> Opinion
World media showers praise on China, Games
(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-08-13 08:24

Stronger, faster, and better

The Guardian in the UK published the story entitled "stronger, faster and better-a people's pride in its power", saying tens of thousands of Chinese are proud to share in a celebration of their country.

The story interviewed several people from different walks of lives and ages, who all are hoping to enjoy their country's emergence as a great power.

It said many people wear "I love China" T-shirts, red national flags, face stickers and bandanas with the slogan that has become the chant of 2008: Zhongguo Jiayou (Go China!), which was also heard in rallies supporting the torch relay in April and after the national mourning ceremonies for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake.

But this time, the paper quoted the interviewers as saying the slogan had more meaning as "it means get stronger, get faster, get better!"

The paper said when asked what they are celebrating, the main answer is "a better life and the chance to show the world how much China has changed".

Three decades since the country adopted its policy of reform, the general public can now enjoy a lifestyle that was unimaginable for past generations, the paper added.

China wins gold

The National Post in Canada said China deserves Olympic gold as no nation in the history of the world has accomplished so much for so many in so little time.

The paper said as China is hosting the Olympic Games right now, the country will expose itself to more scrutiny and criticism than ever before. But, the paper noted that "it is important to consider the context of criticisms in the light of what the Chinese have been able to accomplish through hard work, smarts and much luck".

"China has lifted living standards by harnessing and offering to the world the services of its huge, cheap labor pool and talent. It has not attempted to become rich by conquest or by terrorism. The Chinese are not pulling ripcords and aiming to destroy civilization and their goal is indoor plumbing for all, clean drinking water, decent housing, middle class trappings and a better future for their children," according to the newspaper.

It said China is proud and should be and the ongoing Olympic Games will be its time to show off its technology, abilities and material progress.

At the end of the story, the writer wished China continues to earn gold medals for its economic growth and so should everyone else in the world.

Positive changes

The Chicago Tribune in the US urged readers to see modern China in a clear and complete way.

The paper said with the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, outsiders are putting modern China under a microscope and finding much that is ugly and that perception is accurate but not complete.

It said "a full appreciation requires taking in the panorama of Chinese life and history, which may be hard to do in the preoccupation with the host country's flaws."

The paper noted that it would be a shame to focus on its sins to the exclusion of everything. It said since the late 1970s, China has been transformed greatly. Its economy has expanded tenfold and no country in history has ever lifted so many people out of poverty so rapidly.

People can work and live where they choose. They can travel and study abroad. They have access to the Internet. There is a growing sense among the Chinese that they are entitled to certain basic human rights - a startling development in the country.

The paper quoted Robert Ross, a scholar on China issues at Harvard and Boston College, as saying he believes China will continue to progress in human rights.

The story summarized that if the last 30 years have taught us anything, it is not to underestimate China's capacity for positive change.

Blaze of glory

When Li Ning, a six-time Olympic medalist, soared through midair to light the Olympic cauldron, the world bore witness to the unmistakable fact that China was back - in a blaze of glory, said the Time magazine.

The story said for a nation that won its first Olympic gold medal in 1984, China's athletic ascent, like its economic growth, could only be described with superlatives.

It estimated that for this time around, China could well occupy the top spot in the medal tally. During the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the country was just three gold medals behind by the United States.

The story noted that the modern Olympics is about more than East and West, North and South - or, indeed, medal tables. The movement now boasts more members than the United Nations.

According to the article, at the opening ceremony, more than 10,500 athletes marched together, representing 204 countries and regions and even China's historical rival Japan received polite applause. Four athletes from Iraq, which in July had been banned briefly from the Games because of a tiff with the International Olympic Committee, got one of the night's biggest cheers, after the hosts.

All the facts had showed, the story said, that the Olympics may be composed of nations, but its spirit transcends nationalism.

EU gropes for coherent line

As the Beijing Olympic Games highlights China's emergence as a world power, the European Union is struggling to take a coherent approach to the Asian giant, Reuters reports.

"The EU views China still largely through the trade prism," said a EU official involved in foreign policy. "We call them a strategic partner, but we mostly talk to them about bras and shoes and the exchange rate of the renminbi (currency)."

How to respond to the rise of the Asian export powerhouse has pitted pro-free trade countries such as the Nordic states and Britain against those such as Italy and France who say "China breaks trade rules in ways that cost European jobs".

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has done his best to resist protectionist pressure, arguing that China's export boom has not reduced European prosperity - far from it.

Mandelson, the unofficial relationship manager with Beijing and a frequent visitor to China, is a vocal member of the "economic opportunity" school of thought.

"What should worry us is not the success of the developing world, but its potential failure," Mandelson said in a speech in New York in June. "A stalling or a crash of growth in China would be a disaster, not just for China but for us too."

Other EU officials look at China mainly through the lens of their own portfolios or concerns.

However, some African leaders say China is a less intrusive partner than the EU and delivers what it promises.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, current holder of the EU presidency, came under fire in the European Parliament last month for his decision to go to the Olympics. He retorted: "I don't think you can boycott a quarter of humanity."

Efforts to build a strategic relationship with China hit a roadblock in 2005 when the EU, bowing to US pressure, dropped plans to lift an arms embargo.

Andrew Small of the German Marshall Fund think-tank said this sent China the message that the EU would always defer to Washington in the end. Expert recipes for a strategic EU-China relationship abound.

Etienne Reuter, a former EU ambassador and adviser on Asia policy, says the EU should use its "soft power" to broaden the relationship with China, expanding cooperation in development, health, education, science and climate change.

Charles Grant and Katinka Barysch of London's Center for European Reform say the EU and China should help shape a new multi-polar world order by focusing on the key priorities of climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and Africa.

But with no current means to reconcile conflicting EU priorities, such a strategically defined policy seems unlikely any time soon.

(China Daily 08/13/2008 page11)