I met up with a friend for coffee Saturday night, and our conversation quickly shifted to the Beijing Olympics. It’s hard not to talk about it, especially since we are both of Chinese descent. As the conversation progressed, we both came to the conclusion that Matt Lauer was incorrect when he said the opening ceremony made 1.3 billion Chinese proud. Truth is, there may be 1.3 billion Chinese citizens living in China, but there are a lot of us who don’t necessarily sing the Chinese anthem but are damn proud to call ourselves Chinese! The number of Chinese in this world is actually closer to 1.5 billion, at the very least.
I must admit I shed some tears watching the Opening Ceremony because I was so overwhelmed with joy and pride. Just to make sure I wasn’t completely biased, I checked with my friends who are non-Chinese, and they too told me they would be proud if they were Chinese. Then today, I saw this article from NYTimes, and it sums up my feeling and emotion pretty well. Here is an excerpt:
“No matter whether you support or oppose the Beijing government, we see the Olympics as an achievement for all the Chinese people everywhere,” said I-Der Jeng, editor of The China Press in New York, who was born in Taiwan of mainland parents and has lived in the United States since 1975.
Joe Lam, president of L3 Advertising who moved to New York 35 years ago from Hong Kong, said he watched the opening ceremony for the Olympics twice on Friday night, the second time with his daughters — ages 18 and 22 — who he said had little overt connection to Asia.
But watching the spectacle, with its blend of China’s ancient grandeur and dazzling modern technology, “was like a religious experience for them,” he said.
Mr. Lam said he was not a fan of the Communist Party, but, like many others, he noted the history that makes these Olympics resonate so deeply: 150 years of invasions and turmoil, from the Opium Wars to the Japanese invasion, civil war and the disastrous policies of Mao, which left China far behind the West.
“Our joy is not for Communists,” Mr. Lam said. “It’s for what hosting the Olympics means to the history of the Chinese people.”
Before this article appeared, I struggled to explain to people why I feel so deeply connected to the Olympics as to be overwhelmed with emotions simply by watching the Opening Ceremony. I think Helen Zia said it best, “All those years of China’s humiliation carried over to America, where Chinese kids grew up being taunted and bullied on the playground. Now when we see the home country shown in a positive light, we hope Americans will understand better where Chinese-Americans come from.”
Here is the link to the full article.