The Olympic Games and the Westernization of China
By Jin Zhong
The Beijing Olympic Games – a one-hundred-year dream of China – are about to commence. The entire nation is indulging in the glory of holding the Games. What is the meaning of the Olympic Games to China? A fight for the country’s honor in sport? Friendship and peace? Righteous and selfless aggressiveness? Or a moment to show off China’s national strength? The answer is yes to all. Yet, the greatest significance to modern China of the 29th Summer Olympic Games held in Beijing is to display the westernization of China, which has opened its door to the western world since the mid-19th century.
The Olympic Games and contemporary international sport are part of the western culture and lifestyle. More than two thousand years passed between the birth of the ancient Olympics in the 8th century B.C. and the modern Olympics that was revived in the 19th century. China did not become a participant until 1932. When it comes to Olympics sports, none of the 28 major events comprising the Beijing Games is a traditional Chinese sport. There is judo from Japan and taekwondo from Korea, but Chinese martial arts are not included. This is probably due to the chronic feudalism and Confucian morality of China, which have severely suppressed the freedom and development of humanity, resulting in the lack of a national concept of physical education. It should not be seen as prejudice to call Chinese people the “sick men of East Asia,” when Chinese men were still braiding their hair and women binding their feet in the twentieth century.
The Westernization Movement in the late Qing was all about “Chinese learning for substance, Western learning for practical application,” with nothing about the all-round development of the people. With the Communist Party ruling for nearly six decades, the development of sports is still just a continuation of the movement. China has adopted an open-door policy in the past 30 years to strengthen its connection with the world, and this has been an undeniable success. However, with its strong and clear political implications, China’s sports development is no different from the pragmatism of its open economic policy. China’s pursuit of sports is not about the spirit of the Olympic Games – “participation” – but victory and glory. China trains up its athletes through totalitarian approaches, and in the international arena suppresses Taiwan from joining international sports events. Now that the Beijing Olympics have arrived, China as host still does its utmost to achieve its will, exposing its arrogance and insolence.
The CPC authorities will never understand the reason for the strong wave of anti-Beijing Olympics protests all around the world. Blame is always put on “anti-China” elements such as advocates of Tibetan and Xinjiang independence. In fact, a profound cultural conflict lies beneath these protests. China leverages the noble Olympic Games as a tool to promote its narrow-minded nationalism and to reinforce the dictatorship of its party. What it promised, such as press freedom and respect for human rights, will ultimately not be realized, just as the Germans betrayed the trust of Western countries during the Nazi era. It is this violation of the spirit of the Games that has led a wave of people to rise up against China and call for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.
Many politicians and celebrities will go to Beijing for the Games. It is very likely that China will enjoy a tremendous victory, just as the Germans did with the Berlin Olympics. There is no doubt but that the Games have become the best possible promotional platform for the CPC. Still, the complete westernization and modernization of China is an irresistible trend (as demonstrated by the number of foreign athletic coaches, the major venues designed by foreign designers, and even the employment of foreign security guards). In line with the westernization process designed by Deng Xiaoping, China makes use of western capital, technology and market economy to maintain its political system; the multi-party system and balance of powers remain prohibited. All of this, sooner or later, will be demolished, but we hope the process will be achieved through peace rather than in violence, or even be led by the ruling party. Westernization is the only way for China to be free and to nurture both the physical and metal health of its people. If the Beijing Olympics is able to promote wider acknowledgment of the complete westernization of China, we are more than happy to wish the Beijing Olympic Games every success.
Translated by Isabella Lam