chinese · news n politics · personal · rants

First time watching the Olympics as a U.S. citizen

Citizenship vs. Nationality

Nationality:

Membership of a nation in the sense of ethnic group (a group of people who share a common ethnic identity, language, culture, descent, history, and so forth). This meaning of nationality is not defined by political borders or passport ownership.

Citizenship:

Citizenship is determined by jus soli, jus sanguinis, or naturalization, which affords the state jurisdiction over the person and affords the person the protection of the state. The most common distinguishing feature of citizenship is that citizens have the right to participate in the political life of the state, such as by voting or standing for election.

This is the first time for me to watch the Olympics since becoming an Amercian citizen in 2009. This allows me to view the Olympics from prespectives I never had before. I simply realized that citizenship DOES NOT equal nationality. The decision to become an U.S. citizen was really a practical one for me. I was a greencard holder/permanent resident alien prior to becoming a citizen. For me, the biggest reasons to become a citizen instead of a permanent resident are:

  • I do not wish to pay the U.S. government a significant amount of money to renew my greencard every ten years.
  • I do not wish to pay the Chinese government money to renew my Chinese passport every five years.
  • I do wish to vote in the U.S.

I never really thought much about nationality. The truth is obvious since I started to watch the Olympics that just because I’m technically an American citizen doesn’t mean I feel 100% like a natural born American. After I heard much bad news regarding the Chinese men’s gymnastic team’s qualification round performance, I felt disappointed and was not expecting them to do well in the final round. However, after I found out they won the gold medal, I was EXCITED to watch their performance on the premiere time NBC programming. I told my husband who’s a naturally born American that I was excited about the Chinese winning the gold, he asked how did the Amercians do. Truthfully I did not pay attention. I said I don’t know and he remarked “Did you want to change your citizenship back?” I was hurt by the comment.  I dug deeper as why I felt that way. I guess it’s because he was suggesting that I was disloyal to the country of my citizenship. Then I suddenly realized why people as famous as Maria Sharapova never changed their citizenship. None of the practical reasons for me (maybe except the last) to become a U.S. citizenship is really applicable in Maria’s case. She wants to align her citizenship with her nationality so she wouldn’t feel split when it comes to matches where she represents more than just herself.

This however doesn’t mean I’m not proud of Americans. It’s when the Chinese and Americans go head to head, my heart still goes to the Chinese. Will this feeling ever change naturally? Only time will tell.

Medal Count Rant

So much of the medal count competition is purely political. China claims the rest of the world except U.S. order medals by number of gold, silver and then bronze. This may have some truth as I see that’s how they were ordered on google. I can tell U.S. is getting some pressure regarding this since Bob Costas has to mention the comparison in the number of golds as well as the total now.  Although it would not mean a difference how you order the medals this year, either way U.S. is #1 in medal counts. It’s the 2008 Olympics where this was a huge debate.

Badminton Drama

Eight women were disqualified from the doubles tournament in this Olympics.

Why did this happen? From a technical perspective the Chinese wanted to maximize their chance of winning both the gold and silver medals. The way Badminton works in the Olympics is that you’d play earlier rounds to decide your seeding in the knockout stages.  The knockout stages start with quaterfinals. You get one shot and you are out. Each country may only enter two teams for each badminton event. This rule was added recently as more or less an anti-China affirmative action rule. China has traditionally dominated this sport since it became official in the Olympics so in order to give other countries a fair chance of medaling, each country may now only enter two teams. In the group stage of this year’s women’s double, one of the Chinese teams unexpected lost. This lowered their seeding so instead of meeting the other Chinese team in the finals, they would have met each other in the semifinal. In order to maintain the seeding to allow the two teams to meet in the final, the other team must also lose a match.  I did not look deep into the Korean team’s motivation for also wanting to lose that match. It’s possible that the Koreans just did not want the Chinese to get what they want. I really don’t know. But the result was both teams made it EXTREMELY obvious that they both tried to lose the match.

I was furious and disgraced when I watched the throw away match.  Even after I learned its motivation, I still believe it was fundamentally wrong.  But I want to entertain different perspectives in this story.

First, is there nothing wrong with the badminton tournament system that would encourage such match losing “strategy”? Should we question the design of the system as how & why would anyone GAIN from losing?

Second, are the players purely to blame for such acts of disgrace?  To tell you the truth, I find it extremely hard to believe that the players WANTED to lose a match they trained all of their career to win. I researched by reading many Chinese online articles on this topic.  The articles complained that it’s the Chinese coach 李永波’s “tradition” to execute such game losing strategies. Because he wants to show that he is the medal winning coach. Many badminton players previously had left the team due to the fact they were told to lose matches on purpose to work the system.  From a political point of view, China will never admit that they were trying to gain advantage by working the system.  If they actually do get political pressure for such acts, I can see them firing the coach and using him as a scapegoat.  So the players may be doing the losing for two major reasons.  They may have  truly believed they were being patriotic. They did it to help China to win the gold and silver medals in the event. Such brainwashing in China is quite commonplace and easy to understand.   On the other hand, they may have done it in the hope to expose such “corruption” in the system and coach to help putting it to an end.

Gymnastics (China’s torture)

Someone on my facebook friends list recently shared a photoshoped photo from this article from a facebook group titled “Some Amazing Facts”. The author of “Some Amazing Facts” photoshoped three of the worst photos from that article and then that photoshoped version spread all over facebook. People who don’t bother reading the original article would comment stuff like “China should be stripped out of all of its gymnastics medals for such torture!” Well, I went a little above and beyond the average facebook users and did some critial thinking. First we start with 1+1=2. Let’s examine the origin of these photos. They came from The Daily Mail. The Daily Mail is a CONSERVATIVE, British daily middle-market TABLOID newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. Oh you mean those publications with gigantic ugly celebrity photos on the newsstands you try to ignore while waiting at a grocery store checkout line? But HOLY SHIT! Once the source photos are photoshoped into one and shared under a facebook group titled “Some Amazing Facts”, how can you question its authenticity? So now we know these photos are at best questionable but knowing China, I would not be surprised if the photos are authentic. The truth is the parents of these children are well aware of the amount of discipline it takes for their children to succeed and are willing to go through the scarifice. Just because no American/Western culture will understand or accept this doesn’t mean it’s TORTURE. Discipline is a part of China’s thousands year old culture. Right? Wrong? This is purely a question to the civilization. Slavery was socially accepted until the civil rights movements, right? Read the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother to get more extreme examples. A basic example of discipline would be that all Chinese students have summer homework and they actually DO THEM. There are many other photos of happy children in that article which were completely unshown on the facebook group because the facebook group is basically promoting a campaign. They are showing ads for the message “China is unworthy of medals! Look at all of the tortured kids!” which reminds me of the anti-abortion campaign “Abortion is bad! Look at all of the mangled fetuses!”

Table Tennis

Table tennis is definitely one of the sports I miss dearly after moving to the U.S. To be able to watch it on a world stage is a great treat. While watching these matches, I’ve noticed something obvious. A lot of smaller countries seem to have Chinese “export” players to represent their countries. While I was watching the women’s quarter final between China’s Li Xiaoxia and Netherlands’ Li Jiao, I noticed during the breaks the conversation between the coaches and players on BOTH SIDES were in Chinese. I found that rather ironic. I suppose from a business prespective it makes sense. Why bother raising a table tennis player from scratch when it’s easier economically to allow an older Chinese player to be an immigrant to represent your country? I do not know if any money has been exchanged in such immigration process. I’m sure it’s attractive to many Chinese table tennis players to go through such immigrations. After all, you are constantly being replaced by younger and better players in China. The “career” in the sport of ping pong in China must be pretty short. So if you want to remain a ping pong player all of your life, I can see the better alternative is to go to a different country. That’s why often the Chinese players representing other coutries are older. That being said, I highly question the alignment of patriotism in these older players. Even if their skills allow them, do they really want to win and hinder their mother country’s chance of getting the medals? I wonder…

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