In the three months I’ve been working in this country, I’ve come to realize how complicated Chinese patriotism is.
It has manifested itself throughout this year: in the backlash against the Western news media for its coverage of the Tibetan conflict, in brawls between pro- and anti-China demonstrators as the Olympic torch relay passed through foreign cities, in the surge of volunteerism during the May earthquake, and in the rush to make Beijing presentable to the world before the Olympics.
When it comes to love of China, nothing is more representative these days than the feelings of Chinese toward the Olympics. I realized this when I interviewed a group of grieving parents recently in the earthquake zone. They were furious at local governments in Sichuan Province for not investigating why so many schools had collapsed. But they said they would not go to Beijing to protest until after the Olympics.
“We don’t want to get our nation into trouble,” said Gan Tingfu, whose 16-year-old daughter died alongside hundreds of classmates in the collapse of a high school in Juyuan.