Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Clamor for gold medals still loud and clear [Global Times]

As the Olympic Games draw to a rousing finish, Chinese state media opines to the Chinese public: Keep focused on the big picture, and, not ‘care too much about a few grudge Internet posts’ against the Chinese excessive worship of gold medals.

On its description of ‘a few‘ it is worth noting that more than 84% of China’s 550 million internet users are ‘creators’, active posters on social networking sites at least once a month. Conversely, just a quarter of  American and European social media users are classified as ‘creators’. Most are ‘spectators’ – passive users who read other posts but do not post their own, at 76% and 69% respectively (Source – Social Skinny).

That sure is an interesting take on the democratision potential of the Internet and its impact on seeding new dimensions of individuality on the collectivism of the Chinese.

So in context, while China’s internet users may only make up a little more than a third of the population in its current state of 50% urbanisation, more than 400 million of them are actively joining in conversations in a public sphere 2.0 on a scale the world has not seen yet. That number itself  is larger than the population of most countries.

Increasingly, what is undoubtedly clear – is that China has surely way gone past its singular homogenous voice of old.

– – –

Clamor for gold medals still loud and clear
Source – Global Times, published August 8, 2012

Do Olympic gold medals have a stigma attached to them? Does the Chinese public no longer cherish hard-won Olympic medals? The answers are no. And even as domestic media is abuzz with criticism of the “national sports system,” few believe it should be scrapped immediately.

It is true that this Olympic Games has been viewed from a variety of perspectives by domestic audiences. Some hold that the funds invested in athletes’ training and preparation should be used for public welfare. Some worry that China’s dominance over several events may reduce the popularity of the sports. When Chinese badminton duo players Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli were disqualified, opinions toward the IOC’s decision were polarized.

There is indeed opposition against excessive worship of gold medals. But such voices don’t dominate public opinion. Just look at the public’s reaction to Sun Yang’s two gold medals in swimming, which caused a sensation. After swimmer Ye Shiwen was questioned over her speed, there was a strong backlash against the unfounded allegations. For Chinese media, the existence of both views is natural. The Internet, especially Weibo, has amplified a few extreme voices. The media, faced with cut-throat competition, may highlight sensational viewpoints or stress conflict to grab attention. But among TV audiences, few are against seeing Chinese athletes winning gold medals. The negative comments about Olympic gold medals don’t stand for the majority, nor do they suggest a drop in Chinese patriotism.

The London Olympic Games has resulted in new happiness and confidence for Chinese society. Four years ago, the Chinese delegation topped the gold medal tally on home soil. This time, Chinese athletes continue to win glory overseas. The Chinese public is surer about the country’s capabilities. No matter what the critics say, sporting achievements attest to the country’s progress.

Patriotism cannot be denied. It is not denied in any country. It is one of the core values of China, helping sustain its civilization for thousands of years. Patriotic feeling is strong and authoritative. A few try to win attention by condemning patriotism. As long as China has an open public opinion platform, such voices are bound to exist.

Liberal tendencies are strong in China’s public opinion sphere. Extreme voices often cross the bottom line. We can just check people around us. Are there many people who would like to see Sun Yang or Liu Xiang lose? Are they in the majority? The answer is clear. We don’t have to care too much about a few grudge Internet posts.


Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Collectivism, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, global times, Government & Policy, Influence, Internet, Mapping Feelings, Nationalism, Olympics, Public Diplomacy, Social, Sport, The Chinese Identity, , , ,

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