Why the Chinese Need Olympic Glory

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2008 4:30 PM CDT
A Chinese student with a flag beats anti-Olympic protesters during a rally against the 2008 Beijing Olympics torch relay in Seoul, South Korea.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Those shocked by China’s bristly response to Olympic protests and criticisms would do well to remember some history, Orville Schell writes for the New York Review of Books. After what the Chinese call a "century of humiliation" at the hands of the West and Japan, the nation has developed an institutionalized paranoia and sense of injury that even a booming economy hasn't fixed. That's where the Olympics come in.

"In one grand, symbolic stroke, the Olympic aura promised to help cleanse China's messy historical slate, overthrow its legacy of victimization and humiliation, and allow the country to spring forth on the world stage reborn as the great nation it once had been" Schell writes. That's why the Chinese are so thin-skinned about criticism, and prone to see protesters as traitors attempting to steal their long-overdue glory. Don't expect that to change until they fully believe that they "already are, in fact, successful and powerful, and that the past is, in fact, the past."
(Read more China stories.)