What was supposed to be a fierce competition between China and North Korea in weightlifting has become pretty lopsided, with North Korea winning the men's 56kg and 62kg. Who could have possibly been expecting that? I know I wasn't. North Korea now has 3 gold medals. The only countries with more are China and the US (France also has 3). Russia, South Korea, and Italy each have 2. Australia and Japan each only have 1. I guess North Korea is off to a fast start in these Olympics, the cause of which can of course be attributed to the country's dear leader:
“The secret is nothing but the support and encouragement from our supreme leader chairman Kim Jong Un, because he expects so much from all our athletes, and he expects the highest performance from all our athletes. That’s the secret,” Kim said.
I'm sure the chairman must be over the moon.
Duncan Hewitt at Newsweek/The Daily Beast has written a good synopsis of the current tensions between Chinese nationals and foreign expats. It's worth a read, although it's pretty simple; if you're a foreigner living in China, make sure you have a valid visa and proper housing documents. Two highlights:
It’s evidence of what many of China’s foreign residents and visitors know well—that it’s not uncommon to be defined, even to one’s face, by one’s ethnicity: “When I’m taking my child for a walk in the lanes near our house in Beijing, people will often point and say, look, a laowai—a foreigner,” says Bell. It is, he suggests, something one gets used to, and he adds that the best solution is often to make a joke of the situation: “Sometimes I just turn round and look behind me, as if to see where they’re pointing,” he adds, “and then everyone starts laughing.”
It was good to read this because that's exactly how I handle similar situations. Every time I hear a kid say to his parents a foreigner just walked by, I generally look around, say to the kid, "Ni Hao," and watch the kid look up quizzically at his parents as they laugh along with me.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that foreigners have often been seen in China not just as individuals, but also as representatives of their countries—or, indeed, of the entire outside world. Some have argued that this applies particularly if they have done something bad—not least because of the emphasis on the crimes visited upon China by foreigners during and after the Opium Wars of the 19th century, which have formed a major part of China’s “patriotic education” curriculum over the past two decades. Thus the alleged British assailant in Beijing and the Russian cellist on the train were widely depicted not just as individuals doing something wrong, but as symbols of how bad foreigners could be and the threat they could pose.
This is exactly why I cringe when I see or read about foreigners acting badly. It's not just a reflection on them; its a reflection on all foreigners, including me. There has been more than one time when we've seen an incredibly drunk foreigner at a club making an ass out of himself and getting on the nerves of the Chinese around him and we've either escorted him out of the club or brought him to our table to get him away from the Chinese tables that would have otherwise probably stabbed him as soon as he left the club for trying to hit on their girls.
Duncan does make light of the reversal of this in the following paragraph though:
But sociologist Yiyi says such attitudes work the other way, too—she notes that Chinese media recently also played up incidents where foreigners had rescued Chinese citizens from drowning and from attacks. “Suddenly the media were saying that foreigners were more public-spirited than Chinese people,” she says. “We’re still just too quick to generalize,”
That's perhaps the reason I jumped on top of the taxi driver on the ground to protect him from the kicking and punching Chinese mafia members who had just seconds before drunkenly backed their BMW into his taxi. I was being 'public-spirited' and ended up getting my jaw kicked in because of it.
That's a whole other story that I'll try to tell before the end of this week.
I leave you with Germany vs China in the Hong Kong metro.
China's off to a fast start, with their first ever golds in swimming in addition to golds in shooting and weightlifting. The men's gymnastic team is not looking too good though (and the Chinese women just lost to South Korea in archery). They must have been eating too many vegetables, just like the Chinese woman's volleyball team.
Sun Yang propped himself up on the lane rope, posed for the cameras and let out a big roar as he pounded his fists into the water. It was the start of a big night for a Chinese swimming team that is developing into a major power.
It was a rough opening night in the pool for defending Olympic champions, above all a certain Michael Phelps, but it was a historic night for the Chinese.
China and Japan slipped up again and again in qualifying, finding themselves tumbling from the high bar, falling off the pommel horse and stumbling on the floor exercise. At the end of the night, both teams slipped on the leader board, too. Japan plummeted to fifth out of eight advancing teams; China was sixth.
“One of our competitors was a substitute, so he lacked experience,” said China’s Chen Yibing, as he tried to explain his team’s shaky performance.
Chinese fireworks lit up the London 2012 opening ceremony and China's young table tennis stars are expected to rise to the task of taking every gold, although rivals hope the pressure could lead to an upset...
"It's very, very difficult to beat the Chinese. They don't just prepare for the Olympics for one or two years, they prepare for the four years with their training system," said Australian Miao Miao after winning her first round match on Saturday.
“They have showed significant decline in their strength and fitness” coach Yu Juemin said of his squad after Sunday's defeat to the US. “We are wary of meat tainted by lean-meat powder, and we didn't eat any during the game period,” Yu told the Shanghai Daily newspaper...
All Chinese athletes have been warned by the country's Sports Ministry to avoid meat contaminated with the powder, also known as clenbuterol, because it's banned by the International Olympic Committee as a performance-enhancing substance.
China bans the use of clenbuterol in livestock because of the chemical's noxious long-term effects on human health, but many pork farmers still administer it because it produces leaner meat. The World Anti-Doping Agency issued a warning last year about clenbuterol-tainted meat in China as well as Mexico, where it is also rampant.
As a result, the Chinese volleyball team only eats meat at its training camp, where the food can be tested for contamination. When players go elsewhere in the country, they have to forego pork, beef and lamb — as they did in the lead-up to the volleyball World Grand Prix finals tournament.
Thanks NBC - I was totally starting to worry I wasn't going to see enough Ryan Seacrest during these Olympics
Viewers tuning into the opening ceremony of the Olympics are probably doing so because they want to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Thus, if you're the exclusive broadcaster of the Olympics, you probably have a responsibility to those viewers to broadcast the opening ceremony as faithfully to its original form as you can.
A few commercial breaks into NBC's London opening ceremony coverage, I made a comment to my mother that the great thing about watching the opening ceremony in 2008 on Chinese TV was the lack of commercial breaks. The ceremony was broadcast live and nonstop (as I'm sure it was again this year). While watching last night, I thought, "no worries, at least I get to watch, though tape delayed, all of the opening ceremony."
Turns out I didn't even get that.
NBC not only failed to air an entire performance (a performance which by all accounts was one of the most emotional of the night), but the network instead aired in its place a throw away Ryan Seacrest interview with Michael Phelps.
I didn't tune into the opening ceremony to watch 2 minutes of commercials every 10 minutes. I didn't tune into the opening ceremony to watch yet another Michael Phelps interview that could have easily been aired another time. I didn't tune into the opening ceremony to watch Ryan Seacrest. I didn't tune into the opening ceremony to not watch what may have been the best performance of the night and may have been a tribute to victims of the 7/7 terrorist attack.
I tuned into the opening ceremony to do only one thing: watch the opening ceremony... the ENTIRE opening ceremony,
All I want as a viewer is to have some assurance and trust that what I am seeing on the screen is an accurate depiction of what is happening in the stadium, which is something it turns out you cannot provide. I no longer trust any of your Olympic coverage.
A sad viewer
So what should I do for the next Olympic opening ceremony? Well, if I'm in China I'll simply watch CCTV5's non-stop, faithful coverage. If I'm in the US?
I woke up to the Olympic bicycle road race on TV. No Americans on the podium, but I was very happy for Vino. 39 year old Alexander Vinokourov won the gold in what might be the last competitive event of his career. Good to see.
Next, I switched the channel to Mexico competing against South Korea in the men's team archery competition. It was only 30 seconds in that I learned this was the third place event and the Americans had just upset the hugely favored Korean team. The Koreans went on to beat Mexico and then in the gold metal match, the Americans lost by one point to the Italians. It was a good effort but the Americans hit too many 8s in the first few rounds. It came down to the last Italian archer; a 10 would win, a 9 would tie and lead to a shoot out, and an 8 would lose it for them. The Italian archer shot a 10. Congrats to the Italian team on gold and also to the American team for their upset of the South Koreans and for winning America's first metal of the games.
For the first time in quite a while, yes:
China's formula for success was to take an all-arounder like defending Olympic champion Yang Wei and surround him with specialists, gymnasts who are spectacular on an event or two. When teams had six members, there was more than enough talent to cobble a powerhouse together.
But Yang retired after Beijing and, with teams reduced to five gymnasts for the London Olympics, China is struggling to adapt. That was evident at Wednesday's training, when they had only three gymnasts to put up on floor exercise, vault and still rings. Only three scores count in both prelims and team finals, but it's taking a big risk not having someone who can step in as a last-minute fill-in.
So many interesting story lines. I'm just realizing how excited I'm starting to get for the Olympics.
This is how Chen Weihua of the China Daily responded to Senator Harry Reid over the US Olympic team made-in-China opening ceremony attire controversy:
Reid's solution would be to turn the 8.2 percent of the population that are jobless into hardworking garment workers. At least that is what the 72-year-old Democratic senator from Nevada seemed to be suggesting last week after learning that Team USA will be going to the 2012 London Olympics wearing Ralph Lauren uniforms that were made in China.
Perhaps the Democrats should introduce another bill that requires all Senators to set an example and wear made-in-the-USA from top to bottom in order to demonstrate their patriotism. However, if it came into law today, most, if not all, would find themselves going around naked and barefoot.
Senator Reid's so-called patriotism is actually rather unpatriotic. He wants to revive the economy by restoring the labor-intensive garment industry in the US, which means he wants the US to take a step backwards and join the ranks of developing economies, such as China, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam, the big labor-intensive garment producing nations of the Third World.
Ice cream and a chocolate chip cookie brownie. Boulder, Colorado
This from Deadspin about Egyptian Olympians and their Chinese knockoff Nike outfits:
...the Egyptian Olympic Committee appears to have outsourced that responsibility to the lowest bidder, because all 117 Egyptian Olympians were given counterfeit Nike gear. What's worse, they've had to pay out of their own pockets to replace it...
"The bags for example have big nike logo in the front and the zippers are adidas...
I feel bad for the Egyptian athletes that are having to buy all new clothing because of this.
A soft landing achieved and a new municipality christened.
In a report Wednesday on its website, the IMF praised China’s leaders for adjusting policies to help counter the malaise plaguing the global economy that has also slowed robust growth in China and other emerging nations.
“China’s economy seems to be undergoing a soft landing, though global headwinds are increasing,” said the report, issued after IMF consultations with Beijing.
China's newest city is a remote island in the South China Sea barely large enough to host a single airstrip. It has a post office, bank, supermarket and a hospital, but little else. Fresh water comes by freighter on a 13-hour journey from China's southernmost province.
Welcome to Sansha, China's expanding toehold in the world's most disputed waters, portions of which are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and other neighbors. On Tuesday, as blustery island winds buffeted palm trees, a new mayor declared Sansha to be China's newest municipality.
In February I wrote a post titled, "Does Mountain Lion signal a monumental shift in the exposure of Chinese social networks in the West?"
I received a comment from someone saying, "the Chinese social sites are quite obviously not going to show up to Western users. Sorry."
Here we are months later, Mountain Lion has been released and in every version no matter the location, directly under the likes of Twitter, Vimeo, and Flickr are Youku, QQ, and Tudou.
As Americans, we have only known a computing world where the bundled software and integrated social/video services on our devices are American-based or at least used by a very large American audience. This has not been the case in other parts of the world, where these same American-based services may not be dominate but have been integrated into the device anyway (Twitter integration on Chinese iPhones... really?). This is the first time (I believe) that social/video services based in a foreign country and not used by an American user base has been integrated into a Western platform.
And it seems to be jarring for some. I just had an American friend who knows I live in China contact me asking what these Chinese social platforms are and why they are now on his Mountain Lion computer. "Yeah, but why would Apple include them on American-sold computers if no one here uses them?" he asked.
There's a new dominate electronics market in the world and for the first time its importance is such that Americans are experiencing an integration of foreign ecosystems on their devices firsthand.
Anyway, anyone having the same reaction as my friend? Is anyone very surprised to see Chinese social network options on their computer?
By the way, my prediction still stands: the new iPhone will initially be released in the US and China only (plus possibly one or two other throwaway countries).
The idiots I'm referring to are Olympic officials who don't know the difference between The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North) and Republic of Korea (South). The North Korean women's football team ended up refusing to take the field for an hour after they were introduced using the South Korean flag.
From The New York Times:
Late last year, Cosmopolitan editors in China started splitting its monthly issue into two magazines because it was too thick to print. Elle now publishes twice a month because issues had grown to 700 pages. Vogue added four more issues each year to keep up with advertising demand. Hearst is even designing plastic and cloth bags for women to easily carry these heavy magazines home.
The magazine company is having to design special cloth bags just so women are able to carry around these huge magazines. Think about how crazy that really is.