Much of the world is currently in the throes of Olympic fever. The pageantry, the athletics, and of course, watching your country in the medal race.
But, you know what? I'm just not that interested.
I'm sure part of this is my anti-China bias. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I've lost interest in the Olympics more generally. The jingoism gets to me for one. And then there's the fact that my youthful dream of being an Olympic swimmer will never come to pass (although the 41-year old athlete with two kids is making me reconsider this).
But I've been far more interested and concerned with the war between Georgia and Russia than I am with Team America, Team China, or Team Korea (which is surprisingly high in the early medal count right now - good for them).
Anyway, I want to call your attention to this article. Tim Wu discusses the non-Chinese media (I refuse to call it Western because, let's be frank, this kind of coverage isn't limited to just the "West") and whether it's being too harsh on China.
Now, I agree with much, if not all, of what he's saying. Just because the Chinese have put in a lot of hard work to prepare for the Olympics doesn't mean it should be immune from criticism, particularly if all that hard work was geared towards cleaning up their treatment of laborers, minorities, or the environment. And as a good friend of mine said, if China wants to be a leader on the world stage, it's got to be able to accept the criticism. Just because you're great doesn't mean you're faultless, and it's perfectly legitimate for people to point out your faults (they do it all the time to the U.S., EU, and Russia. Indians do it to themselves.)
However, I think there's also something to the Chinese complaint. It's difficult to separate legitimate criticism from a wider cultural disdain, but I think some of the reporting falls into that. Of course, there is the gap between Chinese expectations and everyone else's reporting, driven in many ways by the high expectations that the CCP set for both itself and the rest of the world. But, while I may dislike China, I think our criticisms must be tempered with this recognition of all its people have accomplished in the past 30 years (as well as being mindful of all its people destroyed in the 30 years before that).
The criticism is getting tied up with the jingoism, and I draw a line there. It's fine to point out (massive) faults in the system and history, but the arguments are stronger (and sometimes more chilling) if they're grounded in a more rational assessment of the country.