Global Trends by Martin Khor
Monday 11 August 2008
Olympic Games has had a spectacular launch. The thrills and spills
of the next fortnight are mixed with complex feelings, especially in
the West, about the rise of the host country
For the next fortnight, the Olympic Games will dominate not only the news but also the television and internet attention of hundreds of millions around the world.
“greatest show on earth” was launched in
While this opening and the new magnificent sports buildings, especially the “Bird’s Nest” stadium, won the acclaim of many, not least the reportedly billions of people that watched the show on TV, the whole Olympics being held in China also attracted sharp criticism, notedly from the Western press.
democractic government at
The claim of this paper is that the Chinese people, if only they could freely voice their feelings, are angry about how their money is being wasted on the Olympics.
Yet the paper contradicts itself, by stating upfront that the Olympics is used as propaganda by the government to win political legitimacy – in other words, that this extravagant show makes it popular with the masses.
The reality, as affirmed in many a report, is that the Olympics has been largely welcomed by the people in China, who are filled with pride at another “coming of age” of their country on the world stage.
Whether the vast amount of money and human resources that have gone into the Olympics could have been better spent is of course a legitimate subject of debate – as it always has been when any large Games – be it the Olympics or the World Cup, or the Commonwealth Games or Asian Games – is held, especially in a developing country, where there are competing uses of resources, such as building homes and schools for the poor.
This is usually dressed in the garb of caring for the human rights of the poor Chinese people, who are often portrayed as being victimized for the country’s development and the supposed personal glory of the political leaders.
But it is hard to deny the other view, that the development in the past almost 60 years of that highest-populated country has eradicated more poverty that elsewhere. And whatever we think of the social unevenness and the environmental degradation accompanying the prolific economic growth of the past 10 to 20 years, it has also contributed to realizing the economic and social rights of many hundreds of millions of ordinary Chinese.
that in itself, transforming the image and reality of
more of course can be done to promote civic and political rights and
freedoms, to cater to the legitimate interests and rights of minorities,
to resolve the problems in
is also true that
countries have recently viewed
that the balance of world power is shifting to Asia, especially to
growing dependence of the US on China, its large trade deficit, and
the shifting of US companies’ operations to China, makes this country
a source of fear, especially of American workers losing their jobs.
This is firstly the reason for firstly the growing protectionist sentiments
The envy and fear comes up most obviously during high-profile events like the Olympics. We can expect to see more of these complex feelings, mixed up with the thrills and spills of the sporting events, throughout the rest of these Beijing Olympic Games.