The Beijing Games awakens the Chinese soul

Tomorrow, thank god, will see the back of the Olympics for another four years.

In Hong Kong – as in the rest of the world, no doubt – it’s been almost bloody impossible to escape from “The Games”.

The Games’ ubiquity has nearly driven me crazy: the TV channels and the local newspapers have been virtually taken over by it; images of the athletes, and The Games’ commercial sponsors and their products are plastered over all the bill-boards and posters; and The Games is the main (often, the only) topic of conver-sation.

Yet, of all the effects The Games has had on Hong Kong life, the most significant (in my view) is the way it has aided the rise of Chinese nationalism within Hong Kong’s Chinese population – something I first noticed with the arrival of the Olympic torch.

Let me be clear on this point: I don’t think it’s wrong or strange the Hong Kong Chinese are supporting and cheering the mainland Chinese athletes – in fact, I would think it strange if they didn’t; I just think the sudden apparent increase in intensity of support for any athlete wearing the Chinese flag is a development worthy of comment.

You see, when I first arrived in Hong Kong in 1995, most of the Chinese I worked with had a BNO passport. Some of them even applied for, and received, Australian or Canadian passports: I didn’t do a survey, but I gained the impres-sion the Hong Kong Chinese thought (at that time) they were different and separate from the mainland Chinese.

This impression was reinforced (perhaps, with hindsight, erroneously) after the 1997 handover when so much effort went into controlling and restricting the influx of mainlanders into Hong Kong.

However, I now realise the process of “reassimilation” of the Hong Kong Chinese is one of the logical and inevitable results of the British withdrawal from Hong Kong. I’m not suggesting the Beijing Games was the first step in this process – nor do I expect it to be the last – but I’m confident, when historians look back at these Games, they will credit it with awakening the Chinese soul within the Hong Kong Chinese heart.

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2 responses to “The Beijing Games awakens the Chinese soul

  1. I feel forced to agree with the initial sentiment, however I do think the athletic effort reigns supreme – as long as it is not drug-assisted nor the wretched synchronised drowning! My wife, a local HK Chinese, has however been as aware as myself of the Sino-biased coverage we have enjoyed. I guess we both expected it but beyond the real stars were there any other countries there? I am all ‘tongue in cheek’ as I write as in 2012 I may find a deserted island with no TV!

  2. Don’t get me wrong, I like sport – but my wife has stubbornly held onto the TV remote, so it’s been wall-to-wall Olympics for two weeks (there must be a moral here).
    But be tough! Hang in there! We just have to survive the “Chinese Gold Medal Winners carnival” this weekend – then we can rest and life can return to normal.

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