Seeing Phelps and other Olympians defend Ye Shiwen against wild accusations by Leonard has given the Chinese hope that China and the West can see eye to eye on issues. While Leonard’s accusations were problematic, the true culprit in this whole affair are in fact the British and American media, for they were the ones to glorify and propagate that seemingly racist charge. For every single gold medal winner, there will bound to be sour grapes. If the media collectively cherry-picks only certain sour grapes targeting athletes of certain nationality, that is willful defamation. The British and American media in fact voiced no perspective defending Ye Shiwen, but instead gave credence to Leonard. Chinese on Weibo responded with anger. Chinese media have brought this ridiculous behavior on the Western media’s part to light. Now that this whole affair has back-fired, I’d like to share with our readers how the British paper, The Guardian, unrepentant, still tries to be on the offensive.
The Guardian reporters Tania Branigan and Peter Walker writes:
This, in microcosm, is the dilemma faced by China in the era of its Olympic success, fuelled by a vast and focused national production line of sporting talent, which in turn is a reflection of its increasing world status. Tuesday’s dramatic fall by 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang, who crashed out of the 110m hurdles in his first race, was a relatively rare loss by a Chinese medal hope.
For some Chinese fans and pundits the pleasure of another bumper crop of medals – 33 golds, 20 silvers and 14 bronzes at the time of writing – has been tempered by what they believe is foreign resentment and jealousy. They see this manifesting itself in speculative claims that the times posted by the teenage swimmer Ye Shiwen must have been achieved through illicit means, in the disqualification of the Chinese women’s doubles badminton top seeds for throwing a group match, even in the demotion of the victorious women’s track sprint team to silver for an illegal changeover, despite a similar fate befalling the British duo earlier in the contest.
What dilemma? The fact that China has a strong state sponsored Olympics program? British readers not critical will accept Branigan and Walker’s narrative that state sponsorship is illegitimate.
Should China’s state sponsorship of her Olympics be described as a “national production line?” I guess so, but that is just a pretty mean narrative. How are the poor Chinese supposed to afford swimming pools and coaches? The reason we don’t see African swimmers in the Olympics is because the continent is dirt poor. Britain has a “national production line” too if we want to be mean about it. They are the “soccer mom” production line. British society has the luxury to pay for private lessons and organize little leagues all the way up to major leagues to groom her athletes. China is trending that way too with gradual economic progress.
Fault the Chinese for being poor if you want. Fault the Chinese for wanting Olympic medals, but at the same time criticize the British for wanting medals too. Everyone wants to win. After-all, hooligans in Europe have killed one another over a single soccer match haven’t they? (For more, see my prior article on the politics of the Olympics.)
Branigan and Walker then offers the narrative of Chinese pleasure in “another bumper crop of medals” been “tempered” by the various controversies.
No, no, no! Wrong narrative. Here is Branigan and Walker’s chance to come clean on Ye Shiwen, for their very own paper has been all too happy to pimp up Leonard’s accusations.
And, no, the Ye Shiwen controversy has nothing to do with the overall medal count. See jxie‘s explanation why Leonard’s accusation and British media’s propagation of it is bad: “Ye Shiwen, the 16 year old dreamy girl superstar, and the ugly world.”
Instead, Branigan and Walker tries to downplay Chinese criticism. They write:
Particularly with regards to Ye Shiwen, this disquiet has been expressed at the highest levels. Such suspicions, said a commentary this week in the People’s Daily, the official Communist party paper, indicated “double standards that have taken aim at the Chinese team and its athlete”.
For the British, the “Communist party paper” qualifier is an attempt to discredit what’s being quoted from Peopel’s Daily. In fact, the outrage is across the country. That criticism is all over Internet forums and Weibo.
They continued quoting Chinese media:
It added: “This, unfortunately, is hard to explain as inadvertent missteps – it might be closer to the truth to see it as deliberate attacking and interference.”
An editorial in the Global Times, a state-run populist tabloid, was blunter still: “Negative comments about her and Chinese athletes come from deep bias and reluctance from the western press to see Chinese people making breakthroughs. It shows that the unfriendliness of the west to China is spreading.”
Again, Branigan and Walker in dismissing the editorial at the Global Times, first discrediting it as a “state-run populist tabloid” and calling that criticism “blunter still.” In truth, the Western press is unfriendly towards China. Defaming Ye Shiwen is but only one of a very long chain of nonsense hurled at China or the Chinese. See melektaus‘s well researched article, “Collective Defamation,” where he makes clear how the Western press do it.
They went on:
In truth, whatever the wider tensions of global geo-politics you would have to search hard to locate openly anti-Chinese feeling at the London Games. While the support for home athletes is, inevitably, noisy and partisan, with an associated bias towards nations with British ties, such as New Zealand, Australia and the Caribbean islands, claps and cheers tend to otherwise be distributed fairly equally, with perhaps a tendency of bias towards perceived underdogs.
For the most part I agree with what Branigan and Walker said here. Given the outpouring of support from average British citizens for Ye Shiwen, I think it is fair to say they genuinely try to uphold the Olympics spirit. But if one was to pay attention to British citizen comments to articles where the BBC, Guardian, etc propagated Leonard’s accusations, there were plenty, too, spouting racist comments: “Chinese are cheats,” yada yada yada, and a long list of ugliness which Leonard’s accusation engenders.
So, what The Guardian is cleverly doing here is to use the British public to defend itself.
But, don’t forget, the Chinese indignation is at the British press!