadcast of images from Tiananmen Square. They also told journalists they would have to register to be able to report from the venue and have an escort. Reporters ignored this new regulation and China never enforced it.

Reporters at the Olympics press center discovered that Amnesty International's Web site -- and others -- were blocked from their computers while reporting on a human rights report the activist group released. There were cries of censorship. The Chinese government unblocked the Amnesty site, BBC, but various pro-Tibet sites and others remained blocked.

There were also a few scuffles involving photographers and a British TV reporter who was mistakenly thrown into a van while covering a protest. The latter incident infuriated some in the foreign press and they pummeled Olympic organizers with criticism about the incident.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said this weekend that the Olympics had been a disaster for free speech.

"This repression will be remembered as one of the defining characteristics of the Beijing games," said Robert Menard, secretary general of the organization.

But by Chinese standards, security officials for the most part have been gentle with the media. Even when there were demonstrations in Tiananmen Square by Christian activists and pro-Tibet groups, police allowed the interviews to take place before carrying off the protestors.

Dissent
Promise:
Human rights would improve. Three special protest zones would be set up in parks around the city to allow controlled demonstrations.

Reality:
There were very few anti-government protests during the Olympics. Beijing officials said this is because all disputes were resolved through dialogue. But the truth is China has been intimidating, arresting and detaining dissidents for months.

There were no protestors in the protest parks. China said it received 77 applications, the great majority of which were withdrawn "voluntarily," and the rest were rejected.

A woman from the eastern city of Suzhou was bullied by local police into returning home before she could file an application. One legal rights advocate was seen taken away by police after trying to file for a permit and never heard from again.

Two ladies in their 70s who went five times to apply for a permit were given a one-year re-education through labor sentence. The order said they could serve their sentence at home, but that if they misbehave authorities would send them to a labor camp.

Pollution
Promise:
There would be clean air and clear skies for the Olympics.

For years before the games, experts had been warning that Beijing was so badly polluted that it could affect performance at the games. Many athletes said they would arrive as late as possible. Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopia's world record holder in the marathon, said he would not run the marathon because he worried about the air quality. There was worry that some events may have to be postponed.

China went all out to make sure this didn't happen. It moved factories, ordered cars off the road, and added new subway lines. It also stopped all construction in the weeks before the games and sent missiles into the air to try to manipulate when and where rain came down.

Reality:
The Chinese government kept moving the goalposts of what constitutes good air by changing the way they monitor pollution and also by using interim World Health Organization standards when they originally promised to follow WHO standards.

On the other had, while the first day of the games was a bit hazy and it rained a bit during the rest of the games, the weather was unseasonably beautiful much of the time.

The men's marathon, the marquee event of the Olympics, was set in green parks under a glorious blue sky thanks to an overnight thunderstorm. On Sunday, the winner, Kenya's Samuel Wanjiru, finished the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours 6 minutes and 32 seconds -- setting an Olympic world record.

Chinese leaders have the power to control the weather after all.

August 24, 2008; 11:00 AM ET  | Category:  Postmark Beijing
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Comments

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What about spirit? One thing I've read in some complaints is that it was kind of boring inside some of the stadiums, almost 'canned' cheering without spontaneous celebrations. Any thoughts on that?

Posted by: PenguinSix | August 24, 2008 11:16 AM

@PenguinSix, The level and type of cheering definitely varied from venue to venue. As reported by several Post reporters, fans were often quite spirited and would cheer for all participants, not just the Chinese ones. There is not as much crazy fan culture in China as there is here in the U.S. -- body paint and primal screaming is certainly not abundant.

For the vast majority of events, most attendees were Chinese, and while soccer and basketball (along with your standard issue badminton and ping pong) are big here, at many sports it was difficult for most people to figure out when/how to cheer. However, the crowd was certainly warm and active at all the dozen or so events I attended, flag waving and temporary tattoos and all.

Posted by: Steve | August 24, 2008 11:47 AM

Nice article - which managed to find bones from chicken eggs :)

Posted by: California | August 24, 2008 11:52 AM

I wouldn't believe anything the Chinese Government said. They wanted to look good to the World at all cost. It is one thing to look good it is another to be good. Look at how they select their atheletes, and then take them to a training camp at age 12 and they never see their family again. They are only interested in winning not in human rights.

Posted by: marvin7 | August 24, 2008 11:54 AM

So much China-bashing. that is enough. do you believe your own government, one who insistently said that there was WMD in Iraq and invaded the poor country and caused thousands of civilian deaths? The Chinese government has been trying to improve itself, which biased foreign reporters have failed to see. Ask any Chinese in the street. 99% people show spontaneous enthusiasm and support for the Games.

Posted by: Smiley | August 24, 2008 12:25 PM

In my humble opinion, it's a fairly successfully Olympics and Chinese people did cheer for athlets from many other countries if not all. It is pathetic that this article writer is only determined to "pick bones from chicken egg" and dig as much as one can to criticize the Chinese organizer/people and the efforts they delivered. But I get it, there are certain people in this world enjoy flaming others regardless and is into "revealing" (creating) the bad side, so to speak. This is such a typical example of such.

Posted by: scorpion | August 24, 2008 12:32 PM

If a slight blood chemistry anomaly is grounds for medal loss ten or more years after the fact, the idea that the IOC and FIG can brush the underage girls under the rug is ludicrous.

It has nothing to do with "China Bashing" or the USA wanting to win, it's the rules that every country and athlete have to follow.

I see the article doesn't mention the Aug. 9th murder/stabbings of the US citizens in the midst of all that security.

Posted by: flashfyre | August 24, 2008 12:50 PM

To the angry Chinese posting comments here: ad hominem attacks and illogical arguments will only make American readers think you are brainwashed. Make logical criticisms of the article and people might listen to you.

Posted by: William | August 24, 2008 12:55 PM

poor and pathetic reporter.

Full of biases toward to China/Chinese.

Posted by: tomm | August 24, 2008 12:58 PM

I am disappointed by the cynical tone of this article.

Posted by: K. Rosenbaum | August 24, 2008 1:02 PM

The tile of this piece says it all. When this Games was vivewed as a great success all over the world, the Post insists putting it in different light. It it that "The critics say the games had a darker side", or the POST has a darker sinister side ?

Posted by: Adam-pk | August 24, 2008 1:16 PM

The naysayers can go to hell. They were the idiots 3 weeks ago claimed no one was going watch it.

Posted by: dufresne826 | August 24, 2008 1:27 PM

what is the big fuss about lip syncing? I know they should have put the real girl out, but I think they just over prepared, that's all there is to it.

And the stabbing was a random event that you have no way of preventing. But the victim was treated well at the hospital. Even the foreign minister visited her and make sure she receive the best possible treatment. I don't think that will happen in US.

@William, When the Chinese say the western media is biased, they do have valid points. News and media are never unbiased. It is always reported form an angle and the angle mostly employed in reporting China is negative.

When you are managing 1.3 billion, i think feeding them and making sure there is political stability comes before freedom of speech or etc. Too many people have died in the past because of political instability and war, so to many Chinese those "rights" kind of take the back seat. Now that doesn't make it right, i know, but also don't forget YOUR history of slavery and racism in America. REMEMBER THE KATRINA! China will eventually be free and democratic when it has finished its enormous task of undergoing economic and social transition. It is already freer than a decade ago. The trend will likely continue.

But criticism against China is deep rooted in ideology struggle. Western Media like to bash China BECAUSE it is a COMMUNIST country. But what is ironic is that it is only a name. If you have ever been to China, it is as capitalistic as you get. Chinese women are equal with men, and Chinese don't have caste system like India. You can be a poor farmer and can are allowed to rise up: the sky is literally the limit here. You might as well change that Communist Party to something like Confucian Party, and there won't be as much negative connotation. Because Singapore is has an autocratic government and you don't hear western media criticizing it too much.

You see you never hear western media talking about India's caste system or Japanese's treatment of women because they are "democratic". But I ask what is meant by "democracy" just the right to vote? I am sure you will disagree. Political freedom must be accompanied by social freedoms. Of course, India has passes laws fighting those caste system without much real progress in social level. Equal de jure but not de facto. China will be free, one day. When that day comes, you are gonna eat your words.

Also when western media report on Tibet, they always use the term "claim". The fact is that China invaded Tibet 800 years ago (yes, just like America invaded California, Texas, Hawaii, ...) and British and French took it away, so to speak, around Opium wars. Even then, they have a treaty signed where the British recognized that they will talk to Chinese when dealing with Tibet. Just like American Indians in America, they are self-governing to some extent but they cannot make negotiations with other foreign countries. US gov't represents Native Americans. It is A LIE that China invaded Tibet 50 years ago. It was done before US was founded.

Also in many sense, Tibet is very similar to Basque region in Spain. But they are treated very differently. Basque separatists are "rebels" or "terrorists" while Tibet separatist are "freedom fighters." any reporter knows the power of manipulating words like this.

A point will come in the future where California will be mostly resided by Mexicans. If they want independence or rejoin Mexico, I really really don't think the US is gonna let them do it. So, even if Chinese have human rights and they are still called Communist Party, there will be bias against them.

Posted by: Mike | August 24, 2008 2:06 PM

"Chinese leaders have the power to control the weather after all."

You really believe that? It makes the article close to clueless and tasteless.

Posted by: Weather | August 24, 2008 2:23 PM

You've no olympic spirit. You have nothing positive to say about human in general but negative and dismay, shame on you.

Posted by: Jimmy | August 24, 2008 2:28 PM

Intolerance of any criticism (valid or not) is a sign of insecurity and weakness, not strength and confidence. The Chinese need to learn that true stature speaks for itself. China is a great nation with a long history and will still be here after its current government is as long gone as the First Emperor.

Posted by: fred | August 24, 2008 2:35 PM

only a fool accept invalid criticism. You have to stand up for yourself. It is not a sign of weakness but rather a self respect.

Posted by: Mike | August 24, 2008 2:40 PM

This propaganda crap is as good as China's. The Chinese media brainwashes it's people by presenting only positive things to its own people. The US media brainwashes it's own people by demonizing others.

A balanced/unbiased analysis presents both the bright side and the dark side. Now you tell me what this article is trying to push here.

Posted by: a dude | August 24, 2008 2:41 PM


LA Olympics were the best ever. Absolutely
clean airport; no pollution! Zero crime!
Black and White harmony always!

Atlanta Olympics - Safest stadiums in the world! ZERO Crime!

Posted by: Xiang Do | August 24, 2008 2:42 PM

Whatever happened to "critical thinking"? Is there no such thing as being able to read a news story, watch newscasts and then to think things through based on the facts and logic anymore? Where is civil discourse?
Everyone seems to think that screaming insults and stupidities a la tv talk shows is political or any kind of debate. Where is the thinking? Where is the logic? Where is the knowledge, where are the facts?

Posted by: News reader | August 24, 2008 2:44 PM

Fred, constructive criticism is totally different than demonizing. What is this article trying to do here? Simply put. It is to brainwash the American Joes like you.

Posted by: Dude | August 24, 2008 2:45 PM

I think the reporter is unhappy that U.S. could not get as many GOLD medals as the Chinese.

China and third world country bashing is evident from DAY ONE at every olympics. At the opening ceremony telecast, Bob Costas would inevitably talk about Chinese athletes and doping; this time ofcourse with Marion Jones in the same boat, he refrained from the comment. When Pakistan marched past, this guy could only think about politics. Freedom to be DUMB journalists I guess!

Posted by: Mohammed Usul | August 24, 2008 2:49 PM

China is to be congratulated for a spectacular success. Let the critics and whiners look for the flaws at the margins but overall this was the best Olympics since....well, ever!

Posted by: Jimbo Hexian | August 24, 2008 2:59 PM

I think Mike's have points.

Posted by: wil | August 24, 2008 3:02 PM

Sore loosers Americans, don't you ever get tired of making excuse for your failures? Grow up...........

Posted by: Ah Hah | August 24, 2008 3:03 PM

Why must we constantly give China a free pass? There were obviously questionable Chinese claims and instances of repression and possible cheating at these olympics. Why must we look away?

Any country that demands to be looked on as a world leader must accept the glare of world scrutiny, right or wrong. Only an immature nation constantly screams in its own defense without offering a shred of evidence to disprove the claims being made. It only reinforces world doubt.

Now we hear that China may have faked its "historic" climb of everest with the olympic torch. (nepalnow.blogspot.com). The claims made by this blogdai person are reasonable, not screaming and shrill, and demand an explanation.

I came away from all the olympic controversy with the feeling that it's ok to deal with the Chinese, but you have to independently verify everything they claim so you won't get burned.

Posted by: Feng | August 24, 2008 3:06 PM

I think China is a pretty cool guy,eh stomps everyone who gets in his way and doesnt afraid of anything.

Posted by: F | August 24, 2008 3:10 PM

Well said, Mike.
Americans will never understand China's problems because they often put their idealogy infront of reality when judging others and they honestly don't know much about China (but they think they do). China has made huge progress in the past 20 years but she'll always suffer prejudice from the West because she's being labeled as a Communist country.

Posted by: venus | August 24, 2008 3:12 PM

None (persons or countries) are perfect I guess. Not all bad, not all good. Remember the middle way. Reporters should report the good and the bad. It is our responsibility as humans (not one country/race/religion versus another) to READ the good and the bad and make decisions from there. For me, the brightest faces are those not expected to win or to lose, but who want to participate as co-inhabitants of this planet. Governments that allow everything have problems, governments that allow nothing have problems. They, as those peoples and or participants who MUST win, create more ultimate sorrow for themselves than any "outside" influence.

Posted by: grey beard | August 24, 2008 3:12 PM

@ William: You mention the angry Chinese posting "ad hominem attacks and illogical arguments will only make American readers think you are brainwashed". True, but I'd wager to guess that the belligerent comments on here from the "angry Chinese" are predominantly from members of the Chinese Government! I doubt that your "average Chinese citizen" would even have access to this site; almost definitely not to this article which even though it is 100% true, puts China in a negative light.

The lasting legacy from these games will be the sickening length to which China will go to impress the rest of the World. No-one will ever forget the fact that the Chinese Government was so ridiculously unscrupulous as to forge their own Government documents to "adjust" the ages of their competitors. Can you imagine what would have happened to one of these Athletes (or worse yet, a regular citizen) if they forged a Government document on their own? Just like the legal rights advocate that filed for a permit to protest and was "never heard from again".

The rest of the World is not fooled and if anything, human rights in China has taken a huge step backwards. The "angry Chinese" posting here might think things have magically changed, but just wait another couple of weeks until the fervor of the Olympics wears off and things return to normal. Or, worse yet, Government officials go after all the people that committed acts normally considered reprehensible while the veil of the Olympic Games shrouded Beijing. Oh yes, the Chinese Gestapo has a long and detailed memory and aren't unwilling to manipulate your "friends" and "family" into turning against you to serve their purposes.

One other thing that I wanted to point out: shouldn't a country with 1.3 BILLION people; a population so diverse that it ranges from the likes of Yao Ming to He Kexin (although she is only 14 so she still should have some years to grow if all of the gymnastics hasn't caused her growth pates to fuse), always dominate the Gold Medal count anyway? Also the overrall medal count?! The United States only has 300 million citizens! Maybe that says a little something about Democracy versus Communism...

Posted by: True Blue American | August 24, 2008 3:16 PM

I feel sorry for this brainless reporter

Posted by: Eric | August 24, 2008 3:30 PM

"Perhaps most disappointing to critics was that world leaders and the International Olympic Committee for the most part remained silent, posing for happy pictures with Chinese leaders"

Of course they did -- the IOC because it has always been a nest of closet fascists (the entire ethos and esthetics of the games could have been scripted by Leni Riefenstahl) and the "world leaders" because they all would love to run things back home the way the Chinese do -- as the Cheney Administration demonstrates daily.

Posted by: Peter Principle | August 24, 2008 3:35 PM

Ariana Eunjung Cha is so astonishingly prejudized. There are American foods all around Beijing. There are so many countries that dominant American food vendors is not appropriate. No countries, including USA, can tolerate thug and goon protesters/dissenters to spoil the Olympic event. 'Construction sites were covered up with billboards, rundown, old-style buildings were demolished, dissidents were rounded up and told to stay out of the city or at home" happen in London as it is preparing for the 2012. Olympic opening event is an show business, including lip sync. I hope Ariana knows what a show business is. Security is as promised as far as Olympic is concerned. In any country, including USA, no reporters will be allowed to use their privilage to collaborate with thugs and goons to stage prohibited events. I hope Ariana understand. As far as dissent is concerned, Ariana must know that USA police is setting up detention centers in presidential campaign sites ready to lock up any rowdy dissenters. I hope Ariana knows that the interim WHO standard is more up to date than the existing WHO standard.

Posted by: thmak | August 24, 2008 3:39 PM

This is why US is a better place to live. A crazy biased media reporter like this one will be sent to re-education camp for 5 years already in China.

:)

Posted by: Hua | August 24, 2008 3:59 PM

The Olympics report card for America is not so great. It failed to win the most gold medals even though it bought foreign athletes to compete for the U.S.. The use of the Sudanese refugee athlete to carry the U.S. flag was also a failure, China was certainly not bothered by this trickery. It is still doing business with the Sudanese government as usual.

Posted by: Maersk | August 24, 2008 4:08 PM

WOW! How many people did the Communist regime of China send to this site alone to create a dis-information campaign?! Joseph Goebbels would be proud!

BTW: All you mis-informed, ill-educated, brainwashed Chinese puppets can look up who Goebbels was via Wikipedia. Whoops, you're probably denied access to Wikipedia...

Posted by: Chris | August 24, 2008 4:41 PM

Cha, who give you right to write a report card? In school, teachers give student report card; while in companies, bosses give subordinates report card. In Olympic, only those athletes who participate the game have right to give report card. If you want to express your personal opinion, that is fine but could not be called "Report Card" because you don't have authority to do that.

Posted by: ABC | August 24, 2008 4:48 PM

CHINA 1
FREE TIBET 0.0

GO CHINA!!!


Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2008 5:22 PM

@ABC: How do you like living in China? It's probably not so bad for you, since you work for the government and therefore participate in much more oppression than you are subjected to.

At least Cha bothered to learn some proper English (or had the courtesy and or mental-capacity to use grammar and spell-check) before posting. You'd think officials in the Chinese Government would know better. But then, if they did, China pobably wouldn't be an uncivilized Communist country.

Posted by: Chris | August 24, 2008 6:01 PM

americans showed their true color -- sore losers and whiners who do not know how to embrace defeat.

romans/brits...

Posted by: abc | August 24, 2008 6:06 PM

for those idiots americans and canadians and auralians and europeans who protest for independent tibet -- learn some history before open your idiotic and dirty mouth -- Chinese invaded and controlled Tibet since 700 years ago -- 500 years before u idiots' ancestors took america from indians and australia from the locals.

so before u wrap up your white arses and go back to europe and hand over america back to indians and australia to locals -- shut your filthy mouth and go ph-a-k yourself in your home and do not even bother to protest in China, because your idiomatic view will only push Chinese to be unnecessarily more nationalistic.

Posted by: abc | August 24, 2008 6:14 PM

@ABC: Nationalistic, or Imperialistic? Or do you even know the difference? Your comments alone clearly demonstrate your limited intellectual capacity and immaturity. I didn't realize the Chinese Government employed 12 year old whining girls?

Posted by: Chris | August 24, 2008 6:30 PM

Or do they only hire them as underage Gymnasts?

Posted by: Chris | August 24, 2008 6:31 PM

@ABC: And what defeat would that be? Winning MORE medals with a population of 300 Million people than a country with 1.3 BILLION?!

Posted by: Chris | August 24, 2008 6:33 PM

WOAH....You call hamburgers and hot dogs REAL FOOD?

That is just so laughable.

Posted by: Andrew | August 24, 2008 6:34 PM

Many of the articles in this paper "covering" the Olympics have been quite hostile to China and the Olympic ideals. Since when were the Olympics intended to change a country's policies? I doubt if the IOC tried to end colonialism and militarism in the European countries which hosted most of the Olympic games during the first six decades of the twentieth century. I doubt if the IOC tried to persuade the United States to end segregation, improve human rights, especially for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans during the first seven decades of this century.

Had the Olympics been held in the United States this year, would the IOC have tried to expect the end the occupation of Iraq, close the gulags, cease illegal domestic spying, implement immigration reform, enact new policies to reduce poverty, abolish the electoral college to make presidential elections more democratic, etc? Yet according to those who did not like the Olympics being in China, the Chinese should have changed their society, to the liking of these foreigners for the Olympics to have been a "success."

Unfortunately for many years, neo-conservatives have dominated international "coverage" in "The Washington Post." Support for the war in Iraq, trying to revive the cold war against Russia are two examples. "The New York Times" has been and is generally more reliable in offering a semblance of objecting reporting, when "covering" international events.

Posted by: Independent | August 24, 2008 6:47 PM

I hope the human right issue never coming up in 2012.

Posted by: good luck London | August 24, 2008 6:58 PM

I'm watching the closing ceremonies, and it's kinda like the Munchkin village on acid - I'm expecting a wicked, technicolor, laser witch to appear any moment now.

Posted by: Tez | August 24, 2008 8:36 PM

It's interesting to see what I presume to be mostly young people of various cultures take sides so vehemently.

The generation after this will probably wonder what this is all about, as nationalism dwindles and people become citizens of the world, with their affiliations defined by their principles, religions, employment and other non-national factors.

Posted by: jd | August 24, 2008 8:56 PM

Westerners take pride in their media because their media is biased, anc because their media can be biased toward many direction.
But the case for china is different, most western media is biased about china toward the same direction of bashing China.
But it doesn't really matter for chinese people, for this kind of attitude is fully expected.
Of the many western originated ideas, chinese people, I say everyone in China from President Hu, from CCP members, to everyday chinese believes: There is no such thing called justice, democracy, human rights, liberty existing in world's political reality. These thing may exist in the hearts of naive person, but not in real world.
Power alone is the universal value.
China today is the practicing the "Jungle law".
So if you westerner choose to be china's friend, then friden china will be.
If you choose to be china's enemy, then enemy china will becomes.

Posted by: KLYJ | August 24, 2008 11:05 PM

I think the article is quite balanced and fair. If you just want to hear about how great everything went and how the world loves the Olympics then head over to either Xinhua or China Daily. I'm sure they'll suit you.

By the way, to all the people who think Westerns bash China, just look at China Daily's forums (in English) full of jingoism and West bashing.

New Tang Dynasty TV -- I think -- proves that it isn't an East-West thing, rather a freedom of speech thing. That New York based Chinese language site reports the good and bad in the Chinese global community.

Posted by: MichaelMogg | August 25, 2008 12:22 AM

I was always under the impression that good journalism presents the facts, good as well as bad and not their opinions so that readers can decide for themselves. The writer of this article only digs into the "dark side" with ill-informed opinions, I must say, and dare call it a "report card". Shame on you.
As to some of the comments relating to allerged under-aged athlete and government faking documents, I have not heard any such proof. I thought people are innocent until proven guilty. How come the double standard that Chinese are quilty until proven innocent? Shame on you too.

Posted by: Joe of Australia | August 25, 2008 12:47 AM

to True Blue American | August 24, 2008 3:16 PM.
You are being presumptuous in assuming that the female gymnast's documents are forged, without proof. There well could be a clerical error. A few years ago we were issued with new drivers licenses. Guess what, a lot of the licenses with the right name and photo but wrong birthday or,vice versa.
AS for American sporting success, its been reliant on performance enhancers since day one.
Quite a few correspondents and bloggers have described the Chinese Olympic presentation as tacky.If you want tacky, there are 31 branches of Macdonalds handy to the site of the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. The Chinese may eat cats and dogs, but we have the stomach for anything.
Since when was democracy and democracy a criteria for being awarded the Olympic Games.. Remember South Korea> It was a military dictatorship with human right abuses, when it was awarded the Games. So was the Soviet Union., Anyway as Winstone CHurchill the Prime Minister of Great Britain once said, 'Democracy is the worst form of Government.

SAm. New Zealand

Posted by: sam | August 25, 2008 1:01 AM

May I add that the Olympic Games is held primarily for the athletes of the world, the environment including services and facilities for them to perform the best of their abilities and to be recognised. These include security, transportation, training etc. It is not an event for us spectators, media or the prominent guests. So it is only the atheletes who have the right to vote whether it is a success or failure. From what I read in the official olympic press conferences the atheletes gave it a thumbs up.

Posted by: Joe of Australia | August 25, 2008 1:04 AM

Some of the Japanese gymnast looked impish and younger than 16, so how come no one complained about them. Perhaps they were a bunch of easybeats?

Sam. New Zealand

Posted by: sam | August 25, 2008 1:08 AM

hehe, War Made Easy. Americans always want to make war with other people. Damn bloody selfish.

Posted by: Oliver | August 25, 2008 1:59 AM

In response to those who claim that comments here are being written by 'officials in the Chinese Government', do you seriously think that a group of English-literate government officials in China would waste their time commenting on one article in one newspaper in one country, not just once but multiple times? Do you suppose that officials would have that much spare time, or would have any interest in trying to prove a point to a tiny handful of internet users who are likely impossible to convince?

Interestingly, those who support other countries are not automatically tagged as 'officials' from those countries. I wonder why.


To Chris, since you decided to make a note of Cha's lack of grammar-checking and spell-checking, I would like to point out that 'courtesy and or mental-capacity' contains two mistakes already. Firstly, 'and or' should be 'and/or'. Secondly, 'mental-capacity' requires no hyphen. If I wanted to go through each of your comments and find more errors, I could do so easily.

Before nitpicking the way you are, perhaps you should remember that automatic grammar checking is not foolproof, that humans make mistakes, that attacking someone's writing on the internet is pointless and that the validity of a point does not have any direct correlation with the grammatical accuracy of the writing. Why drag grammar mistakes up? As you can see with what I am doing to you, it achieves next to nothing.


For the record, I am Australian and not Chinese by any stretch of the imagination. Believe me if you like; otherwise, feel free to call me an official in the Chinese government, or to point out any typos I have made in my comment. Otherwise, you could also just go and do something less critical and more meaningful. Your call.

Posted by: Angela | August 25, 2008 6:41 AM

Some western ppl didn't come to China and even try to understand Chinese but were always finding faults ridiculously with everything China has done. For this Beijing Olympiad,those blind ppl feel disappointed at its spectacular success coz they failed to see the "more interesting " mad FLG ppl,dangerous Xizang and Xinjiang separatists other than the efforts Chinese ppl has made for the Games.

Posted by: tenderstorm | August 25, 2008 7:43 AM

I'm afraid some of you are mistaking this BLOG as an actual news story. If you had been following the Post's Olympic Coverage you would understand that they have been reporting on all aspects of the games as well as blogging about their *personal* experiences and impressions. Blogs and opinion columns are by definition based on the bias of the writer. So everyone calm down. No one is going to change the world or anyone else's mind here in the comments section of a WaPo Blog.

Posted by: Calm Down | August 25, 2008 9:11 AM

NOW the ppl of the world should BOYCOTT MADE IN CHINA junk. I do. I'll pay more for anything NOT made in China. Low quality TRASH that they push on the world's consumers! In some countries, stores are required to post a sign out side the store warning customers that products sold there are made in China. Well, its time that practice spread around the world.

Posted by: yard80197 | August 25, 2008 9:46 AM

Nice article that helps people to realize the truth nature of the communist regime after a "glorious" game masking it.

Actually there are more fake things at the game than the lip-syncing girl. A large portion of the firework at the opening ceremony shown in TV was done by animation; the ages of Chinese gymnastics girls are fake; All of the 56 kids dressed in 56 ethnicities costumes at the opening ceremony are all Han ethnicity; The piano that Lang Lang played at the opening ceremony even didn't have its lid lifted; Many audience were organized volunteers and dressed in the same yellow shirts to fill in large portion of empty seats though Beijing regime claimed all tickets were sold out.

I am sure that there were no less praising comments after the 1936 Berlin games, which was also "glorious" enough at that age. The illusion similar to the one broken out 3 years later(in 1939) are shrouding many people today.

Sadly, history always repeat itself in similar way. Hope we can learn the lesson from the past and keep a sober mind.

Posted by: Larry | August 25, 2008 11:14 AM

I think it was a great success for China. Some may not like their methods, but they maintained the focus on the athletes and athletic competition--which is what the athletes needed. The result was great for the athletes. The rest of us don't really matter. The Olympics, for all the hype and the opportunities for others to draw attention to themselves and their causes--BS or otherwise--is supposed to be about the athletes. They're the ones who have put forth the effort to be the best at what they do. It's supposed to be their showcase and the rest of us should at least have the decency to let them show it without every whimpering victim freeloading on the TV coverage. Take a break from your other realities and just rejoice for these kids no matter what circumstances they come from. When did it become ok for others to hijack the Olympics for political purposes? Answer: It never became ok. Hats off to China for the great show.

Posted by: Panhandle Willy | August 25, 2008 12:29 PM

I hope reader's comments will be part of writer's annual performance review. Good luck!

Posted by: observer | August 25, 2008 12:29 PM

By now, most people in China know that it is a perfect "egg" without any bones. That's how the communist party wants them to know and that's how the games are viewed by the general public. Bone-picking voices are bound to be silenced.

Imagine if all the pro-game posts here and elsewhere were silenced just as the opposite would for sure happen in China, Americans would be ignorant at least on this issue. Thank God, we are given the very basic right to speak, whatever you feel like.

I see no harm done by allowing, in this particular case, the game defenders to voice their love for their country and the communist party. (I hope you can tell the difference) It has nothing to do with how well we eat, dress, or how we prosper. Freedom of speech in a free state does not cause "social instability". However, in China, people are so used to being deprive of rights, that they even self-brainwash and often defend the party with official party justifications.

I hope people will one day start to wonder, after all the glories, what is it that the party is so afraid of people talking?!

Posted by: John | August 25, 2008 12:47 PM

@John, your mind is pre-wired that any objective comments to favor the Beijing game are from China or Communist Party. But if you check the media else where, from Australia to New Zealand, from west Europe to east Europe, from Brazil to Argentina, favorable view of this game is dominant: all said this is the best Olympic game ever. What are you afraid of a positive comment? I can assure you that no comments here are coming from China or Communist Party. None. Zero. A great game is a great game. It is achievment of mankind. Let Olympic spirit ring!

Posted by: ABC | August 25, 2008 1:33 PM

In my view, China hosted a spectacular games . . . paid for though the abuse of fundamental freedoms. Shame on it (and the world for winking at these abuses).

Posted by: nprovenzo | August 25, 2008 3:01 PM

Chinese are happy with their government because their life has improved a lot and they think their country is moving in a right direction.

They may not be allowed to say 100% of what they want to, but they can say most of it, which is good enough for Chinese people for now. They care more about what they can enjoy now in their life than a few things they are not allowed to say.

Chinese against any separation of their county and any supports of the separation are not welcome in China. So they mind less when the government takes actions against those protesters/separatists.

Hope you got it this time.

Posted by: Lina | August 25, 2008 5:09 PM

Is it possible that Olympics can change the behavior of a cheating murderous regime?

A country bribed for the right to host the Olympics.
The same country held the Olympics event in 2002.
The same country invaded Iraq in 2003 illegally. It lied to get support from allies. Hundreds of thousand innocent people died as a result.
I would say that’s a NO.

Posted by: Siddhattha | August 25, 2008 5:33 PM

Some Chinese are happy, some others aren't nearly as happy. THE problem is that, you never hear from the unhappy.

"protesters/separatists"? Do most people in China even know what they protest for? When was the last time you see a protest in public since Tiananmen Massacre?

The people should be given the freedom to listen and talk to THE protesters/separatists face to face and understand what they want to express, instead of depending on the CCTV and People's Daily to relay, more accurately, distort the messages. Does anyone ever wonder why you always hear "anti-China", and never "anti-communist"? The CCP takes cover under the so easily stirred up "nationalism" and "patriotism".

Being able to take and digest criticism and react in a positive manner is one of the signs of a true rising "super power".

Posted by: John | August 25, 2008 5:47 PM

The game is for Bush, and he really enjoyed it and did what Hu wants him to do.

The workers who built the Bird's Nest were forced to leave Beijing during the Game time.
Obviously the game is not for the 900 million Chinese farmers.

Posted by: Eric | August 25, 2008 5:49 PM

to all those who think that the Chinese govt officials won't waste time blogging in this site, I'd say I disagree. remember Orwell's 1984 regime in Airstrip One. No detail was too small to pay attention to. It is very important to such regimes to convert their victims/enemies before killing them...so I believe that with 1.3 billion ppl the 'cawmunists' have a LOT of govt employees paying a lot of attention to even insignificant sites such as these. After all what else do these guys have to do in life? You can see it our own gov't employees in the "Free" world...listening to RedRiding Hood talking to her Grandmother...it's not really that much different! (PS: I thought that AIPAC was very active in defending Isrealli illegal activity, and they are a small group. Here we are dealing with the largest pop in the world! RAOTFBNL)

Posted by: yard80197 | August 25, 2008 6:04 PM

Seems some Chinese spies work as professional monitors online posted some "opinions" here under this report. Read those, you can easily see who they are.

This is a good report, helping readers see the true nature of the Communist regime.

Posted by: Brian | August 25, 2008 6:30 PM

"Make logical criticisms of the article and people might listen to you."
Posted by: William | August 24, 2008 12:55 PM"

THERE IS NO LOGIC TO RACISM.

THUS, ANY EXPLANATIONS, BESIDES POINTING-OUT YOUR DISGUSTING RACIST BEHAVIOR, IS UNNECESSARY.

Posted by: Chen | August 25, 2008 7:24 PM

Posted by: True Blue American
"The lasting legacy from these games will be the sickening length to which China will go to impress the rest of the World."

IT IS CALLED BEING A GREAT HOST.

APPARENTLY, YOU MUST NEVER ENTERTAIN ANYONE IN YOUR TRAILER!

Posted by: Chen | August 25, 2008 7:49 PM

The use of a Sudanese to carry the American flag is tacky, since you yanks have contributed a fair share in the misery of the southern Sudanese. A fact cleverly avoided by your newspapers.

Sam N. Z.

Posted by: Sam | August 25, 2008 9:41 PM

penguinSix saidaid on August 24,
What about spirit? One thing I've read in some complaints is that it was kind of boring inside some of the stadiums, almost 'canned' cheering without spontaneous celebrations. Any thoughts on that?

In some societies loud boisterous cheering and other antics so often admirably demonstrated by Aussies and Americans, is not the norm. Some people often find it a rather boorish behavioural pattern.

Posted by: Sam | August 25, 2008 10:22 PM

Security - Good
Media Freedom - Medium
Dissent - Fail
Pollution - Medium

Posted by: Report Card | August 26, 2008 4:46 AM

Overseas Chinese always hear from the unhappy (we can hardly hear from the happy) and we know very well what the protesters/separatists want. We know Chinese government has problems but it doesn’t mean that they do nothing right. And we like lots of what they are doing in China. The goal is to improve Chinese people’s life, it doesn’t have to be in Western way, and it can be in Chinese way, whatever works. Free speech and right to vote are important, but having a happy, comfortable, safe and secure life is more important. Chinese are going in that direction and it’s good. American people have their EVERY right, but how happy are they? And how safe and secure do they feel about their life? Your efforts will pay off much better if you spend your time finding better ways to improve American people’s life instead of arguing how Chinese should think about their county and their government.

Posted by: lina | August 26, 2008 10:14 AM

People can take sides and have their own opinion on anything and everything, and that is probably why many come to the US. Thanks lina for being reasonable. I wish this was a more common trait among those pro-China or pro-CCP.

lina is right, no one is perfect, the US government is terrible. But there's something very good about this country, we can criticize and even make fun of the government, political parties, we could even impeach the President. Most people here don't take it personally. What's with Chinese people when it come to CCP? The emotion isn't necessary in my opinion.

Governments don't always do the right things. Right, they often conduct wrongdoings, US included. However, most don't do what the CCP does to Chinese people. They don't cut open live people and snatch their organs for sale. http://organharvestinvestigation.net

Just before those of you start cursing, I'd like to say that this is a valid concern over China's organ harvesting. (China admits taking organs from "executed prisoners" for decades. The organ issue raise in the recent couple years address in the investigation is another step up in its brutality)

If you are truly pro-China and not just pro-CCP, you should look into this issue and find out whether this is indeed happening.

Posted by: John | August 26, 2008 11:59 AM

You are welcome John.
I’m not sure if “the US government is terrible”. I think most people come to the US for a better life and for opportunities. People from Mexico, India, Canada and Europe have their right to vote and free speech in their own countries. They don’t need to come to the US for the rights.

I really don’t believe that CCP would “cut open live people and snatch their organs for sale”. I’ve never heard of that even by any Western medias. It at least has to be on one of the creditable medias for me to believe it. As of “taking organs from executed prisoners”, I disagree with the doing but do see the point “why not use the organ to save other’s life?” In general, Chinese waste less and recycle/reuse more, no matter with what. They may do it in an embarrassing way but there is logic behind. And I think prisoners should be forced to work. It is not only beneficial to the society, it is beneficial to the prisoners themselves, so they can buildup skills to use when they get out of prison.

Posted by: lina | August 26, 2008 3:15 PM

Posted by: John | August 26, 2008 11:59 AM
Just before those of you start cursing, I'd like to say that this is a valid concern over China's organ harvesting.

HEY....JSTFU!!!!

Posted by: Chen | August 26, 2008 3:41 PM

John,you are so misinformed. Poor guy. Organ harvesting? Are you kidding me? Where did you pick up this kind of garbage? Do you know that this topic is a laughing stock among better informed people? Do you know that the US State Dept. has conducted an investigation and found no evidence? It is such a joke! Wake up, talk about being brainwashed.

Posted by: jennifer | August 26, 2008 4:10 PM

This report is just rubbish. It is a big waste of my time to read it. Beijing Olympics was a great success, the best ever!

Posted by: Kate | August 26, 2008 6:08 PM

This report is just rubbish. It is a big waste of my time to read it. Beijing Olympics was a great success, the best ever!

Posted by: Kate | August 26, 2008 6:08 PM

This report is just rubbish. It is a big waste of my time to read it. Beijing Olympics was a great success, the best ever!

Posted by: Kate | August 26, 2008 6:09 PM

We should boycott Post. It is rubbish. The fact is the Chinese happiness index is multiple of US's. A much higher percentage of Chinese citizens support their government than US citizens supporting ours. And China's growth rate is three times of that of US. Fix our own problem before picking on others

Posted by: Nonsense | August 26, 2008 10:31 PM

We should boycott Post. It is rubbish. The fact is the Chinese happiness index is multiple of US's. A much higher percentage of Chinese citizens support their government than US citizens supporting ours. And China's growth rate is three times of that of US. Fix our own problem before picking on others

Posted by: Nonsense | August 26, 2008 10:31 PM

"Organ harvesting " is as true as "Irag possessing weapon of mass destruction" except that the latter is too big that the truth is finally revealed even to the Americans.
I am Chinese, born and bred in Australia, lived in various countries for 20 out of 35 years of my working life.
Yes, China still needs lot of mprovement but has to be at her pace and priority. When you are still hungry and cold is your priority to go to the movies or have freedom of speech? In China the majority of the people are still living in poverty and that must be the country leaders' top priority and their way of achieving that is to excercise control.
To the west most of whom are already well fed, of course our priorities are diff Western people do not understand that confucius teaching, which I am still influenced by, is self-sacrifice for the good of the motherland, incl giving up "human rights" as known in the western world. Attached exerpt A gives some idea for those who care to read.
Criticism done in a friendly manner or constructively is welcome, but bashing is a different story. In my opinion it is the western media continuous, sometimes incorrect and certainly uninformed or mis-informed bashing that has fueled the nationalism within the Chinese community.
China will not fall because of these bashing, so why waste time. The media and ordinary citizens of west fed by information from their media or anti-communists measure China using their own standard. Eg US is still using imperial
system while the rest of the world use metric. No one tries to impose it on the
US. Pls accept that diff country, culture have different values and standards.
Go to any website outside US, Olympic medal ranking is by Gold, than Silver ... which makes China on top, consistent with IOC official method of ranking. All US media I visited changed to total medals this time and made US on top. Also read comments on NBC Olympic TV coverage where a lot of time is on politics rather than enjoying the Games. I can give a lot more example how the US media give you what they think you want to hear. Now, whose media is brain-washing who. I also put in an exerpt B for your reading.

Exerpt A
China's upbeat conformity may look strange to us, but it's part of a powerful tradition.
By Robert Louis Chianese
August 12, 2008

Our Western reporters seem shocked, amused, even smug about discovering modern China's repressive practices. In her recent Op/Ed article, "Beijing reality show," Heather Havrilesky believes that because China oppresses its 1.3 billion people, the Olympics is a complete PR sham. However, it is the Chinese way to clamp down on protest and exercise self-control.
Social harmony: Chinese culture reveres social "harmony" over individuality and dissent. From the time of Confucius, Lao Tzu and the dynastic emperors, and continuing through the communists, Chinese authority figures have preached the value of family, hierarchy, social cohesion and getting along without rocking the boat.
Many Westerners approve of the harmony-and-serenity part of ancient Chinese philosophy and Buddhism but scorn the part about surrendering to totality and obeying the big ruler, which is often the means toward harmony. This dedication to solidarity wears a happy public face, the one we usually see in China. The mass Chinese displays of synchronized movements in the Beijing Olympics can seem to us like robotic oppression of the individual, but to them, it is the dance of social harmony. Without a tradition of individualism and personal rights, Chinese society represents the perfect counterbalance to our own rights-emphatic culture. If we find fault with the suppression of the individual in China, we also might fail to see the disadvantages in the West of devaluing social harmony. We in the U.S. seem to be going off in 330 million directions at once. Contrariwise, our current administration wishes to overrule the Bill of Rights in the name of security, our debased form of "harmony."
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-
oew-chianese12-2008aug12,0,5743106.story?track=ntothtml

Exerpt B
THE former (Australia) prime minister Paul Keating has attacked the Western media's coverage of the Beijing Olympics as condescending, elitist and typical of the developed world's general disdain for China.
Most of the coverage was seen through the prism of Tibet, Mr Keating told the Melbourne Writers' Festival at the weekend, and disregarded the "massive leaps" forward in areas such as poverty alleviation and declining infant mortality.
"In a Western and elitist way, we have viewed China's right to its Olympic Games, to its 'coming out', its moment of glory, with condescension and concessional tolerance," Mr Keating said.
"The Western critic, feeling the epicentre of the world changing but not at all liking it, seeks to put down these vast societies on the basis that their political and value systems don't match up to theirs."
http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/news/n
ational/national/general/reports-on-
china-elitist-says-keating/1252692.aspx

Posted by: Joe of Australia | August 27, 2008 12:19 AM

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