Keane Shum: Why the Games Bring Out Ugly Side of the Chinese

Keane Shum, a young Australian of Chinese background who is studying in the United States and is currently working in China for the Olympics, writes in the Age:

The slogan for the Beijing Olympics is “One World, One Dream”. It is plastered in huge print on billboards across China, but no one can tell me which “one dream” it is that we are all supposed to be chasing. And as the nation fires up its Games preparations, it’s also starting to look less like we all come from the same “one world”.

I am working in Beijing for the summer. More than anything else, this is because I wanted to be here for the Olympics. I wanted to be a part of what is supposed to be a seminal moment for my people. My parents are Chinese originally from Hong Kong and Indonesia who migrated to Australia in the 1960s. I was born in Sydney. I have never lived in mainland China full-time and may never do so, but because I am Chinese, what happens in China happens to me. Ethnicity runs deep in this country, among its people, and across the oceans of our diaspora. I want China to win the most gold medals. I want Chinese brands sold in American department stores.

But in the past six months, has started to scare me. I was shocked at how fiercely young Chinese fought back against Tibet supporters. I have been saturated by the Chinese media’s self-congratulatory glorification of the response to an earthquake that should not have killed 70,000 people. As I get the chance to work on the Olympics and watch them, I am not elated, as the Chinese Government tells me to be, but, instead, disappointed.

July 30, 2008 8:39 AM
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