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  1. 1. Chazal Aurélie Major : Eco Université Blaise Pascal Beijing Olympics : A modern country built on strong traditional values The 2008 Olympics held in Beijing are often considered to be the event showing to theWorld the power of modern China. But it was also a really good medium for the country tointroduce its traditional culture as the event was broadcasted worldwide. I chose this topic because Iwas not studying Chinese yet when the Olympics took place and they therefore represent my firstreal glance at Chinese Culture. I remember following the event on TV and being really impressedby the the organisation as well as all the efforts made by China to giver a good image of thecountry. After studying Chinese and living for a few month in China I find it really interesting totalk about the Olympics as they represent at the same time Chinese proudness about their countrytraditional culture and modernity and fast development. It is also a really good way to learn moreabout Chinese symbols as everything from the date of the event to the logo have a meaning forChinese people. First of all, the year of the Olympics was a happy coincidence as the number 8 is the luckiestnumber in China as it sounds like growth with prosperity. The opening ceremony began at 8:08:08pm on the 8th of August, but at the same time thousands of couples were also getting married bothbecause of the number 8 and the fact that the first Olympics held in China were a once in a lifetimeevent celebrating the greatness of the country. The time was perfect but the opening ceremony alsohad to live up to the expectations. The preparations were hold secretly and the famous Chinese filmdirector, Zhang Yimou. The show offered during the ceremony mixed traditional Chinese cultureand high tech. The ceremony began with Confucius saying : "Friends have come from afar, howhappy we are." and ancient percussion instruments performers called the Fous. Zhang Yimouexplained he wanted to build the show around Chinese history but also wanted to keep it simple so
  2. 2. Chazal Aurélie Major : Eco Université Blaise Pascalthat people from all over the world could get the message. China clearly showed its will to welcomeforeigners and make them discover Chinese culture. The idea of harmony was also conveyedthroughout the ceremony by the appearance of the ancient Chinese character 和. Harmony is really important to Chinese people and find its root on Confucius idea ofhumanism. The slogan of the Olympics : «One world, one dream» also refers to a united andharmonious world. The concept behind the slogan stick to the value of the Olympic games whichare supposed to be a moment of sharing and competing fairly between all the countries in theWorld, putting all wars and tensions aside. «One world, one dream» also reflects the three conceptsadopted for the Beijing Olympics : «Green Olympics, High Tech Olympics and Peolple’sOlympics». China here shows its will to develop and still respect the environment even there is stilla lot of work to do in that matter. The Olympics were a way to show the World that progress arebeing made by the government towards the protection of the environment, by using green cars anddeveloping environmental friendly installations for the Olympic village. Those efforts for a greenerChina reminds us that Chinese people have always had a strong connection with nature as we cansee with the Feng shui concept still followed by the population in their daily life. The goal ofdeveloping Green Olympics was to show the World the efforts made but also to raise the populationawareness towards this matter. We also find representation of Nature in the mascots of the Olympics or the «Fuwa» whichare full of ancient Chinese symbols following Chinese tradition to spread good wishes throughoutsymbols. Each mascot represent a natural element, an animal, an Olympic ring and together theysymbolise unity and harmony. They each have a name formed by riming two syllables names :Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini, if we take the first syllable of each name we havethe sentence : «Beijing huan ying ni» which means «Beijing welcomes you» in Chinese.
  3. 3. Chazal Aurélie Major : Eco Université Blaise PascalBlue Olympic ring Black Olympic ring Yellow Olympic ring Green Olympic ring Red Olympic ringWater Forest Earth Sky FireFish Panda Antelope Swallow Olympic flameProsperity Happiness Health, Strengh Good-luck Passion Protection of nature Tibet Olympic spirit In the way they are designed all the mascots also refers to traditional Chinese culture : the water waves on Beibei are taken from ancient chinese paintings, the lotus on Jingjing comes from porcelain of the Song Dynasty, the fire of Huanhuan are drawn from Dunhuang murals, decorations on Yingying head come from Tibet and western China in general and finally the design of Nini reminds us of traditional kite designs. They are full of symbols and meaning referring to Chinese culture but their friendly faces and simple graphics representation can also be easily interpreted by foreigners as welcoming creatures representing unity. All the Olympics were about welcoming «friends from foreign countries» and let them have a good image of China. I have covered the main displays of traditional culture and I am now going to talk about the modernity of these Olympics. The whole world was mesmerised by the perfection of the opening ceremony but also by the modernity of the Olympic sites. The «bird’s nest» is know to be one of most remarkable piece of architecture and represents the craving for originality in architecture that we can find all over Beijing and every big city in China. The fast building of the Olympics infrastructure also shows the always moving landscape in Chinese city. Moreover for most of the World it represented the rising power of China displaying its wealth and modernity. I remember having conversations in France about how China was going to be the next World leader.
  4. 4. Chazal Aurélie Major : Eco Université Blaise PascalThe main feeling after the Olympics was that everyone remained really impressed by Chineseperformance both in welcoming people and shining on the tracks by wining the most gold medals. The Beijing Olympics were the most widely broadcasted of all time and attracted the mostviewers. It was a perfect occasion for the rising power that is China to show the World the greatnessof the country. The Olympics also painted Chinese people really proud about their culture, happy towelcome foreigners and present them with their culture. Even if their were boycotts and criticsamong western countries concerning Chinese position towards human rights, the Olympics will bereminded as mind-blowing and perfectly organised. Also the messages of unity and harmonyconveyed during the Games helped bringing nations together in a friendly atmosphere. The 2008Olympics will always be remembered as a perfect display of China as e rising powerful countrywith a rich history and represent a friendly invite to the world to come discover China as the openarms of the red 京 (capital city) logo represent.
  5. 5. Chazal Aurélie Major : Eco Université Blaise PascalReferences :"Backgrounder: Cultural Icons in Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony_English_Xinhua." 欢迎访问新华网. Ed. Xinhuanet. Xinhua News Agency, 8 Aug. 2008. Web. 20 Dec. 2011. <http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/ 2008-08/08/content_9053273.htm>."Essential Knowledge of Beijing Olympic Games, Symbol, China." China Travel, China Travel Agency W/ Tour Packages, 24/7 Service. TravelChinaGuide.com. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.travelchinaguide.com/ beijing-olympic/knowledge.htm>.Fixmer, Andy. "Beijing Olympics Attracted Most Viewers, Nielsen Says." Bloomberg - Business & Financial News, Breaking News Headlines. BLOOMBERG L.P, 5 Sept. 2008. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http:// www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=conewsstory>."JO 2008: La Culture Chinoise à Lhonneur_french.china.org.cn." Centre DInformations Internet De Chine. China Internet Information Center. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://french.china.org.cn/archives/JO2008/cc/ node_7049427.htm>."Le monde entier connaît mieux la culture chinoise à travers les Jeux Olympiques." Le Quotidien Du Peuple En Ligne. 17 June 2008. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://french.peopledaily.com.cn/Horizon/6431883.html>.Lubow, Arthur. "The China Syndrome." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. The New York Times Company, 19 Dec. 2011. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/21/magazine/ 21bejing.html?_r=1>.McCabe, Aileen. "CHINAS LUCKY DATE." Canada.com. Postmedia Network Inc., 8 Aug. 2008. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=01040f4b-7c78-42f2-91e4-2f5ba3cc6c9e>."One World One Dream" The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://en.beijing2008.cn/spirit/beijing2008/ graphic/n214068253.shtml>.
  6. 6. Chazal Aurélie Major : Eco Université Blaise PascalPRLog. "Opening Ceremony of Beijing Olympic Games Tells the Facts of Chinese Culture | PRLog." Free Press Release Distribution Service - PRLog. 12 Aug. 2008. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.prlog.org/10103541- opening-ceremony-of-beijing-olympic-games-tells-the-facts-of-chinese-culture.html>.Rabinovitch, Simon. "Beijing Games to Be Costliest, but No Debt Legacy | Reuters." Business & Financial News, Breaking US & International News | Reuters.com. Thomson Reuters, 05 Aug. 2008. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/08/05/us-olympics-cost-idUSPEK25823820080805>."Volkswagen Claims ‘Green’ Medal at 2008 Olympic Games." AUSmotive.com. 2 Aug. 2008. Web. 20 Dec. 2011. <http://www.ausmotive.com/2008/08/02/volkswagen-claims-green-medal-at-2008-olympic-games-in- beijing.html>.