Chinese American reaction to the Olympics

The news media likes to do “reaction” stories, especially if there’s a tie to a particular race or ethnicity. With the Olympics starting on Friday in Beijing, a natural story is finding out how Chinese Americans feel about the games being hosted in the “homeland.”

According to the San Jose Mercury News (full disclosure, I work for the company that owns the Merc), Chinese Americans have mixed emotions, while the San Francisco Chronicle says the Olympics bring pride to Chinese Americans. The Detroit Free Press reports the expatriates say the games mark a turning point for China.

Those are just a few of the stories that will be published this week. I sort of wince at reaction stories like these because they tend to pigeon hole people.

For newer Chinese immigrants, the ties to the old country may be closer and they may have some strong opinions about what’s going on in China. Someone like me, who was born in the United States, may not necessarily have as much a connection. Certainly there be some sense of ethnic pride, but my opinions may not be that different from non-Chinese Americans.

However, the Olympics in China will be a big deal and the whole world will be watching. Whether you’re Chinese or just look you might be Chinese, people are bound to ask something like, “how do you feel about the Olympics being in China.”

If China cracks down on protesters or does something stupid like that, Chinese Americans will be asked for their reaction and maybe even have to deal with some backlash. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen and the games go off without a hitch.

For me, there will be a number of Asian American athletes participating in the games and that’s something I’ll probably keep an eye on. And being an old high-school hurdler, I’ll be watching Liu Xiang, the defending Olympic champion and former world-record holder in the 110-meter high hurdles.If you’re Chinese American or even if you’re not, what’s your reaction to the scrutiny the games?

This post is also published on Hyphen magazine’s blog.

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