China celebrates ‘huge prestige bonanza’ of Olympics

August 25th, 2008 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 25 (DPA) China Monday celebrated the Beijing Olympics as a “glorious success”, while rest of the world saw the Games as a demonstration of the potential of an aspiring global power.”China secured its position as a world power with the Olympic Games in Beijing,” the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun said in a commentary at the end of the 16-day sporting extravaganza.

Chinese state-guided media also saw the successful hosting of the Games as an indication of the Asian nation’s newly won strength.

“Most Olympic Games so far have been staged in the developed countries, but China has shown it can do it as well if not not better,” the officials news agency Xinhua said.

Human rights organisations, however, took a different view, saying that China’s government blatantly used the Games to realize its political goals.

The fact that China topped the list of gold medallists was seen by the country’s ruling State Council as an “historic breakthrough” and a new chapter in the development of sport in China.

But some Chinese commentators were more sober in their evaluation.

Han Qiaosheng, a well-known sports expert, wrote in the newspaper Xinjingbao that China still had deficits in team ball sports.

The gap between China and US, which was dethroned from its position at the top of the medals table in Beijing, remains in swimming and track and field where the host nation won only eight medals, one of them gold.

Xinjingbao said the Games had “by far exceeded the expectations” of the International Olympics Committee (IOC).

“Beijing was the best Olympic host of the past century,” enthused another newspaper, Beijing Qingnianbao.

“First-class facilities, first-class organization - that is what is being said about the Games in Beijing,” wrote the English-language China Daily.

The paper said the Games were the “historic climax” of three decades since China opened itself to the West. It was also an opportunity for the world to view China with different eyes.

Japan’s Nikkei daily said China’s climb to the top of the gold medals table probably reflected its rise as a major economics power.

“But it was also noticeable that China did not do as well when it comes to human rights, press freedom and democratization,” Nikkei said.

According to Sharon Hom, executive director of the Hong Kong-based Human Rights in China (HRIC), “the carefully orchestrated facade could not conceal a police state that tramples on human rights”.

The New York Times said China’s Communist Party leadership deserves “the final gold medal - for authoritarian image management”.

“Beijing got what it wanted out of this globally televised spectacular. It reaped a huge prestige bonanza that it will surely use to promote its international influence and, we fear, further tighten its grip at home,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

It pocketed these gains without offering any concessions in return, the newspaper said. When it increased repression rather than loosening up “a supine International Olympic Committee barely offered a protest.”

Most world leaders, including US President George W. Bush, who was among the 80 heads of state and government that took part in the opening ceremony, “were nearly as complicit”, the editorial added.

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