Olympics-China Media Watch: The farmer’s fuel and the emperor’s clothes

Even with the world enthralled in the drama of the Olympic Games, the more basic struggles in the rest of China continue to quietly unfold.

Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis Daily) today published a long article with little apparent connection to the Olympics, a rarity these days. It is actually re-posted from Zhejiang Daily, and tells the story of a farming family that grows vegetables near the city of Hangzhou who are having trouble this year because of the rising costs of production, including the cost of seeds, fertilizer, and fuel for the tractor.  

“Without plowing the earth, the vegetables won’t grow,” said farmer Wang Guokui.

The main headline on the Web site of the rest of the Southern Media Group is more typical, giving second-day coverage of hurdler Liu Xiang’s painful exit from the race: “We love gold medals, we love you more.” It’s sweet. The New York Times reports that it’s also state-mandated; propaganda officials have told news outlets to keep the tone sympathetic, lest rage at the fallen athlete provoke a nasty scene. Xinhua News Agency, voice of the State Council, published an open letter from Liu to his supporters in which he apologized for the disappointment.  

I didn’t see any evidence of rage toward the stymied Olympian in a brisk stroll through the Chinese Web today. But I did find a blog post on Bullog reflecting on his clothes. Yes, his track uniform. A blogger departs from his native language to call it “fugly”:

Why did they have to give him such a fugly uniform? Does the person who takes care of these things hate him?