Friday, September 5, 2008

Final Olympics thoughts

The Olympics are back in my thoughts. Is it just me or are there more volunteers on the streets, with booths and kiosks reopened on more corners around the city? I'm not seeing the glut of tourists, but I do get the sense -- especially cruising past Tiananmen Square, where the Paralympics tablet has been erected front and center -- that yet another global assembly is about to convene. And my spirits have been slightly uplifted.

Because this was never done formally, here are some post-Olympics linked I found enjoyable:

  • The Beijinger lists the things it liked.

  • Christian-Science Monitor, whose China coverage impresses me, with two articles worth reading: "Under blue skies, Beijing dazzled as Olympic host" (the "under blue skies" part, I think, may be CSM's subtle mea culpa at its own excess of pre-Olympics air-might-kill-us stories), and "A reporter's journey through the Olympics." ("Manpower, you see, is not a problem for China. But that can’t explain the cheeriness – the overwhelming impression that they are, in fact, overjoyed to serve you lamb skewers at an hour better suited for viewings of the 'Rocky Horror Picture Show.'")

  • Time: Where China Goes Next

  • Thomas Friedman, NY Times: "Yes, if you drive an hour out of Beijing, you meet the vast dirt-poor third world of China. But here’s what’s new: The rich parts of China, the modern parts of Beijing or Shanghai or Dalian, are now more state of the art than rich America. The buildings are architecturally more interesting, the wireless networks more sophisticated, the roads and trains more efficient and nicer. And, I repeat, they did not get all this by discovering oil. They got it by digging inside themselves."

  • Peter Berlin, on NY Times' informative Rings Olympics blog.

  • Tony Blair, Wall Street Journal (yes, that Tony Blair): "Power and influence is shifting to the East. In time will come India, too. Some see all this as a threat. I see it as an enormous opportunity. But we have to exercise a lot of imagination and eliminate any vestiges of historic arrogance.... No sensible Chinese person -- including the country's leadership -- doubts there remain issues of human rights and political and religious freedom to be resolved. But neither do the sensible people -- including the most Western-orientated Chinese -- doubt the huge change, for the better, there has been."

  • Sports Illustrated let its writers sum up their feelings, and we had the good (Richard Demak), the really good (Alexander Wolff), the well-said (S.L. Price) and the... you really thought that, David Epstein?

  • This quote from IHT: "In fact, Brazilian Ping-Pong is not weak," the coach, Wei Jianren, a former player in China who moved to Brazil 19 years ago, said in an interview with Xinhua. "Brazilian Ping-Pong is not among the top ones in the world, but it's in the leading position in the Latin America region." (In response to this quote: "We play soccer," said Chinese midfielder Li Weifeng, "like the Brazilians play ping-pong.")

  • This, whether you agree with it or not, is what we can call diplomatically scathing: "'We hope the U.S. side would educate its citizens to obey the laws of other countries, so as to avoid the recurrence of such incidents.' he said. He suggested the White House spokesman look up remarks by former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in his inaugural address on preserving unification of the nation. 'Then he can understand the determination and efforts of the Chinese people in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity and stop applying double standards on this issue,' said Qin."

  • And finally, last but certainly not least, from one of my favorite China correspondents (this from reading, alas, still too few of his articles), Evan Osnos of the Chicago Tribune: "One thing is clear: you cannot protest legally in China."

To leave off, here's a song we'll all miss, along with an incredible -- and I do mean incredible -- English script by the folks over at Fool's Mountain:

No comments: