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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

China's Olympics euphoria tempered by Tibet riots, quake losses

June 20, 2008

Special report: 2008 Olympic Games
www.chinaview.cn  (PR China)
June 19, 2008

BEIJING, June 19 (Xinhua) -- The Tibet riots and last month's deadly
earthquake have changed the Chinese people's outlook on the Olympics
from one of innocent enthusiasm to a more sober and measured attitude.

Hu Jianqiu, a 43-year-old Olympic volunteer who is to drive for
foreign sports officials, admitted that his initial reason for
applying to work for the Olympics was out of passion.

"This might be the only Olympic Games I experience in my own
country," he said. When chosen, he felt extremely proud, as he
believed hosting the Games marked China's emergence as a leading nation.

But the riots in Lhasa and the disaster in Sichuan brought him down
to Earth. He realized that some problems, diplomatic and economic,
faced the country," he said.

Now, 50 days ahead of the Games, Hu said his hopes were more modest:
he wanted only to fulfill his task successfully. "I am still looking
forward to the event, but with less fervor," he said. He will attend
a security training course this weekend.

In Qingdao, in eastern Shandong Province, Yuan Zhiping, an official
with the Sailing Committee of the Beijing Organizing Committee for
the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, went through similar psychological
changes over the past few months.

"I know now that we can't force others to think like we do," he said.
"Of course we hope more people could come, just like the owner of a
new apartment who is eager to invite neighbors to visit.

"But friends could be close or distant. If you come, we sincerely
welcome you. If you don't, that's your choice."

BROADER ATTITUDINAL CHANGES

Their views mirrored broader changes in China after this year's
natural and political events.

After the March 14 riot in Lhasa, the coverage of many foreign media
organizations disappointed Chinese people.

"Ideological and political differences have always been a gap between
China and Western countries and we should remain cool-headed," said
Liu Jiangyong, a professor with the Institute of International
Studies of the Tsinghua University in Beijing. "Chinese people should
learn to accept different voices calmly."

The earthquake on May 12 that claimed nearly 70,000 lives taught many
people a different lesson.

The Olympics torch relay was simplified and the routes shortened in
many cities after the earthquake, and mourning events were added.

Lin Qiang, vice inspector of the Sichuan provincial educational
department, requested the province's organizing committee for the
Olympic torch relay to disqualify him as a torch bearer.

"As an educational administrator, I bear special, though not direct,
responsibility toward those innocent children and their parents and
relatives. I feel profoundly apologetic to them. So I have to reject
the honor of relaying the Olympic torch as atonement," he said.

The quake toppled about 7,000 schools, killing thousands of students.

Many netizens proposed having surviving children light the cauldron
at the Olympics opening ceremony.

"The torch itself is neutral, but people attach different meanings to
it, pride or protest ... China had been trying to declare to the
world that it bade farewell to darkness and was surging," said
veteran journalist Hu Yong, who proposed the plan, on his blog.

"After the quake, China doesn't need to show its growth and
friendliness to the whole world, but should let people see the
dignity of human beings and how they helped each other amid
difficulty," he wrote.

"Now the Chinese view the Olympics from a more sensible perspective.
It is not merely a carnival, but a symbol for peace, hope and
condolences," said an editorial in the Chinese-language U.S. Qiaobao.

PREPARED FOR UPS AND DOWNS

"These events served to cool people's blind optimism," said
XiaXueluan, a sociologist at Beijing University.

The crises had prepared people for adversity, he noted. "Rather than
superficial work, they could be more down to Earth and focus on real
problems. After all, the Olympiad is not our sole task."

"China can't depend on a sports event to change its fortunes," said
Lu Xueyi, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"We have only come so far after 30 years of reform and opening up,
and we have to continue engaging the rest of the world in our
development," he said. "The stormy events have allowed us to calm
down and reassess, and we are more broad-minded, more sensible and
better prepared."

However, the psychological changes don't mean that China will
downplay the importance of the Olympics, said the sailing committee's Yuan.

"Hosting a successful Olympic Games would encourage people in the
quake zones," he said. "We will treat it seriously as always."

In a meeting convened last Friday, top Chinese leaders urged people
to understand the significance of hosting a successful Olympics, to
display heroic spirits, particularly after the earthquake, and to
make efforts to be an excellent host.

"No matter what difficulties and challenges we face, we should
conform to the aspirations of the people of all ethnic groups and
fulfill our promise to the world to host a good Beijing Olympics," a
meeting document stated.

"We should work even harder and be more meticulous in the preparatory
work to ensure that the Games are distinctive and of a high
standard," it said.
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