Posts tagged: Beijing Olympics

Just For Fun: China Eyeing Gold in……Curling!

By , February 11, 2010

Curling – a.k.a. shuffle board on ice – is a sport long dominated by Canadians.  But in next week’s Olympic Games, curlingCanada might cede its Olympic dominance to….China?  Yes, to China.  In fact, some would argue it already has – in women’s curling, China currently holds the world title.  So it will be interesting to see China attempt to topple Canada while in Vancouver.  On top of that, China’s curling coach, Dan Rafael, hails from Canada.  Expect the Canadians to fight back with a vengeance.

The Chinese government puts a lot of stock in its athletes’ performances at the Olympics.  During Beijing’s 2008 summer games, China won a total of 51 medals, with the U.S. in second place with less than 35.  China will come nowhere near such numbers in the winter games, but it expects to take home more than the 11 medals it did after the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.  In addition to potentially winning gold in curling, China is expected to medal in freestyle skiing, snowboarding halfpipe, speed skating and pairs figure skating.

In the past 10 years, China has  put a lot of capital – both financial and human – into its Olympic training programs.  Chinese athletes are able to excel because all they do is practice; Olympic training is 100% subsidized by the government with the athletes receiving salaries from the state.  Athletes are chosen at a young age and come of age in the countries sporting training centers.  Usually, their education takes a back seat to their training.

Why?  Why should a country that still has a large number of people living in poverty, put so much money into Olympic sports?  It’s a way for China to prove that it has “made it.”  China’s rise does not come without baggage.  After ruling Asia, if not the world, for much of its 2,000 year history, starting in 1800, China was brought to its knees by the Western powers, first with the British after the Opium Wars and then other foreign powers when China was divided in various spheres of influences.  China has not forgotten this history and often brings it up – Chinese news reports about its Olympics exploits will mention that China is no longer the “sick man of Asia.”  The Chinese government also uses this history to increasing nationalist pride among its people.  It’s this nationalism that helps the Chinese Communist Party stay in power.

80 KORNELIA ENDER GDR MONTREALWhile some may be unsettled by China’s Olympic ambitions, others say, bring it on.  Really, the Olympics has not been nearly as interesting in our post-Cold War world.  Who can forget the sight of huge East German female swimmers?  Or judges from Soviet-bloc nations voting against Western athletes?  And the U.S. vs. U.S.S.R. hockey game?  It was a time when people actually watched the Olympics and when medals won was more than a victory in a sport, it was a triumph of an ideology.  Without the drama, intrigue and flaming of nationalist passions, what’s the point?  Maybe now NBC will be able to turn a profit on its Olympic coverage.

Just for Fun: A Review of the National Day Celebrations – Fashion & More!

By , October 1, 2009

China does very few public celebrations haphazardly and yesterday’s National Day Parade, marking the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, was no exception. With months of pain-staking practice, teaching participants to march in perfect formation and training them to change formations at the drop of a hat to create intricate symbols and slogans, the 2009 National Day spectacle will be the military parade by which all future military parades are judged.

Women Soldiers in Hot Pink, October 1, 2009

Women Soldiers in Hot Pink, October 1, 2009

But if you were looking for the subtle artistry of the Beijing Olympics’ Opening Ceremony, forget about it.  This parade was about military might and lots of it.  As if out of a hip-hop video, President Hu Jintao rolled his bad-self onto the scene in a black limousine, standing up through the sunroof and pugnaciously shouting at each of the military branches as his car drove by.  Even the women of the parade were flexing their military muscles.  Don’t let those hot pink skirt suits fool you; with guns drawn, these ladies were ready to play with the boys.  The Rockettes should be afraid, very afraid.

Most interesting though was what President Hu Jintao was wearing or in the alternative, what no other Chinese leader was wearing: a Mao suit.  Did President Hu not get the memo to wear a boring black western suit with some version of an equally uninspiring maroon tie?  Or was he just throwing all caution to the wind, blazing his own path?  In 2005, the fashion world decreed that the Mao suit’s peak was reached; that it was going the way of the fedora, in other words, to the scrapheap of fashion.  But recently the fedora has made a comeback among the hipsters in places like Williamsburg and Wicker Park.  Does President Hu sense an emerging trend amongst the hipsters that even the editors of

Former President of China or Leader of the Hipsters?

Former President of China or Leader of the Hipsters?

Vogue and GQ are missing?  Former Chinese president Jiang Zemen rocked the old lady-style glasses during his tenure and since then, such glasses are ubiquitous among the hipster set.  Will President Hu do for the Mao suit what President Jiang did for the old lady-style glasses?  Perhaps. Expect to see Mao suits soon on a hipster near you.

All in all, the Chinese should be very proud of yesterday’s festivities.  The parade was more than just impressive – it was a powerful reminder of how far China has come in the past 60 years.  The only thing we at China Law & Policy thought was missing was Matt Lauer and Al Roker and their endless commentary about every unimportant, but yet fascinating detail of the parade.  Perhaps for the 70th anniversary.  And yes, Matt Lauer and Al Roker would definitely wear Mao suits for the event.

Matt Lauer and Al Roker of the Today Show dressed in Rhythmic Gymnastics outfits for the Beijing Olympics

Matt Lauer and Al Roker of the Today Show dressed in Rhythmic Gymnastics outfits for the Beijing Olympics

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