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Learning to slam dunk

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James Reynolds | 23:50 UK time, Sunday, 10 August 2008

First one Chinese player dunked the ball into the net. Then another. Then another.

The way the Chinese men's basketball team warmed up for their Olympic match against the USA tonight revealed a huge amount about how China has changed in recent years.

Chinese players never used to slam dunk (unlike their counterparts in the American NBA, who made the slam their jaw-dropping, signature move). The slam was once seen in China as selfish, individualistic, and possibly even morally corrupt - therefore, entirely unsuitable for a diligent, loyal Communist.

For years, Chinese players played an elegant, non-physical, even slightly clinical form of basketball. And they also did all their playing inside China - far from the reach of the decadent west.

But at the same time as Chinese players were gently throwing the ball into the net (in as socialist a fashion as they could possibly manage), the NBA was looking hungrily at China.

<br />
China's Ming Yao (R) shoots at the basket in front of Kobe Bryant from the US during a 2008 Beijing Olympic GamesIn 1990, the NBA Commissioner David Stern, began his attempt to break into the Chinese market. For him, success meant recruiting a few Chinese stars, and then taking them over to America to play in his league (thereby giving hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers a reason to watch NBA games - and adverts).

After years of negotiations (chronicled in the book 'Operation Yao Ming' by Brooke Larmer) China agreed to release two basketball players to the NBA. The first player - Wang Zhizhi - made little impact. The second - Yao Ming - did much better. He's now one of the biggest stars in the NBA - and also possibly the most famous Chinese person in the world.

When he went over to America, Yao Ming at first refused to slam dunk the ball. Eventually (as told by Larmer) his coach told him that if he didn't slam the ball into the net like a true NBA player, the rest of the team would be made to run laps of the court as punishment. So, Yao began to dunk (at 7 foot 6, dunking for Yao doesn't appear to be more taxing than dropping a letter into a postbox).

Gradually, Yao Ming and the rest of China began to adopt the NBA's style of play. Chinese players got more physical, they dunked, they fouled, they cheered when they scored. They also began to copy NBA players and wear baggy shorts (a change from the plain, much shorter gym shorts the Chinese used to wear).

So, tonight in Beijing, Chinese players in baggy shorts - led by their very first NBA exports Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi - queued up to dunk the ball into the net. There was little difference between them and the players warming up on the other side of the court - the American stars of the NBA (apart from a noticeable lack of tattoos on the Chinese players' arms).

Through basketball, China has learned not to be too afraid or sceptical of American influence. It's even learned to copy what the Americans do. The next step for China is to beat the Americans at their own game.

But that may have to wait for a bit. Tonight the Americans won the game pretty easily (101-70).

The US team may have been spurred by a couple of spectators with the same name. George Bush Senior (who was once the US envoy to China) and the current President Bush watched the game from some reasonably ordinary seats near the halfway line (we'd all been expecting them to pick the much more plush box seats higher up.) It was a little odd to look over at the stands and see the man who can start a nuclear war (and also his father, who could once do the same) blending into the rest of the crowd. Then again, President Bush once owned a major league baseball team and routinely sat in the stands near the dugout, allowing him to mix with the players and the fans - a nifty way of being seen as a man of the people as he began his political career.

So, next time I go to an Olympic event, I'll take along my binoculars and see if I can spot China's President Hu Jintao sitting in the bleachers.

Comments

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  • 1. At 00:51am on 11 Aug 2008, zickyyy wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 01:01am on 11 Aug 2008, walkingfish99 wrote:

    winning the game is a piece of cake for american team=) they played so easily,and we saw some real skillful shots ! chinese team played so cool! it's the best in the team's history so far =)

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  • 3. At 01:10am on 11 Aug 2008, yetingsong wrote:

    Please stop advocating that physical, open, expressive, selfish, out-spoken, as the only way, or the right way to enjoy life.

    Contrary to your report, I think Chinese team played a very tactical game, much less physical than the Americans, and much more 3 pointers. The Chinese players may be wearing a bagged shorts, they will always play a very Chinese game. China will learn from others, but Chinese will always be Chinese, with 5000 years of culture and tradition behind them, imprinted in their heart.

    To the surprise or disappointment of James and other westerners, the world doesn't contain just two colors, black and white. There isn't only one way of winning. The world is a big enough place to allow for many many colors, styles, cultures, ideologies.

    In fact, I think the rise of China, offers the world a different choice - as Bush famously said, you're either with America or against it. Well now, you can be with China, instead of the previous two choices demanded by the Americans.

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  • 4. At 01:10am on 11 Aug 2008, marginalreform wrote:

    Sure individualism has emerged/surged in China in recent decades, but in many ways than one China still has more of a collective mind set than people in the West. I don't know about Britain, but in the US, for example, the media's focus is on individuals like Yao Ming and Phelps (NBC is almost exclusively on Yao Ming during the opening ceremoney when the Chinese delegation marched into the stadium). And the media here portraited the US-China bastetball game as a "historic" game, calling the Olympics as Yao Ming's olympics. Yao Ming is of course a big star in China too, but people in China paid more attention to how the opening ceremony looked, how many gold medals China can get as a whole, rather than how any individual fared in the game. The olympics is certainly not Yao Ming's olympics (don't take me wrong, I like him too). There will be so many medalists; at least in Olympics they mean more to China than a bastetball team.

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  • 5. At 02:12am on 11 Aug 2008, luckypapadatos wrote:

    I have 3 comments to James:

    1. Chinese players never used to slam dunk (unlike their counterparts in the American NBA, who made the slam their jaw-dropping, signature move). The slam was once seen in China as selfish, individualistic, and possibly even morally corrupt - therefore, entirely unsuitable for a diligent, loyal Communist. For years, Chinese players played an elegant, non-physical, even slightly clinical form of basketball. And they also did all their playing inside China - far from the reach of the decadent west.

    How did you get that? That's stupid. I have been China for over 35 years. I never heard such thing. You made up or you copied form some jerks. I would like to say it was lack of physical, technical ability.

    2. Hi James, do you have any Chinese friends? I mean the grassroot friends, such as taxi driver, rubbish collector, etc. Not the beaurucrat or business tycoon. Probably not, because you can't speak Chinese. If you can't go into the circle of ordinary Chinese, you won't have a chance to hear some excellent polotical jokes. It's no pity, you probably would interpret into another way.

    3. Hu Jintao is a jerk like any other leaders, but he's into Table-tennis and dancing, he escaped from Bush's asking more bloody money for saving US mortgage.

    Finally, if you don't knwo English, you don't have a right to judge Shakespeare, you can't speak CHinese, your report is less reliable.

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  • 6. At 02:55am on 11 Aug 2008, TommyJ1984 wrote:

    Don't bother bringing in your binoculars James, cos you'll never see President Hu Jin Tao in any of the games. You know why? He's got a country to run.

    While Bush is enjoying his match and Gordon Brown is having a good time in Southwold, the Chinese leaders are still busying working. In fact, the top leaders in China never get any holidays. You don't need to be seen 'blending into the rest of the crowd' to be a people's leader. If you run a country like Bush did, it doesn't matter how close you sit with the crowd, you are always going to be remember as one of the worst presidents in the history of mankind.

    As regards to your knowledge of basketball, you really don't have a clue what you're talking about, do you? You probably don't know that slam dunk was banned by NCAA in the US for 10 years due to, arguably, racism reasons.

    Maybe there is a lesson you could learn from Chinese Basketball players. You should stop being afraid of and sceptical about China and its influences and stop spreading such scepticism among people. Journalist and media are supposed to bring people closer and make people understand each other better, not provoking and polarising people, which is exactly what you have done with your blog. Being a criticiser of everything, you could also take a minute and take on board some of the criticisms against you gracefully. If you don’t, you’ll just see more ‘conflicts’ in the comments on your blog and more extreme criticisms. Of course, if this is what you and your editors want, then fine, so be it.

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  • 7. At 03:27am on 11 Aug 2008, tucsonmike wrote:

    So the Chinese are learning to slam dunk, LOL!
    Maybe the Chinese players can read the book Elevating the Game, Black Men and Basketball. It is written by a high school classmate named Nelson George.
    Because of Yao Ming, maybe in twenty years China will be a major basketball power.

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  • 8. At 05:25am on 11 Aug 2008, trytobefairenough wrote:

    James, i wonder why you can't stopping judging things. Maybe you have to do so 'coz your profession requires it, or it's just your cynical british way?

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  • 9. At 05:38am on 11 Aug 2008, pitapat wrote:

    well done, James! Good observation and witty as ever! I have been reading your posts and really like them.

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  • 10. At 06:19am on 11 Aug 2008, objection2it wrote:

    Such an easy game to play, but the Chinese made it into a military operation.

    Just get the ball in the net, nevermind the passing and looking around for help.

    The China team needs to move the ball faster, shoot the ball faster, run faster, jump higher, and not just learning to dunk the ball.

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  • 11. At 07:14am on 11 Aug 2008, buaadallas wrote:

    Oh, James
    You are not a basketball fan, especially you know nothing about Chinese basketball. You wrote this article by imagination!
    Before Wang Zhizhi went to NBA, he was a famous star in China. 10 years ago, in CBA (China Basketball Association),there is a prize to the player who dunk most!
    For Yao Ming, do you know that, when he played in CBA, half of his scores were from dunks!
    20 years ago, there was a famous Chinese player called Song Xiaobin, he had signed the contract with a NBA team (but failed play in NBA due to injuery), he liked slam dunk.
    I just wonder how dare are you to wrote this kind of article without any knowledge about China!!!???
    In the end, I suggest you to search some photos which Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao sit and ate together with ordinary Chinese people, you will find numerous..... go ahead..

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  • 12. At 09:30am on 11 Aug 2008, nonothing wrote:

    "The slam was once seen in China as selfish, individualistic, and possibly even morally corrupt - therefore, entirely unsuitable for a diligent, loyal Communist."

    Geez, who told you that?

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  • 13. At 09:50am on 11 Aug 2008, londonlurker wrote:

    It's suprised me how abled James can always link everything Chinese to Communism.

    The idea of 'Slam dunk being unsuitable for a communist' is inventive and more like a flashback of good old McCarthyism.

    As a Chinese has never liked so-called communism whatsoever, I still don't like dunking bastetball myself. More precisely, I don't like playing any sports that will physically clash with people or is seemingly aggressive. The sports I'm good at are badminton and table tenis.

    The reason then? My explanation is Confucism. "Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire", a teaching from Analect, is one of the underlying values of Chinese society. If I don't want to feel offended during the games, why should I do it to others?

    "Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire" can also be interpreted in another way: If I don't offend you, I will expect that you will not offend me at the same time. Otherwise it goes to tit for tat, or in Chinese saying 'eye for eye, teech for teech'. So when we say please don't interfere with our internal affairs, we really do mean that.

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  • 14. At 10:32am on 11 Aug 2008, manpet wrote:

    Wait and see. I don't think Chinese leaders will miss this good opportunity to have a good PR image.

    Actually they have done quite lot before. I am quite confused with James point here. To me, I just feel Bush is learning the PR skill from Chinese leaders...

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  • 15. At 11:26am on 11 Aug 2008, rrrrzzzz wrote:

    Hi James, if you really do not like China, please tell your boss rather then write these non-sense staff.

    Do not know if you play basketball, but your comment about the slam and shorts is unture.

    I do not know if Mr Hu will go to see the game since I think he is really busy right now.

    Thanks

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  • 16. At 1:08pm on 11 Aug 2008, zickyyy wrote:

    "The slam was once seen in China as selfish, individualistic, and possibly even morally corrupt - therefore, entirely unsuitable for a diligent, loyal Communist."

    I so admire your imagination, James.

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  • 17. At 1:21pm on 11 Aug 2008, hughye wrote:

    Poor James seems still upset that he was 'hot' while the benevolent Mr. Hu, and cannot help link everything with him. Even when the everyone-disliked Mr. Bush chosed his seat for some his own reason, the talented James cannot help praising him and cynically imply that Mr. Hu would not do as good as Mr. Bush.

    This blog is good at first but sorry, the ending is definitly over-worried.

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  • 18. At 1:25pm on 11 Aug 2008, endyjai wrote:

    Chinese lads are bad at Basketball and Football.. End of story. That's it really. Some of these comments are way to analytical.

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  • 19. At 1:28pm on 11 Aug 2008, endyjai wrote:

    Oh and to the blog... I still would like to hear what some fans think of the game... Maybe I've misunderstood the reasons for blogs. It's personal and opinionated, not report-like.

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  • 20. At 1:45pm on 11 Aug 2008, Richchild wrote:

    The westen countries kept asking for a more opened China. And yet when we do open up to you, and you send your reporters/journalists who may know nothing or very little histroy about China to critise every little thing about China. Seriously it is no good to report things to the public when you apply your thoughts on something you read in another article/book written by another foreign writer. You need to learn the facts!

    Being living in the Britain for the past 10 years have taught me how dangerous this coutry really is! And the danger is increasing rapidly! And the tax and social security systems are one of the worst I have ever seen! Now these are facts!

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  • 21. At 1:52pm on 11 Aug 2008, angrychinese wrote:

    I feel very very sad everytime after wacthing your blog. You just keep grasping or creating every possibility to criticise China. Eventhough you are allowed to watch the fantastic opening ceremony, there is no any flattering from your month. You role is like doomed.

    It is pity to let you into the ceremony. China is too friendly to BBC or jounalists like you. You just bite everytime without any exception, made use by dirty politics of UK who is firm followers of US whereever he is right or wrong. China is the last a few countries out of controlled by US. Don't fool westerners.

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  • 22. At 2:00pm on 11 Aug 2008, thisisacryforhelp wrote:

    Chairman Hu might just like sitting among proletariats such as peasants and migrant workers in every Chinese new year. And, luckily there is always a camera so you can easily spot him on TV.

    No need for binoculars then.

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  • 23. At 2:24pm on 11 Aug 2008, elduderino10 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 24. At 2:35pm on 11 Aug 2008, dj1979 wrote:

    Well, this "slam-dunk is not suitable for a communist" theory is tempting, yet I'm sceptical about that.

    As for being unable to mix with ordinary Chinese when one doesn't speak Chinese, I disagree - I lived in China perfectly all right being an English teacher with just a few basic Chinese words and I could talk to my students in private as well. They even told me some political jokes. One was even about Mao.

    And finally: this so-called 5000 years of Chinese history is a beatufil myth instilled into the Chinese people's mindset. Archeological evidence points towards less than 4000 and all that's before is based on myths (Yellow Emperor etc.) or cannot be surely linked to any credible instances of continuous civilisation as such. I am still to see a single Chinese historic construction dating back 5000 years. In the West we can find it easily - Stonehenge is 4500 years old and civilizations from which the West has drawn heavily - Mesopotamia, Egypt, Ancient Greece - are as old or older that the archelogically confirmed Chinese dynasties Shang and Zhou. The oldest Western literary work, The Illiad, is hundreds of years older than any Chinese literary piece of similar magnitude. So please guys, stop this "5000 years of history" propaganda. And even if this was true - the heritage alone is not what makes someone worthy of respect - it's how they use it. Brandishing it everytime, everywhere and to everyone is not the most respectful of things to do.

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  • 25. At 2:37pm on 11 Aug 2008, heyone wrote:

    Well, as londonlurker pointed out, I think the slam-dunk thing is more about Chinese culture than Communism. In many ways Communism is in line with the Chinese culture. But in today's China most of these is lost.

    The no-interfering-with-our-internal-affairs catchline is also quite typical.

    Whether criticising China's human rights records counts as an interference of internal affairs is arguable. I don't think it counts.

    There's a Chinese saying that one would only sweep the snow in front of his own house - my observation is that many Chinese people have little concern for people who are not directly related to themselves. I guess that's why many Chinese people have little interest in international news and world politics (I don't think many would know who Sarkozy is if he didn't suggest boycotting the Beijing Olympics).

    If criticising counts as an interference of internal affairs, it's quite normal that many Chinese people would feel bullied by the rest of the world's continuous 'interference' to China's internal affairs - since many Chinese haven't been returning the favour by criticsing the rest of the world (a result of lack of interest or information).

    If criticism counts as interference, I can see no shortage of brutal interference to Jame's reporting here.


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  • 26. At 2:41pm on 11 Aug 2008, hebeichina wrote:

    "The slam was once seen in China as selfish, individualistic, and possibly even morally corrupt - therefore, entirely unsuitable for a diligent, loyal Communist. "

    hi,james. are you ok? who told you this? you are really brave.

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  • 27. At 3:37pm on 11 Aug 2008, typingfromwork wrote:

    James, as absurd as your comments about non-slam dunking equating a loyal Communist is, I find that the spirit of the statment does have a basis in reality. It wasn't too long ago that China used to have the most comformist sports regime in the world. During an all Chinese finals of a Table tennis world championship in the 70's or 80's (I forgot) one of the athletes was instructed from the top to lose, just so that his opponent could become a three-in-a-row world champion. The athlete decided to disobey, beat his opponent and grabed the trophy for himself. This was chided in China at the time as extremely selfish, and how dare he not put the glory of China's reputation first instead of self advancement, etc.

    Nowadays Chinese people are way more individualistic. Is it really Western influence? A bit. Mostly it comes from simply opening up. Chinese society is also much more tolerent of individualism. As far as I'm concerned, this is a very good direction for us to go in.

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  • 28. At 4:21pm on 11 Aug 2008, jayjaybee-uk wrote:

    Wow. I'm genuinely surprised at the response that some of these blogs are getting. I thought this entry was quite humorous and irreverent (if not slightly tongue in cheek). I do like these insights into Chinese from an admittedly 'foreign' perspective, but i can't help but thinking that some people are getting a little defensive about things. I think generally people in Britain are quite used to heavy criticism of there sport bodies, government, celebrities etc....you name it! To point out Britain foibles is like shooting fish in a barrel, so using that as a response is a little odd.

    But lets be honest here, i think China is doing a great job with the Olympics and its going to give London a hard task to follow. Oh, and i was kind of hoping China could bring USA down a peg or two in the basketball but well, some things are just not meant to be!

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  • 29. At 5:04pm on 11 Aug 2008, objection2it wrote:

    to #24, dj1979

    It was because of negative teachings from western people like you that China had to have a cultural revolution to erase all the whiteman's put China down thinkings and all the old ways that keeps China in the past.

    In most western history text books, China has no real history like that of Egypt or Greece. Now as you say not even of Stonehenge.

    Your students in China will be like that of western educated idiots by the time you're finished with them.

    Hope your english is better than your knowledge of ancient Chinese history.

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  • 30. At 6:08pm on 11 Aug 2008, yetingsong wrote:

    To dj1979,

    Where did you get numbers from? Have you ever looked up wikiepdia or other creditable source for your assumption?

    Besides, forget about the argument of how old the Chinese culture is, it is generally recognised that China is the longest continuous culture surviving from ancient times. Take stone hedge for example, OK it was dated roughly about 4500 years ago, but do any of you in Britain know what it is? Who put it there? Why it's there? What does it all mean? Did any culture, values, language, etc etc been passed on from that era? Can you even call the builders of Stone hedge British!!!?????

    Same goes for Egyptians, Babylon-eses, Ancient India, etc etc, has anything been successfully passed down relatively unchanged from those ancient civilisations? Are there anyone who still speak these ancient languages anymore?

    Now do you understand why people say Chinese culture is the most successful culture in the world? Our culture supported the largest population in the world, the Chinese still have the same blood flowing through their vines that originated from ancient times, we still speak the same language as our ancestors, and we still have those values (at least try to before Hollywood blows everything away) from those ancient times.


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  • 31. At 6:48pm on 11 Aug 2008, dj1979 wrote:

    heyone wrote:
    In many ways Communism is in line with the Chinese culture.

    Have you read "The year of the Rooster: Chinese and rebels" by Guy Sorman? In this fascinating book the French author forcefully argues that communism has very little, if anything, to do with the Chinese culture. Autocracy - maybe, but it was in line with most cultures anyway, in the West as well. Communism - definitely not.

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  • 32. At 7:20pm on 11 Aug 2008, AnonymousCalifornian wrote:

    The title of your post is also relevant the other way around. The United States cannot 'contain' China, and so has decided to cooperate with the country.

    China cannot be beaten, so the Americans will join them and try to guide their ascendancy into becoming a peaceful, and responsible (Sudan, Burma), superpower.

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  • 33. At 7:28pm on 11 Aug 2008, AnonymousCalifornian wrote:

    On the basketball topic, hopefully the American team doesn't beat up other players and insult them (which was the point that was referring to in the earlier, rejected, post [#34]), as they've done in other Olympics. Most Americans would rather the team lose than have the nation shamed by appearing to be a bunch of arrogant bullies (which is an issue Americans have to deal with outside the Olympics arena already).

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  • 34. At 7:48pm on 11 Aug 2008, londonlurker wrote:

    To heyone No.25:
    "Whether criticising China's human rights records counts as an interference of internal affairs is arguable. I don't think it counts."

    I bet the definition of "internal affairs" to you is meaningless then.

    "There's a Chinese saying that one would only sweep the snow in front of his own house"

    Please! Learn a bit Chinese. This is not a saying that tells you what to do, it is the one that tells what not to do! Talking about ignorance.

    "If criticising counts as an interference of internal affairs, it's quite normal that many Chinese people would feel bullied by the rest of the world's continuous 'interference' to China's internal affairs - since many Chinese haven't been returning the favour by criticsing the rest of the world (a result of lack of interest or information).If criticism counts as interference, I can see no shortage of brutal interference to Jame's reporting here. "

    James is reporting China. Is he not? Tell me why Chinese arguing back counts as "brutal interference"? If I badmouth about your family and you argue with me, can I say that you are brutally interfering me?

    If you feel the 'brutality' only by a few posts that return the favor to what you guys provoked, how should Chinese feel about when the west constantly badmouthing China without being provoked?

    One last thing, can anyone gives me one example, just one, of a not-having-very-good-human-rights-record country (not in a war) improved its human rights situation after western interference? Any country?

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  • 35. At 9:05pm on 11 Aug 2008, chaobai wrote:

    Seriuosly, I would guess that one or two ids here are just James himself.

    The point is not what Chinese values. The point is no matter whether Chinese care more about the international affairs or themselves, as long as China is developing in a different way from western did, China/Chinese will be always be regarded as a threat or evil by the western media. No matter what Chinese are doing, it won't be anywhere near the 'right'.

    James or heyone, I would be interested if you will smile and accept happily when some guests to your home say your place is a rubbish bin and want it to be redecorated in the way they like.

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  • 36. At 9:24pm on 11 Aug 2008, EWONGNL wrote:

    "If you can't beat them, join them".

    ?!

    James, You can't be serious!

    Can you beat CCP?
    If No, are you suggesting you gonna...?


    WARNING:

    Never look at the "emporer" using "binoculars ". I admire your new found courage though. In case you are not aware, roof top snipers are stichtly trained for this kind of events.
    Take care of youself!

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  • 37. At 10:52pm on 11 Aug 2008, tinyFromchina wrote:

    wow, where did you get that, James.

    Who told you Chinese players dont dunk..

    investigate more about Chinese basketball league.

    even when Yao was in CBA, he dunks quite a lot, besides other players in CBA as well.

    who told you Yao refused to dunk in NBA once?

    Man, i feel sorry for you. investigate, do some research, then write. OK??

    i would like to see Chinese Basketball team play UK basketball team, that would be interesting.

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  • 38. At 10:52pm on 11 Aug 2008, tinyFromchina wrote:

    Can you dunk? James?

    even you're free as a bird.

    show me your skill.

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  • 39. At 02:22am on 12 Aug 2008, tclim38 wrote:

    James, you have really stretched yourself to link basketball and "communist". Nice job. Very funny.

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  • 40. At 04:32am on 12 Aug 2008, JimTsinghua wrote:

    Hi James,

    There's another potentially explosive subject you can use to mess things up a little more: How the Chinese meida treat those who did not win the gold as expected ..... and compare with what the western media would do.

    Have fun!

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  • 41. At 04:35am on 12 Aug 2008, howardzzzz wrote:

    I think James' job in China is so called "demon advocate" whose only role is to say bad things about this country.

    That is the reason why he gets his pay from BBC head quarter.

    So just ignore when he is over imagining sometime, because it is a hard work for him to make his living.

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  • 42. At 04:35am on 12 Aug 2008, churchgore wrote:

    Quote James “The slam was once seen in China as selfish, individualistic, and possibly even morally corrupt - therefore, entirely unsuitable for a diligent, loyal Communist.”


    Dear James, how do you know? Clearly, your Chinese skill is not good enough for a smooth communication.

    Please refrain from repeating a cold war propaganda which is indoctrinated during your childhood.

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  • 43. At 10:55am on 12 Aug 2008, Walsh of Wembley wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 44. At 11:21am on 12 Aug 2008, ilovechina1223 wrote:

    James, as a Chinese, I should say that you know nothing about china and nothing about what happened around the world.

    Anyway i could understand why you are still here to writing those unturful story about china and bad point about China.

    You got pay to do the job, are you.

    Why not just sit down at take easy to write some good blog about Olympic game, instead of picking or make up the story to make china looks bad.

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  • 45. At 11:29am on 12 Aug 2008, AnonymousCalifornian wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 46. At 1:39pm on 12 Aug 2008, Nick wrote:

    I truly enjoyed my time in China. Everyday Chinese are truly generous, welcoming and warm-hearted. I say this despite the incessant harking on about 5000 years of history that most Chinese only have a sanitised knowledge.

    The barrage of insults hurled at James' lack of knowledge is wearing thin. Time for rent-a-mob bloggers to relax. As for James - it would be a change to read something less cynical.

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  • 47. At 1:52pm on 12 Aug 2008, anson2004 wrote:

    Please allow me to lift your point to higher level.

    If I am correct, you are trying to argue that some people in China are getting less conservative.

    As a Chinese, I doubt that a single event , The Olympic Game, will let Chinese surrender to the US culture. You are talking about heroism, individualism which are pervailing in the US. However China herself has a strong culture and historical background. ( you may compare the age of the US and China [not Communist China] )

    Just take the basketball as an example. Please be reminded that many basketball players are trained by national team like soldiers since they were young. Wang and Yao may change to cope with NBA style, but > 99% of them are still remained to play in China.

    Admittedly, America is rich, many Chinese go to the US for studies and working, they bring back the US culture in which I think it will bring impact to Chinese. It is a good for China's development ( both economically and culturally ), but I am still hold a conservative view that US culture will "eat up" Chinese's.

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  • 48. At 2:10pm on 12 Aug 2008, heyone wrote:

    londonlurker #34

    'I bet the definition of "internal affairs" to you is meaningless then.'

    It is not about the definition of internal affairs, it's about what really counts as interference. I have never heard complaints from other major powers in the world about other people 'interfering' their internal affairs. I can't understand as a rising superpower why China wouldn't have the capacity of tolerating these criticisms. Unless you can start saying these human rights issues are all made up by the West, you can't blame people for criticising this (whatever intention you think they have). Of course you can always play ostrich and ignore your locked up countrymen - how patriotic !


    'Please! Learn a bit Chinese. This is not a saying that tells you what to do, it is the one that tells what not to do! Talking about ignorance.'

    Well by saying this you are assuming everybody who critiscises China doesn't understand Chinese? As far as I know, that phrase is an observation as well as a reminder. Deny that if you want but that observation is still generally true now.

    'James is reporting China. Is he not? Tell me why Chinese arguing back counts as "brutal interference"? If I badmouth about your family and you argue with me, can I say that you are brutally interfering me?'

    'If you feel the 'brutality' only by a few posts that return the favor to what you guys provoked, how should Chinese feel about when the west constantly badmouthing China without being provoked?'

    You are talking about badmouthing here. James' understanding of slam dunking in China might not be accurate and his personal interpretation (is this not a blog?) of Chinese slam-dunking might not suit your taste but is this badmouthing China? Are you talking about the 'bad stories' about China that James wrote? Well if yes, live with it and I don't think he's going to change his style. Bad stories get told because they happen.

    Of course you may criticise him here. My point is if criticism counts as interference, there are surely a lot interference going on here. But then interference so what? China can surely ignore those 'interference' if they want, so what's the big deal here? The bottom line is, if you want to get respect, you follow the rules. If you don't need respect, ignore them and they wouldn't matter at all.

    'One last thing, can anyone gives me one example, just one, of a not-having-very-good-human-rights-record country (not in a war) improved its human rights situation after western interference? Any country?'

    What are you trying to suggest here? That we should all stop caring? Think about sweeping your own snow. Of course you are going to start saying things like conspiracies and all that. But if you have perfect human rights in China, the West would have one less 'conspiracy' tool in their hands.

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  • 49. At 2:16pm on 12 Aug 2008, anson2004 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 50. At 5:09pm on 12 Aug 2008, londonlurker wrote:

    To heyone:
    "I have never heard complaints from other major powers in the world about other people 'interfering' their internal affairs. I can't understand as a rising superpower why China wouldn't have the capacity of tolerating these criticisms."

    Are you suggesting that whether or not a country should cares about 'interfering' needs to be based on how powerful it is? As I said before, "Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire" is a typical Chinese value. We don't want 'interfering' from others no matter we are powerful or not. At the same time, we tend not to interfere other countries whether we are powerful or not. There is a reason why the theme of the Beijing Olympics is 'HE'(harmony and peace). Also, this is exactly why we disapprove the behavior of the west, which is so fond of using its power to interfere. For you information, chinese want no less rights than others, and China will improve on its own terms. China has the right for self-determinatin. Bush happens to agree.

    "You are talking about badmouthing here."

    Yes, I'm talking about badmouthing. Constructive criticism is by all means welcome. But intentionally distortion and bashing is so easy to identify.

    "Well by saying this you are assuming everybody who critiscises China doesn't understand Chinese? As far as I know, that phrase is an observation as well as a reminder. Deny that if you want but that observation is still generally true now."

    No, I was suggesting you, who used that expression to accuse Chinese don't care about others, don't understand Chinese. That expression is from a quotation book written in Song Dynasty. Of course it's an observation as well as a reminder, which proves what I've said: it tells you what not to do. If you've ever heard the name ' Lei Feng', you will know that he is a national exemplar who has spent his life giving helping hands to others. Lei Feng spirit is promoted by modern China. Talking more about 'doesn't care about others', I don't feel much of careness in London, but I do feel it greatly in other part of UK. The metropolitan style is to blame. This is also true in China. If you only get to know the people in big cities in China or overseas, you will get the feeling that Chinese care less about others. But is that justified to Chinese in general?

    "What are you trying to suggest here? That we should all stop caring? Think about sweeping your own snow. Of course you are going to start saying things like conspiracies and all that. But if you have perfect human rights in China, the West would have one less 'conspiracy' tool in their hands."

    What I've suggested is simple enough: the international politics has nothing to do with 'caring about human rights', it's about interest. All the interefing only achieve one thing: put the interefered coutries in chaos or more misery. There is no use to proactively say the word 'conspiracy', it is a too obvious plot and therefore doesn't qualify as conspiracy.

    Are you suggesting that Chinese don't want perfect human rights? Society improves through time, I can't believe anyone won't be able to understand that. And "the West would have one less 'conspiracy' tool in their hands."" is so true, that is why the west is trying to use it as much as possible. Using human rights and whatever the reasons, to barter international trades and currency leverage, to sell arms to both sides of conflicts, to impose sanctions that robs more money and resources.

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  • 51. At 6:23pm on 12 Aug 2008, thebafosking wrote:

    re comment 6

    'Being a criticiser of everything, you could also take a minute and take on board some of the criticisms against you gracefully.'

    I quite agree. It would be lovely if some of you Chineses posters on these blogs would start gracefully taking on board the criticisms of your government and its human rights record instead of declaring us nasty 'foreigners' of being 'anti-Chinese' all the time...

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  • 52. At 6:30pm on 12 Aug 2008, TerryNo2 wrote:

    While I think that #28 was right when they said that in Britain we are quite used to talking down to our sporting bodies and Government, we need to make one important distinction: the comments here are being made by a BBC journalist in China about the Chinese people and the Chinese Government and the Chinese way of life.

    As a result, I would say that in such a situation a journalist has to rise to a certain level and not adopt a tone that, whilst acceptable in his own country, may not be acceptable to the majority of the people of the country he is reporting from, especially when the comments that are being made are not facts, but simply comment and "asides".

    I did cringe a little when I read the tone of the blog entry, since I felt it may have over-stepped the mark of being rather disrespectful, bearing in mind that it will be to a mixed Western/Chinese audience. This is a very fine line for a journalist to tread and I'm sure James does know this. I imagine the bigger question is whether he actually needs to be sensitive to the feelings of others and perhaps restrict sarcastic comment to an audience that understands it better?

    Having said that, his news reports for BBC TV News are actually not that bad !

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  • 53. At 7:57pm on 12 Aug 2008, AnonymousCalifornian wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 54. At 9:39pm on 12 Aug 2008, walkingfish99 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 55. At 11:59pm on 12 Aug 2008, Mariko2008 wrote:

    Now do you understand why people say Chinese culture is the most successful culture in the world? Our culture supported the largest population in the world, the Chinese still have the same blood flowing through their vines that originated from ancient times, we still speak the same language as our ancestors, and we still have those values (at least try to before Hollywood blows everything away) from those ancient times.


    It seems like "success" is a relative term!
    Just for future reference, talking about the "purity of blood" as a good thing will get you in trouble in other countries, especially in Europe. We've had enough troubles with nationalism (which is not patriotism) and the shocking belief that being pure of blood is something to be proud of. (Hint: Nazism)

    As for James. I read in the news that Yao Ming's coach asked him to be more aggressive when playing basketball. Yao Ming is known for his gentleness in the U.S. So I agree with you on that point.

    However, it's disappointing that you do not know as much as the Chinese bloggers about China's basketball history, especially since you wrote about it.

    I know that this is a blog and not a news report. But please keep in mind that even if this is a space to write your opinions and observences, we'd like to have facts.

    And I've only taken East Asian Studies (including Chinese history) and Mandarin in college and spent only a wee bit in Beijing, so people might chide me for not having talked to many "ordinary Chinese" but I've never felt (or read) that China was "too afraid or skeptical" (you misspelled there, unless that was British spelling) of American cultural influence. My teachers in China were afraid of American political influence but not of its cultural influence.

    I really wish you'd back up your statements James. I know this is just a blog and not a news report. But I hope to God that no one will ever quote you.

    Nice Bush-sighting by the way.

    Best,

    Mariko

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  • 56. At 01:02am on 13 Aug 2008, Jru430 wrote:

    RichChild #20
    'Being living in the Britain for the past 10 years have taught me how dangerous this coutry really is! And the danger is increasing rapidly! And the tax and social security systems are one of the worst I have ever seen! Now these are facts'

    No these are opinions, although being British I love irony so I still appreciate this post!

    I have enjoyed the blog, although the linking of the slam dunk with communism or culture in general seems a bit tenuous and reading too much into a sport for me. Surely there are the rules and you follow them, whatever style is most sucessful will evole to be played by all, but only if success is desired. However I have also really enjoyed these olympics so far and think that the chinese have done a great job hosting it and am very impressed.

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  • 57. At 01:24am on 13 Aug 2008, wonderfulchinese wrote:

    James.

    You surprise me again. You can even link the way basket ball was played with communism.

    What a British propoganda machine.

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  • 58. At 08:15am on 13 Aug 2008, John Bradford wrote:

    If you're going to write an article about 'slam dunk', it would be sensible to ensure your readers know what the expression means. What does 'slam dunk' mean'?

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  • 59. At 09:39am on 13 Aug 2008, eirczhao wrote:

    "Chinese players never used to slam dunk (unlike their counterparts in the American NBA, who made the slam their jaw-dropping, signature move). The slam was once seen in China as selfish, individualistic, and possibly even morally corrupt - therefore, entirely unsuitable for a diligent, loyal Communist. "
    You know why Chinese players did not use to slam dunk, it is for the reason of phisical strength. You never notice the fact that European white players do not slam dunk often, it is also for this reason. On the contrary, NBA players are very good at slamdunking. It is because they are black persons, and they have genetic advantages. Dunking stars like Michael Jordan, Kobe, James, Wade, etc are all black. So i mean your comment is not convincing, you always want something political from China, you are not objective enough.

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  • 60. At 10:51am on 13 Aug 2008, The Realist wrote:

    China is only interested in Basketball momentarily, it has been there for several decades and kind of flourished because as of yet they do not have the working football infrastructure.

    When the football infrastructure is in place, the nation will divert their attention towards competing for the FIFA World Cup because that is the only single event sport that carries great respect across the whole world, with Rugby and Cricket fighting it out for 2nd.

    Basketball, like NFL, Baseball and Ice Hockey do not have a high enough level of competition to be considered of extreme honour.

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  • 61. At 11:04am on 13 Aug 2008, iGlad wrote:

    Excuse me but who are the reigning Olympic champions not the USA team, who are just a bunch of overpaid egotistical, individualistic millionaires! So the Chinese don't slam dunk, who cares not me, they have their reasons be they cultural or political. I am looking forward to the Europeans beating the USA which gave me so much enjoyment in 2004. The NBA is not basketball it's showtime played by millionaires. As for eirczchao comments re black genetics thats a bit lame that argument otherwise the Chinese shouldn't have any top sprinters, powelifters, rowers etc as they are too small and too weak.

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  • 62. At 7:49pm on 13 Aug 2008, whinejunkie wrote:

    To # 55, Mariko2008 :
    “the Chinese still have the same blood flowing through their veins that originated from ancient times, we still speak the same language as our ancestors, and we still have those values from those ancient times.”

    The Chinese originated from the Hua Xia ethnic group which first settled in what is central western China of today, the small Xia kingdom was the first Chinese kingdom recorded in history. That was the ancient Chinese blood. When the Qin Chinese empire (the first Chinese empire some 2000 years ago) was established, it conquered what is the northern half of today’s China, excluding Tibet, the western Uighur Nation, and the nations north of the Great Wall. Ethic groups started to mix within the Empire.
    Then the Chinese conquered the southern ethnic groups who were more related to Vietnamese, and Thais to form what is today’s southern half of China. So the blood of today’s Chinese is different from that of the ancient Chinese.

    Only about half of today’s Chinese speak the official language (Putonghua) really fluently. Putonghua is really the native language of Beijing. Older Chinese speak their own native languages. There are about 200 native languages spoken in China. So Chinese do not speak the same language as their ancestors.

    Chinese values are based on Confucianism, which emphasizes on collectivism and obedience. Today’s Chinese still consciously or subconsciously believe in these values. So they still remain as how the Europeans were before Europe’s Age of Enlightenment of the 1600’s, as the Enlightenment introduced individual rational thinking to Europe.

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  • 63. At 06:29am on 14 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    When I learned basketball, the "dunk" was a rules violation, called "offensive goaltending." I expect that the Chinese learned the traditional game, and weren't so quick to adapt to the new style after the NBA rules changes.

    As far as I am concerned, the game has been ruined and isn't worth watching anymore.

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  • 64. At 2:43pm on 14 Aug 2008, RecluseBlake wrote:

    Learning to slam dunk?You'd better say this to Britain,who has long remained silent on the basketball court.And I wonder whether Britain has her own national basketball team!Just a look at her neighbours,to name a few here, France, Germany and Spain, and it's not difficult to find that Britain is way behind other European countries in this game.I don't know what excuses can Britain find for her weakness in this field.What's worse, I could hardly see any British natives(white people) who have made their names internatioanally as popular basketall stars. Obviously, it's a huge shame that Britain is outshined by his European counterparts in terms of basketball!As for China, well, to slam dunk is never a problem!We'll see more in the future,and Yao's accession into the NBA is merely a start.But I still see no hope in the prospects of Britain's basketball------

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  • 65. At 3:33pm on 14 Aug 2008, The_big_tamale wrote:

    Recluse what britain has to do with this? If we are to start talking about mediocre basketball teams we could mention almost 90% of the countries of the world.

    That bit that race makes a difference could be true, but it makes really no difference when you have a +1billion pool of people to pick from.

    About James comments on socialism... I have read it twice and my impression is that he wanted to be funny at the same time that he stated that the game has changed in China... overall he was being positive, but you guys are so prone to being offended that you just don't get it.

    Ohh and by the way... China is as communist as GB... They have a single party allright, but has been rapidly moving towards nationalism for the last decades and as of today they could be called more that than part of the socialist bloc.

    To finish I would like to remind you all that you can rant all that you like about his blog being non objective... I thought that IS the idea behind writing a blog, to write your own thoughts... thus being subjective.

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  • 66. At 5:45pm on 14 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    On the second topic, I fail to see how basketball is a metaphor for anything except the tendency of Americans to pander to popular taste when there is money to be made. The "dunk" used to be a rules violation, but it was legitimized because the crowd liked it.

    I'll stick with baseball. The same tendency exists there, but not to such an extent as to ruin the game.

    Do the keepers of cricket tinker with the rules now and then in an attempt to attract a wider audience?

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  • 67. At 5:47pm on 14 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Sorry, that post belonged on Justin Webb's blog.

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  • 68. At 7:58pm on 14 Aug 2008, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    What on earth is a 'slam-dunk' when it's at home ?? Perhaps Mr Reynolds should have explained this before making his entire piece dependent on understanding this...

    Just because many people use these asinine American sporting phrases like 'slam-dunk', 'rain-check', 'touch base', 'ball-park' and so forth in everyday language doesn't mean we all do !

    Explain yourself, dear boy...

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  • 69. At 10:16pm on 14 Aug 2008, Meilimolihua wrote:

    More references in the comments to James Reynolds' inability in Chinese. I really can't find any information for or against these accusations. Are they true??!

    The inquiries section of the bbc news website did reply to me - that they understood he didn't speak Chinese when he went and they assume he is learning now. That is no information at all, much progress can be made in two years.

    Maybe a post on the work-in-progress of Mandarin language learning, and thoughts on it?

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  • 70. At 04:59am on 15 Aug 2008, jezhumble wrote:

    @yetingsong, #30

    Totally off topic, but:

    Same goes for Egyptians, Babylon-eses, Ancient India, etc etc, has anything been successfully passed down relatively unchanged from those ancient civilisations? Are there anyone who still speak these ancient languages anymore?

    I would ask you to follow your advice and not talk about what you don't know. A form of Ancient Egyptian is still spoken by the Coptic minority in Egypt. Sanskrit is still spoken in India -- I learned some while I was there as I am learning Putonghua in Beijing.

    "it is generally recognised that China is the longest continuous culture surviving from ancient times" -- by whom? What does that statement even mean? Are you talking about archaeological evidence? Anthropology? How do you establish identity? I think there are plenty of historians from other countries who would disagree with your position.

    And don't imagine I am anti-China because I say this -- actually I am against all kinds of nationalism, and would not dream of attacking China. But saying on the basis of ignorance of other countries' history that yours is the best is just that -- ignorant.

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  • 71. At 6:37pm on 17 Aug 2008, anita425 wrote:

    James,
    "So, next time I go to an Olympic event, I'll take along my binoculars and see if I can spot China's President Hu Jintao sitting in the bleachers."

    I guess you missed women's table tennis team finals. Hu was there, in the bleachers.

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  • 72. At 00:52am on 20 Aug 2008, wookiedookie wrote:

    What I have learned from this is that there are some Chinese who are very touchy about anything that looks even slightly like criticism.

    I wonder if it is fair of them to vilify James for his ignorance of their culture (real or imagined) on a UK forum where such "criticism" is mild indeed.

    The same people seem to have an official version of history that is not open to debate. This deterministic view is something we have begun to grow out of in the west: we know that history is only one version of events (normally that of the winners).

    Is it perhaps they who are ignorant of western values? We are well used to critical evaluation of our own and others' behaviour, and don't take it personally.

    A diet of unalloyed praise is not really good for a country. Maybe the reason James associates China with communism is that that was the only diet communist leaders allowed their people.

    From the comments above it appears some Chinese have not yet flushed that poison out of their systems.

    And after 5,000 years you might think Chinese culture would be grown up enough take a joke.

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