Muse of 2008 Olympic torch relay

By Uncle T Cabin (
Updated: 2008-05-06 20:28

-- Whack on the ugly head of anti-China-ism

I have the fortune, or misfortune, of being a Chinese working in the media industry of the United States. I usually take pride in being a moderate, just like many average Chinese. We Chinese have believed in separation of church and state, for a long time in our history. We believe that faith and spirituality are private matters between individuals and gods. We don't force our belief systems onto other people and call them "barbarian" or "uncivilized" when they refuse to accept. But that is not to say we are not spiritual. We revere gods, respects our elders and ancient greats. We believe in their preaching, such as moderation, respect for nature, harmony -- the stuff with which Dalai Lama used to charm you Western folks.

I try to come as moderate as it gets as a stereotypical Chinese. I buy products "made in USA", "made in Japan", "made in India", "made in Pakistan", "made in Germany", "made in England", "made in Mexico", and of course, "made in China" too. I have been taught to be objective, professional, being in this business of journalism and all… but once in a life time, I feel like deviating from moderation. After all, it is not likely that China will be hosting another summer Olympics any time soon, and this could be my "last chance", as Dalai Lama his Holiness said about a year ago. So, let's party.

All the recent protests against the 2008 Olympic torch relay are not against Chinese government, as some protesters repeated. They are against all of the ordinary Chinese people living everywhere in the world. These protests are also against humanity, particularly an international organization called IOC, and all of the sports loving human being who treasure the Olympic spirit.

Watching the events unfolding along the torch relay, I realized that the idea of stability outweighing everything else was a brilliant stroke by the Chinese leadership.

For the rest of us who are not human rights activists, things like: economy, job creation, quality of life, are more important to us. Look at what happened in China for the last two decades. If there were to be an "Olympic group competition for political leadership" based on satisfaction of its people from their respective nations, team China surely would be ranked as a strong medal contender. In fierce international competitions, not making too many mistakes is a virtue, as is in sports, "offense wins the glory, defense wins the game". Team China did not go after flashy ideas of "dramatic freedom", "overnight privatization of state properties" like Russia, but gradually introduced "market economy", "local election systems" and "anti-corruption media monitoring systems", therefore deserves a medal. Other strong contenders? South Korean, India, Finland, maybe. Japan had a good first half, but then collapsed and couldn't close the game …. I would still throw in US and Germany in there for their overall strength, but that's just my personal picks. UK? like that football team from England in the World Cups, got star powers and opportunities but under-achieved.

I told my colleagues in US that I think China progressed quite well in the category of democracy. My colleagues in the newsroom would act shocked and try to persuade me: "But China is not democratic". "You can't vote there". "You would be put in jail if they learn about your past". They just ignore all the progress in China that I have just mentioned to them.

I tried to teach co-workers a little bit of Chinese sometimes, thinking that might somehow help them on the job if they can understand China’s peaceful rise. China had never advocated spreading communism through violence. If any communists ever wanted to "spread" communism like Christians wanted to spread gospels in the old days, those communists were overwhelmingly from European or American factions.

But the Chinese phrases that my Western media colleagues are most interested in learning are the greetings and other ones related to flirting, then the learning would stop. Who can blame them. We are all humans and we all believe in moderation, force of nature, harmony and stuff.

When toxic chemicals got into food, when the air quality in Chinese big cities became worse, or when the lead paint got into toys ("made in China", but "designed in America"), it was my folks in China who suffered first and for most. I told my self: "well, if these nice folks in the West want to watch out for my folks back in the East with their inquisitive media, that is fine with me. We are moderate…."

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