Home > Analysis, media > Ye Shiwen follow-up: media scorecard (BBC & New York Times)

Ye Shiwen follow-up: media scorecard (BBC & New York Times)

First, let me emphasize that I don’t believe or even suspect the 800m freestyle Olympic gold medal winner Kathie Ledecky is doping.  Yes, she came from nowhere (ranked #55 in 2011) and had a huge one-year improvement (4.2%), but these aren’t unheard of for teenagers.  For example, the 2004 200m backstroke gold medal winner, Zimbabwean Kristy Coventry had the similar trajectory (ranked #19 in 2003 and one-year time improvement was also 4.2%).  Compare to Ye who was fairly well known prior to the Games, they truly came from nowhere and had much larger one-year improvement (Ye’s one-year improvement was 1.9%.).

While on the topic of suspicion of doping, I am having a hard time to believe Carmelita Jeter is clean.  Jeter’s personal best of 100 meter dash was at age 26 11.48”, at age 27 11.02”, and she has managed to improve to 10.64” at age 32.

The purpose of this post is examining the coverage of Ye and Ledecky by a couple of major Western media outlets, and scoring them in terms of being fair and balanced.



It aired the viewpoint of John Leonard; it also aired the rebuttals by Ye, her team and her Australian coach.

It reported the WADA test result as it is, and Lord Moynihan’s view.

Its guest commentator Ian Thorpe offered his defense of Ye.

At the end, with all information available so far, it has done a couple of fine pieces of summary reports (report A, report B).  Also the pictures of Ye Shiwen aren’t the unflattering ones, certainly not PS’d.


New York Times – F

What an embarrassment of horrendous journalistic integrity!  I know New York Times has sunk into hell, but I simply can’t imagine it can sink this low.

Like everybody else, it provided a stage for John Leonard’s viewpoint.  It made no mention of the rebuttals, but had no problem of summarizing the reactions by the Chinese media and the public — in its twisted way I might add.  It didn’t report the WADA test result, or Moynihan’s defense, or Ian Thorpe’s defense, or Michael Phelps’ defense of Ye.  It also didn’t report the doping questions being raised on Ledecky because of her improvement being far better than Ye’s.

Finally, check this piece out. Like the great Ludacris asked, how low can you go?

Categories: Analysis, media Tags: ,
  1. Hodges
    August 9th, 2012 at 16:13 | #1

    Kudos to Jixie. Good report.

  2. perspectivehere
    August 9th, 2012 at 17:47 | #2


    Clare Balding, the BBC anchor, was the one who started raising suspicions. She did it on the air immediately after the race was completed. Does anyone have the video?

    According to Daily Mail of 29th July:

    “As Miss Ye Shiwen completed her extraordinary performance, the surprise in Clare Balding’s voice was clear.
    And she immediaely asked former British Olympian Mark Foster, who was acting as a pundit: ‘How many questions will there be, Mark, about somebody who can suddenly swim so much faster than she has ever swum before?’

    Miss Balding’s question provoked a storm among BBC viewers on Twitter, with many praising her for daring to even hint at the possibility of cheating, but many criticising her for tainting the Chinese swimmer’s achievement and some even calling for her sacking.”

    There is a photo of her and underneath reads a caption, “Surprised: Clare Balding has provoked allegations that she suggested the swimmer was cheating”

    I think she played the pivotal role in creating this controversy. This should be weighed in your results.

  3. pug_ster
    August 9th, 2012 at 18:43 | #3

    I don’t even watch the Olympics on NBC because of the BS commentary coming out from them. Rather, I watch them the Chinese channels on the TVpad.

    Edit: just noticed that NY Times asking the question doping should be legalized… NY Times is turning to the propaganda that it is.

  4. August 9th, 2012 at 18:50 | #4


    You are right that her immediate reaction likely was pivotal in creating the whole controversy. With that in mind, I’d still rate them A for a few reasons.

    1. 君子之过也,如日月之食焉:过也,人皆见之;更也,人皆仰之。– loose translation: Junzi’s mistakes, are like solar and lunar eclipses. When they occur, everybody can see them; when they are corrected, everybody reveres. People are allowed to make mistakes. In my opinion, BBC has made the necessary amends.

    2. Would you rather they talk about it up front and have an honest dialogue, or behind your back? Most casual observers have not seen an Asian dominating a swimming race by that much. Granted for anybody who has really paid attention, the likes of Kitajima, and Sun Yang had foretold the arrival of Ye Shiwen. I have my theory of the sudden improvements of not just the Chinese swimming program but also the Japanese one.

    3. Where do you see China and Chinese as a whole decades from now? Given the higher baseline IQ of Chinese (how racist of me) with rapidly improving public education, and the culture that fosters inner peace and harmony, I see us as the force that will lead the humanity to the next phase. With that in mind, methinks we need to be the “bigger man”.

  5. Charles Liu
    August 10th, 2012 at 10:55 | #5

    Even weeks after IOC anti-doping test cleared Ye Shiwen, there’re still media report implicating her with doping. These are the most recent media narrative:

    Linking Ye Shiwen with Michelle Smith: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/unfair-play/482912/

    “China’s Ye Shiwen brought back “awful memories” when she swam the 400m in world-record time. For the same event in 1996, Atlanta Olympics Michelle Smith, now Michelle de Bruin, was banned for tampering with a urine sample.”

    Still repeating the BS Ye’s last lap was faster than the men’s winner who eased up the last lap: http://www.torontosun.com/2012/08/10/olympic-controversies

    “Ye Shiwen in the women’s 400m individual medley — in which she set a new world record — has caused controversy because in the final leg she swam faster than the men.”

    The facts are unequivocal at this point, however the negative media narrative persists.

  6. August 10th, 2012 at 11:07 | #6

    Since there is no evidence of doping among Chinese atheletes. The propaganda has shifted to attacking the system insinuating inhumane treatment and outright abuse.

    “You wonder why the Chinese women are so successful? Most of the men are coaches. The women are literally beaten into submission,” Johannah Doecke, diving coach at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in the United States, told Reuters.


  7. Ricky
    August 10th, 2012 at 11:52 | #7


    I think an underlying factor in all this is race.

    In the late 19th and early 20th century there was the ‘color bar’ in boxing. White champion boxers didn’t defend their titles against black challengers. The white audiences didn’t want to see a white boxer get beaten by a black boxer.

  8. perspectivehere
    August 10th, 2012 at 19:51 | #8

    jxie :
    3. Where do you see China and Chinese as a whole decades from now? Given the higher baseline IQ of Chinese (how racist of me) with rapidly improving public education, and the culture that fosters inner peace and harmony, I see us as the force that will lead the humanity to the next phase. With that in mind, methinks we need to be the “bigger man”.

    Sorry jxie, I think this is wrong on several levels. First, IQ is a flawed concept. And the notion that Asians may have higher IQ scores somehow (a) indicates general Asian superiority or (b) predicts future success as a people is basing this view on entirely wrong assumptions.

    See this essay: “CRITICAL THINKING: IQ, genetics, and racism – PHIL GASPER discusses how the myths about biology and intelligence refuse to disappear”

    “Perhaps most shockingly, in November [2008] William Saletan, a science writer for the liberal Slate.com Web site, published a series of articles in which he argued that Watson’s original comments were correct. According to Saletan:

    Tests do show an IQ deficit, not just for Africans relative to Europeans,
    but for Europeans relative to Asians. Economic and cultural theories
    have failed to explain most of the pattern, and there’s strong preliminary
    evidence that part of it is genetic. It’s time to prepare for the possibility
    that equality of intelligence, in the sense of racial averages on tests,
    will turn out not to be true.

    Saletan couched his argument in the context of much liberal hand-wringing about the possibility of maintaining a commitment to political equality in the face of biological inequality, ignoring the fact that the view he was defending shifts the blame for very real social and economic inequalities away from racist policies and practices. Within a few days, however, Saletan issued a semi-apology, admitting that he had based his argument partly on the work of the Canadian psychologist J. Philippe Rushton, a notorious white supremacist who has long defended the idea of biological differences in intelligence between racial groups. Rushton is president of the Pioneer Fund, the main funder of scientific racism in North America, which was originally founded by Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s and is still classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. Slate.com was embarrassed enough to publish a critique of Saletan by another of its regular writers.

    Defenders of the view that some racial groups are genetically more intelligent than others typically base their claims on the fact that some groups score better than others on IQ tests and on the assumption that IQ measures some inherent characteristic of the human mind. But anyone aware of the history of intelligence testing knows how dubious this assumption is.”

    The rest of the essay goes through the myths about IQ testing and relationship to intelligence.

    I think the idea that Chinese people will advance because we should base Chinese “superiority” on a testing system that was historically created as a means to institutionalize white supremacy is a ludicrous one. In the Open Forum I posted a comment #42 describing the anglo-white supremacist roots of “literacy tests” in excluding undesirables from citizenship and power structures. Literacy tests started appearing in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, in USA, South Africa and Australia as the “religion of whiteness” started to spread in the English-speaking world.

    What you’re suggesting is that by doing well on these tests (literacy, IQ) Chinese will “prove” that they are superior and will be rightfully placed above whites. Uh-uh.

    The tests were created as a “neutral” and “scientific” institutionalized system to justify white dominance.

    If they do not accomplish their objective of maintaining white dominance, they will simply change the system.
    For example, it has been shown that Asians need to score higher in standardized tests to get admitted to the top US colleges than other students.

    I think these systems are fairer than other systems, and a testing system to allocate educational and other opportunities means that East Asians will have an advantage because they come from cultures that have relied on test-taking for centuries for advancement, so there is a huge reservoir of cultural capital.

    (In fact, test-taking is something the British learned from the diplomatic visits to China in the 18th century and brought back to Britain to put in place a system of civil-service examinations.)

    But to say that because Chinese may do better in IQ tests means that somehow this translates into global success and leadership as a people or country — this is completely unrealistic.

    In socieity, we see that the most successful people as individuals are not necessarily those who do well on IQ tests.

    What is most important is how well people work together, management systems, technology and uses of capital. These require a functional political system that allocates opportunities and coordinates actors within it. IQ is not a useful notion at all, and discussion of it in the terms you’ve laid out above is actually offensive to many people – and rightfully so.

    Sorry for making point so strongly – nothing against you personally, but I think the idea is wrong-headed, so I lay it all out in the open. Please let me know if I’ve offended or if you think I’m wrong.

  9. August 10th, 2012 at 23:50 | #9

    I’m not as positive about the BBC as you apear to be. I would have given them a much lower grade because they should have never published those baseless allegations in the first place. This is a trick the media sometimes use. Spread defemation and false information then make a quick response when the evidence tells a different story. The damage by then has already been done. All is forgotten except for the enmity and misinformation caused.

  10. Ricky
    August 11th, 2012 at 01:11 | #10


    I’d just like to add that the belief in the superiority of one ethnic group was core to the ideologies of, among others, the British Empire and the Empire of Japan. On an international scale, these belief systems have always been are about legitimizing rule and justifying expansionism. They are extremely seductive because they basically tell the group in question, ‘you are destined to rule’.

    On the subject of IQ test, social workers in some American states used to have the authority to order the sterilization of people with a significantly low IQ.

  11. perspectivehere
    August 11th, 2012 at 01:35 | #11


    Thanks for the comment Ricky, I agree.

  12. perspectivehere
    August 11th, 2012 at 01:44 | #12

    melektaus :
    I’m not as positive about the BBC as you apear to be. I would have given them a much lower grade because they should have never published those baseless allegations in the first place. This is a trick the media sometimes use. Spread defemation and false information then make a quick response when the evidence tells a different story. The damage by then has already been done. All is forgotten except for the enmity and misinformation caused.

    I think that’s right. The BBC uses very subtle propaganda techniques, as this comment by Sam Kula, Theatres of War: Propaganda 1918-1945, shows:

    “Lord Reith, the architect of the British Broadcasting Corporation and Minister for Information during the war, fully appreciated that successful propaganda utilized a “strategy of truth”: “facts, if not the facts, truth, if not the whole truth.” In his words, “news is the shock-troops of propaganda” and the BBC under his direction developed an enviable reputation in the free world and in the occupied territories as a credible source for “news.” By careful selection (bracketing well-established truths with half-truths) the BBC and British film documentaries achieved a “propaganda of fact” that dominated public opinion in the wake of the Allied invasion of Europe.”

    The BBC’s propaganda style is most effective because it strives to appear impartial, and by mixing in half-truths where people don’t expect or realize it.

    I read the BBC, and deciphering the spin being put on it (and where the half-truths are being hidden) is half the fun.

  13. August 11th, 2012 at 07:35 | #13

    Believing in eugenics can be very dangerous. It lead to the decimation of the aborigin in Americas and Australia. Forced sterilization has also happened in the US.


  14. tc
    August 11th, 2012 at 07:58 | #14

    Based on my observation, BBC, when reporting on Chinese matters, is the most vicious, most insidious propagandist. It’s the worst of the worst.

  15. Ricky
    August 11th, 2012 at 08:28 | #15


    During the Second World War the British government used the BBC and the media in general as part of its propaganda machine. They could do this because at that time they maintained strict control of the media. This enabled the government to alter or completely stop the flow of information on both international and domestic issues. For example, prior to the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936, his relationship with Wallis Simpson was well known in America, but the government/monarchy in Britain kept it out of the press there and so most of the British people knew nothing about it.
    Modern technology and consumer habits have had a massive impact on the flow of information. Whereas people used to read newspapers or watch/listen to the news, young people today get their news from cell phones. Among other factors, the internet and social networking have had a key role in eroding the ability of governments around the world to exert control over the flow of information. It looks like this trend will only continue.
    In the Britain of 1918-45, and probably for a long time after, if a foreign athlete had been subject to biased reporting from the press, you would have thought that nearly all of the British people would have supported that position. Last week, when there was reporting in the British press which was biased against Ye, one of the newspapers there carried out a survey. They found that the majority of respondents believed that she deserved an apology.

  16. August 11th, 2012 at 14:56 | #16


    Sorry for making point so strongly – nothing against you personally, but I think the idea is wrong-headed, so I lay it all out in the open. Please let me know if I’ve offended or if you think I’m wrong.

    Where is CP when you need him? J/k.

    Well, this will go very much OT, so I will just make some rather basic points. If you want to debate this further, I urge you to make a separate post, and I shall comment on it. FWIW, I felt exactly the same way as you do now a decade ago, and have gradually altered my view on this topic. Bear in mind, I don’t stand at the opposite of where you stand.

    * First, IQ means something, not everything but something. In the heydays of Microsoft, when Bill Gates was asked, “what Microsoft competitor worries you most?” — “Goldman Sachs. Software is an IQ business. Microsoft must win the IQ war, or we won’t have a future. I don’t worry about Lotus or IBM, because the smartest guys would rather come to work for Microsoft. Our competitors for IQ are investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.”

    There is no secret that many firms, including Microsoft, Google & Facebook, routinely ask their prospective employees IQ test-like questions. If you run a business that rejects the relationship between IQ testing and intelligence, and I run one that accepts it. Everything else being equal, there is a high probability that my business will be more successful than yours.

    * What make the topic a huge intellectual taboo is the past including Colonialism and Nazism. In my opinion,we have gone to the other extreme, which can be detrimental to the mankind as a whole in the long run.

    * Race in many multi-ethnic societies, is often an artificial construct. For example, many Dominicans who can be considered black in the US, call themselves Spanish and call Haitians who to outsiders don’t look significantly differently from them, blacks. Another example, Obama in Brazil will likely call himself a Pardo.

    Anyway, these are some high-level bullet points I want to make. Like I said, if you want to discuss this further, please have a separate post.

  17. August 11th, 2012 at 15:10 | #17

    @Charles Liu

    Even weeks after IOC anti-doping test cleared Ye Shiwen, there’re still media report implicating her with doping. These are the most recent media narrative:
    Linking Ye Shiwen with Michelle Smith: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/unfair-play/482912/

    Even today, there are still birthers out there (those who question if Obama was born in the US), and they are by no means a small minority. Here is the problem: even if you lay down all the facts, there will always be many people who just don’t pay attention to the facts, or don’t care for the facts, or simply just lack analytic skills. Even let’s say you don’t know the facts… if Obama wasn’t born in the US, or even just had a slight possibility of not being born in the US, wouldn’t you think Hillary Clinton or John McClain would’ve seized the issue long ago?

    If you are pro-Obama, you almost want the birthers to talk and drown out some other legitimate criticism on Obama, because the more the birthers talk, the better Obama will look.

    BTW, Business Standard is an Indian newspaper.

  18. pug_ster
    August 11th, 2012 at 19:12 | #18


    Never ceases to amaze me the stupidity of Charlie Custer, Roasted Duck’s Richard and other China bashing morons. The issue with Ye Shiwen is with the Western Propaganda itself follow up on John Leonard’s ignorance and dismissive of why more than 90% of the Chinese in one poll who thinks John Leonard should apologize. Charlie thinks that he understands the Chinese people but he is just like the next ignorant westerner.

  19. August 11th, 2012 at 20:10 | #19

    There is nothing majorly wrong with Custer’s piece, other than in my opinion:

    * The damn piece is way too amateurish. For example, Qiu Bo is the reigning FINA diver of the year. His winning of the silver is like USA men’s basketball winning the silver, which of course is upsetting. On the other hand, Daley has been in decline since 2009. An imperfect analogy to his bronze would be China men’s basketball winning the bronze, in which case they would be ecstatic.

    * He relies way too much on what he reads from the Internet, just like he did in many other cases. The comments you read from the Internet often don’t represent the majority. Tin-foiled conspiracy theorists often are minority, but vocal minority.

    * In the long run, everything evens out. The Korean fencer Shin might’ve been robbed, but it couldn’t remotely close to be as bad as Roy Jones, Jr. in 1988. Speaking of 1988, Xiong Ni was robbed, and that really hurt badly because China won only 5 golds that year — that amounted to 20% of the gold medals robbed! Nowadays, China’s medal base is so big that things tend to even out within one Olympic Games. For those Chinese who complain about the referees/judges, act like somebody from a sports superpower.

    * Well, anything in life involved judgments by others inherently has bias built in. If it’s important enough to you, you’d better be like what a good lawyer does: carefully prep the jurors. Spend time and resource to get more of your people in the rules-governing bodies, which China has done a reasonably ok job.

    * The case of Ye Shiwen, and the subsequent media coverage, is another story altogether. It’s a disgrace — not just Leonard but also a handful media outlets.

  20. August 11th, 2012 at 20:46 | #20

    An example of things evened out: you’d think with the headline, “Chinese badminton players DQ’d”, China got the short end of the stick, especially given that the top Chinese female pair was ousted. Well, the one that really got screwed was Korea in the whole DQ fiasco. Both Korea’s pairs were DQ’d. China actually came out ahead, if you asked me. The scary pair for China is the top Korean pair, Ha/Kim. Korea beat China in the 2010 Uber Cup, last time the Chinese women suffered a major loss.

  21. August 11th, 2012 at 23:19 | #21

    Notice how BBC appears ‘objective’ by giving Leonard’s accusations still as equals?

    I agree with perspectivehere’s assessment that the BBC is one heck of a propaganda machine. If you read that article, Ye Shiwen is placed in a position of defending. If the BBC wants Leonard to be wrong or prefer for him to take the beating, that article would be written with Leonard on the defensive.

    If Ye Shiwen is a British swimmer, Leonard would be characterized by the BBC as a sour grape sob without ‘sour gape’ ever put in quotes.

    I would give the BBC a D mainly because it is smart enough to provide some ‘balance,’ by itself already makes it look light years better than the likes of the NYT or The Guardian which I wrote about earlier.

    Don’t fall for it.

  22. August 12th, 2012 at 00:14 | #22


    So why do you give kudos to Nature in your other thread?

    Even the editor’s “apology” wasn’t really one – it still stuck to its gun that it was being “scientific and objective” – and apologized only to the extent that it might have seem to be giving ammunition to Ye’s detractors.

    I mean, it still treated the other side as a legitimate “equal.”

  23. August 12th, 2012 at 01:20 | #23

    Fair point, Allen. Nature’s apology indeed gave the other side as a legitimate “equal” as you articulated in your post. I saw it much the same way too when I first read that apology.

    So, what changed my mind in positioning Nature’s apology subsequently when I wrote the OP?

    Now, I have seen National Geographics, as basically a magazine about nature, have gone very political and very anti-China in the past.

    Then I asked myself whether Nature is becoming more like National Geographics. When writer for Nature, Ewen Callaway, wrote that piece, I thought to myself, oh, no, Nature is beginning to serve politics too.

    In that context, I saw Nature’s apology as taking a very different stance. That apology, while didn’t make Ewen Callaway’s article look too stupid (which in actuality is), was accompanied by a critique. The editors in fact issued the word ‘apology.’

    From that, my take is that they want to be long term and they want to avoid serving politics.

    In contrast, BBC is not anywhere near what Nature did. It is still unabashedly a sly garbage.

  24. August 12th, 2012 at 03:26 | #24

    Agree with Allen. It exposes some issues with Natuire’s editors if they do not have the intigrity or training to see how deeply flawed the article’s reasoning was.

  25. Ricky
    August 12th, 2012 at 03:42 | #25


    Good analysis of the Chinageeks thread. Custer makes some good arguments, but he doesn’t touch on the reporting on Ye, and as you rightly say, the reporting of a handful of media outlets was disgraceful and he should have commented on it.

    * At the end of his piece, I think he makes one interesting and controversial comparison between some commentators in the Chinese media and John Leonard. John Leonard made unfounded allegations of doping and some in the Chinese media have accused the Olympic referees/officials of being biased against Chinese athletes. The decisions of the referees can be questioned through official channels and investigations can be carried out if necessary. However, until or if that happens the accusations are unproven. Although there are differences between the two, in both cases, some in the media gave credence to those who made accusations that they couldn’t prove.

    * I also saw that in one of his comments Custer had calculated this ratio: number of athletes/times ‘screwed’ –

    Iran came out top, which would tie in with Western bias, but then South Korea was second. China was down in fifth.

    My particular take on all this is that everybody watches the Olympics through the lens of their own nationality. People focus on the events that their country is good at. People remember their own nation’s outstanding athletes. People remember the decisions that go against the athletes of their own nation.

    I only found out this year that air rifle shooting was an Olympic sport. Most people around the world have never heard of Olympic gold medallist Maris Strombergs. In Canada, the referee’s decisions in the soccer game against the US will go down in infamy, but in the rest of the world nobody knows. And nobody cares.

  26. pug_ster
    August 12th, 2012 at 06:29 | #26


    Sorry don’t agree with you there. The problem with John Leonard’s idiotic remarks is not the issue, as there are probably many idiotic Americans who have sour grapes against the Chinese anyways. The real problem is the Western Propaganda actually took this douche-bag’s remarks seriously and the silence toward similar performances toward an American swimmer caused this ‘nationalist’ furor. This issue with Chen Yibing, Women’s Badminton and Guo Shuang caused a firestorm only because of Ye Shiwen.

    Another thing, C Custer is a hypocrite and an idiot about John Leonard’s remarks anyways. I mean C Custer wrote numerous rants about how foreigners are furious over Yang Rui with his Foreign Trash statement yet dismissive why so many ‘nationalist Chinese’ are angry over John Leonard’s statement. As I said, I don’t give a rat’s ass what John Leonard says anyways because he is a nobody anyways, but I find upsetting is how Western propaganda carry his idiotic message through.

  27. August 12th, 2012 at 14:04 | #27


    You actually think concrete accusations against real athletes, fake accusations to smear athletes who work their entire life for the Olympics and whose accomplishment define Olympics is in the same league as vague accusations against faceless unnamed judges the real import is to hopefully improve the system, to make the system fairer for the future?

    A couple of good articles:


    To most ordinary Chinese, the rules of the Olympic Games perhaps once seemed as irrelevant as the rules of UN conferences. However, several incidents over the past week during the London Olympic Games, combined with extensive public attention enabled by the growing popularity of social networking sites, have seen the rules of these games becoming one of the hottest topics in China.

    It began with eight badminton players, including China’s Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, who were disqualified from the women’s doubles after deliberately threw their matches in order to secure better draws in later rounds.

    A few days later, German-born British cyclist Philip Hindes admitted that he crashed on purpose during the qualifying round of the men’s team sprint on Thursday in order to restart a round the team was losing to Germany.

    But the International Cycling Union ruled the result was not in question, and the British cycling team later claimed that Hindes’ comment was a mistranslation.

    On the same day, China’s cycling team found itself in another drama, after the referee of the women’s team sprint insisted that the Chinese team broke the rules and awarded its gold medal to Germany. China’s appeal of this decision was turned down, and the team was fined 200 Swiss francs ($206) for ignoring orders.

    These incidents directly challenged Chinese understanding of the principle of international rules. The Chinese has started to realize now that even in the Olympic Games, where rules are well-established and fixed, issues like “double standards” can still exist.

    They also notice that rules are not simply set to prevent cheating and demand unconditional obedience, but can be challenged and be used to fight for one’s interests.

    Besides, since the people who create, implement and are governed by these rules are no saints, they will make mistakes and the rules will have flaws. Thus, the main function of rules is not to eradicate contradictions and mistakes, but to ensure game players to play in a regulated manner.

    Previously, the Chinese were influenced by the belief that rules set by international bodies are well-considered and fair. This naive perception shaped Chinese mentality in dealing with these rules, in that they preferred to obey than to question them. Obeying rules also matches nicely with traditional Confucian norms, which explains why the mainstream media in China has been demanding Chinese athletes behave in a nearly saintly fashion during the London Games.

    Ironically, both the organizers of the Olympic Games and China’s counterparts in these competitions, from the South Koreans to the British, have demonstrated our naivety of what rules are really for.

    Rules are neither for obeying nor for breaking, but are there for gain. They are not designed to prevent cheating, but to give a frame of what can and cannot be done in a competition. Taking advantages of the rules wisely and benefiting by them is key to winning.

    Choosing meek compliance rather than making reasonable appeals will not earn any compliments for sportsmanship. It will only be labeled as weak.

    Abandoning opportunities for legally exploiting rules, which have been constantly adopted by others, has nothing to do with being ethical but only shows one’s lack of understanding with and skill in handling the rules.

    No matter how strong a team is, without the ability to use the rules, it will lose the competition and its appeal, and even be fined for arguing. This is the reality of not only competitive sports, but also our world.

    If losing a few medals can wake China up from the blind obedience of international rules and facilitate debates in its society about the misperception of rules, then such losses are worth it.

    In fact, outside the Olympic Games, China is also challenged by many other international issues such as the Diaoyu Islands dispute, that will require a new understanding of international rules.

    Learning what rules the outside world really plays by should be one of the main goals of our participation in the London Games.


    There have been numerous biased and groundless news reports about China at the London Olympics. Similar incidents have happened before. The Beijing Olympic torch relay four years ago reminded the Chinese people how difficult it is to integrate into the world. We have reasons to wonder why the West always holds prejudices against anything related to China.

    Looking back through history, we can see that almost every developed country had a similar experience. While refuting certain emotional arguments on the international stage in a well-founded manner, China should focus on further improving itself. The real challenges for China are domestic problems rather than external noise or bias which can only cause temporary unfavorable public opinion environment. However, we should avoid equating criticism with bias since constructive criticism can be extremely helpful and useful though they may be sometimes exaggerated.

    There will be more grating noises in the process of China’s development. The key is to stand firm against bias and absorb constructive criticism. China must go through these international tests to achieve rejuvenation.

    Greater self-confidence is needed to withstand the tests of bias. China was, is, and will be a country with many problems and the crucial point is to realize the differences between current problems and those several decades ago.

    At the same time, informing the world of China’s problems in a moderate manner cannot only dispel Western concerns but also shows China’s confidence. The country has done a great job in this regard. In recent years, Chinese leaders have reiterated on various occasions that China’s development remains severely unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable.

    China’s future depends on its own actions rather than outside criticism. The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will be achieved as long as China does not sway back and forth, avoid self-inflicted setbacks and grows in confidence amid bias.

  28. August 12th, 2012 at 18:04 | #28

    I would also want to add that appeal is also part of the rule of law. In many instances, the Chinese players and coaches don’t know how to properly use this process. For example, the female silver medalist did not understand why she was fouled a few times for her service. She played through the game under duress (albeit against another Chinese player).

    In gymnastic, if the Japanese coach did not protest/appeal, they would not get a medal.

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