The Christian Science Monitor has an article on the historical links between the Olympics and politics. It’s mostly a repetition of what other articles have said, but there are a few interesting quotes.
Similarities stop there, however, says Susan Brownell, a professor of anthropology at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, currently in Beijing studying Chinese preparations for the Olympics. In the Olympic education campaign that the authorities have been running from primary school level to university, she says, “the Communist party is almost never mentioned, and nor is socialism.”
This is something most Chinese recognize. The government hasn’t made these games about the Communist party; only foreign activists have done that. From our point of view, we are looking to celebrate our country’s remarkable progress over the past 30 years. These Olympics are Beijing’s Olympics, the Chinese people’s Olympics… not the Communist Party’s Olympics.
This is also precisely why there such genuine grassroots anger and frustration from average Chinese that our Olympics have been threatened and abused by overseas activists.
There is another quote from the article that I want to address:
Like the Nazis, the ruling Chinese Communist Party clearly hopes that successful Games will reflect well not just on China as a country, but on its political system itself.
There is no “political system” per se in China today. China has what is officially labeled “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, but no one could possibly define what that means. China hasn’t tried to export its values… frankly, I don’t think we have many political values today. China isn’t funding political parties in other countries, nor is it setting up international academic conferences for studying China’s “political system”.
China is a pragmatic country trying to solve the problems faced by all developing countries, and that is all. As Deng Xiaoping said decades ago, “cross the river by feeling for stones” (摸着石头过河). There are precious few examples of successful developing countries anywhere on this planet, and all of the idealism of the past (faith in capitalism, communism, or any other -ism) hasn’t helped the majority of humanity from living in poverty.