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Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympics Games show China's strength, mask fragility

Sputnik Moment. Lovely analogy. Here's an article attempting to unravel the facade behind the games. From Reuters.

Olympics Games show China's strength, mask fragility
Wed, Aug 06, 2008
Source (Date of Access 10 August 2008)

BEIJING - 'Faster, higher, stronger' is the message from China that will resonate at the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday and during its battle with the United States for global sporting supremacy.

The Games are about much more than sport, of course.

For one analyst, the picture of China's Communist Party basking in national triumph amid glittering stadiums could be a 'Sputnik moment' - akin to the emerging Soviet Union's stunning launch of a satellite in 1957 - one that, for many in the West, will inspire as much fear as admiration.

And yet that picture glosses over the fragility of a nation beset by pollution, energy strains, social unrest and rural poverty, all of which were laid bare in the run up to the Games.
These have become party-spoiling leitmotifs of the Beijing Games story, along with condemnation of China's human rights record, anger over its restrictions on media and Western doubts about its will to reform and act as a responsible global power.

'Whatever the longer-term implications of the 2008 Olympics, what has transpired thus far bears little resemblance to Beijing's dreams of Olympic glory', US-based Council on Foreign Relations senior fellows Ms Elizabeth C. Economy and Mr Adam Segal wrote in a recent paper, 'China's Olympic Nightmare'.

'Rather than basking in the admiration of the world, China is beset by internal protests and international condemnation'.

Sick man no more
China's rapidly expanding economy has become a crucial locomotive as recession looms around the globe. It is no longer the 'sick man of Asia', and Beijing's Olympics will be an in-your-face confirmation.

'For China, this is the crystalisation of three decades of modernisation, a big show and tell, their big moment in the sun', said Prof Victor Cha, head of Asian studies at Georgetown University in Washington, and a former White House adviser on Asia.

For all the dividends of China's burgeoning trade and investment links with the outside world, however, a 'rising China' is seen by much of the West as a threat...

For the full article, go here.