A great story from the Wall Street Journal, via Mary Nicole Nazzaro’s Beijing Olympics Blog about the new role models emerging in Chinese society. The focus is on the switch from the communist role models, of which Lei Feng is the most legendary, to sports stars and internet entrepreneurs, most notably Liu Xiang.
“Communist heroes were usually idealized, perfect people, and, more often than not, dead.”
Chinese detective writer Qiu Xiaolong‘s book ‘Death of a Red Heroine‘ describes the life (and death) of a model worker in the China of 1990’s economic reforms; a good read for anyone interested. (The book is also a good ‘beginner’s guide to 20th Century Chinese history, with a story.)
“Traditionally in China heroes must be winners first and foremost. That has been the essence of the iconic success of professional basketball player Yao Ming. The 27-year-old National Basketball Association player is treated as a national treasure. Though he wasn’t the first Chinese player to join the NBA, he was the first to dominate in it — showing that Chinese are among the world’s best.”
Bob previously wrote similar when Yao Ming suffered an injury that threatened his Olympic dream.
The main star of the article, and one of the biggest hopes for the Olympics is Liu Xiang. Earlier this year the Chinese public voted their top Olympic dream, to see Liu retain his 110m hurdles gold and there has been great speculation over the pressure Liu is under.
“Mr. Liu, the gold-medal-winning hurdler, is seen as both a hero for the nation who wins gold, and a populist hero who embodies the greater individuality prized by younger Chinese. One important factor: The sport at which he excels wasn’t chosen by the state. Originally a high-jumper, Mr. Liu made an unusual switch into hurdling at age 15, after his original sports school had given up on him.
“He also is admired for the way he conducts himself off the field. Mr. Liu is known as a spunky, everyday kid who exudes a kind of personality that also isn’t handed down by the state. On a victory lap through Hong Kong after his 2004 win, he sang for adoring fans.”
Read and make up your own minds.
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