Olympics-China Media Watch: Glory, disappointment, and reflection

Just as American audiences have been fixated on the performances of Michael Phelps during the Olympic Games, Chinese viewers have been anticipating the heroics of hurdler Liu Xiang. So his dropping out of the 110-meter race today with an injury was the headliner at major news outlets. Photographs of his anguished coach and shocked commentaries of his loving fans led the Web.

Still, there was plenty to celebrate. Chinese athletes won another eight gold medals today, sparking a new round of commentary and debate on what China’s dominance in the gold-medal race means about its position in the world.

David Bandurski at Hong Kong University’s China Media Project translates an opinion piece about the “Olympics Cold War” at the Web forum QQ. Commentator Liao Baoping says that China’s centralized system of support for Olympic athletes is responsible for its success, not simply its economic growth. While proud of his country’s advances, Liao looks forward to a time when athletics are developed among a broad swath of Chinese society, not just its Olympians.

Another worry has expressed itself as a pun. The title of the opening ceremony’s song “You and Me” sounds like the words for oil and rice in Chinese, and some have used this coincidence to wonder about rising prices. Nanfang Dushi Bao recounts the joke, then provides expert commentary arguing that the Olympics are not likely to be a watershed event that changes the Chinese economy in any real way. The economy will continue its growth, Wang Yiming predicts.