NEW YORK – Almost everyone in the world who watched the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was impressed by China’s preparations, the acumen of the Chinese in running such a complex and challenging event, and the rich harvest of medals – especially gold medal – that Chinese athletes won.
It was abundantly evident in the run-up to the Games how important it was to Chinese everywhere to show themselves to advantage. One got a sense of this when China’s reputation and the Games’ status came under attack during the Tibetan demonstrations and protests against the Olympic torch as it made its tortured progress around the world.
But, when all was said and done, through what turned out to be often Draconian controls, China pulled off quite a feat! Indeed, it is hard to imagine that the British will care as much, or go to such extremes, for the London Olympics in 2012.
For many years, especially since the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, China has felt a deficit of global respect. This feeling has deeply troubled its leaders and filled its people with a sense that, despite all their economic progress, their proper place in the world was not only eluding them, but being denied to them by the endless criticism of the so-called “developed world.”