Thursday, June 28, 2007


2008 Games will stimulate East-West exchanges 2007-06-28 09:24:12

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BEIJING, June 28 -- The Beijing Olympics will leave China and the world at large a unique legacy, claimed the evaluation report submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in May 2001 by an IOC assessment group.
The 2008 Games are indeed expected to make great contributions not merely to the world of sport but human civilization as well.
The contributions boil down to four areas, in the opinion of this author.
First, the athletic accomplishments made by Chinese athletes and the sportsmanship demonstrated by them are bound to impress the world audience deeply.
Second, China, with its unique ways, will help enrich the sports culture of humanity.
Third, the Games will largely promote the friendship between Chinese and the people of the world.
Fourth, the Games will serve to power the development of the world's sports-related sciences and technology, sports culture and sports-related industries.
However, the contributions go far beyond these. The 2008 Games promise to go down in the annals as a brilliant chapter of communication and understanding between different cultures.
This author still remembers clearly the description of the Beijing Olympic torch relay itinerary announced by the Beijing 2008 Games Bidding Committee in the summer of 2001 in Moscow. The description of the route obviously drew its inspiration from the ancient Silk Road.
The Silk Road was representative of exchanges between China and the rest of the world. The extensive exchanges and interactions benefited the economies and cultures of China and other countries in the Eurasia landmass. To our regret, however, the communications via the Silk Road came to a halt in the latter periods of the Chinese feudalist society.
During the Cold War period, exchanges between China and the West were reduced to a trickle, if not totally stopped, owing to a host of complicated factors.
When the reform and opening up were launched in the late 1970s, China opened its door wide to the rest of the world and exchanges between Chinese and foreign cultures sprouted wings.
But the inertia of history is still at work. Some people in the West still harbor misgivings and skepticism about China. A handful of them go so far as to interpret China's domestic and foreign polices through the lens of a Cold-War mentality.
This can be attributed to a string of factors such as ideological and cultural differences and Western-style pride and prejudice. More important, however, their ignorance of China is the root cause of their bigotry.
A Chinese saying goes: "It is better to see something once for yourself than to hear about it a hundred times." What do China and the Chinese look like? Is the country a paradise or hell? Is it a place where you can make money or the fountainhead of the "Yellow Peril?"
Buy an Olympic Games ticket and visit China to see for yourself.
Laughter and applause at the competition venue are free from propaganda. Instead, they stand for truth and sincerity. And truth and sincerity make the bridge leading to understanding.
Exchange is a two-way thing. The Chinese are presented with a host of questions, too: How to absorb those elements of foreign cultures, Western culture in particular, that are pouring into the country? How to properly handle the relationship between foreign and Chinese cultures in the general context of globalization? How to differentiate between the cream and dregs of foreign cultures and choose the former over the latter? These are the questions nobody should avoid.
Some Chinese media and individuals are showing narrow nationalist feelings, which indicates that a blind area exists in the Chinese public's understanding of the outside world.
In view of this, the remarks of Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of China's reform and opening up, are of enlightening significance, in the opinion of this author.
Deng said: "I am the son of the Chinese people and love my country and people profoundly." He also said: "I, as a member of the Chinese nation, am very much honored to become a world citizen."
His remarks are a good example of the combination of nationalism and cosmopolitanism.
If everyone of us can "retain our roots and also open our hearts", as was exemplified by Deng, our ancient motherland will evolve into a "youthful China".
But how should the average Chinese approach foreign cultures? By traveling abroad? No. The average Chinese is not that well off. In addition, they would run into many barriers on their travels, not only linguistic but also cultural and psychological.
Which is why the Beijing Olympic Games will provide the average Chinese with the best chance to get to know foreign cultures through the athletes, tourists, officials and journalists.
When the 13,000 athletes and coaches from around the world arrive in Beijing, when the army of foreign journalists shuttles between competition venues and wanders through Beijing's streets and alleys, when 300,000 foreign visitors are present everywhere in the city, when millions of people in all countries watch the Games on TV, are the Chinese still isolated from the Global Village?
The day will have come when the Chinese nation is integrated into the world.
(The author is a researcher with the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies)
(Source: China Daily/Qin Xiaoying)
Editor: An Lu
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