China Gold: China’s Quest for Global Power and Olympic Glory is first and foremost about the training, the determination, and the focus that make international competitions so exciting. But China Gold is also an excellent introduction to China and its people, with glorious full-color chapters about the history of sports in China (including women’s sports in ancient China), traditional physical activities like tai chi and wushu, and extreme and new sports. It puts into context the drama of China’s economic growth and social development, and the controversies surrounding the Games of 2008, making it also a valuable companion to the Winter Games of 2022.
China Gold: China’s Quest for Global Power and Olympic Glory (A Companion to the 2008 Olympic Games)
$19.95 – $59.95
China Gold: China’s Quest for Global Power and Olympic Glory was first published shortly before the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, at a point when many saw China on a positive trajectory as a global stakeholder. China had joined the World Trade Organization, more foreigners were moving to China and learning Chinese, and investment was increasing rapidly. There seemed to be a new opening up as Chinese students poured into universities and schools around the world. Agreements to cooperate on climate change and fighting terrorism suggested that China was intent on building strong and productive international relations.
Of course there were criticisms, too, notably over human rights and especially Tibet. We wrote in 2008:
Will China change the Olympics, or will the Olympics change China? Perhaps neither to the extent that some people may hope, but there’s no doubt that the ideals of the Olympics—of fellowship and good sportsmanship, of athletic prowess and determination, and of a global community united in working toward a common future—will influence people inside and outside China in this year of China Gold 中国金.
Like many Games in the 112-year history of the modern Olympics, the 2008 Games were disparaged by some groups and actively campaigned against by others. They were unique in Olympic history in that they were held in a country poised to rise to new prominence on the global stage.
Fourteen years late, the rise to prominence is clear, but China’s influence is very much in doubt. Global opinion of China had sunk to a historic low. Even cooperation on climate change is problematic. The calls for a boycott of the “Genocide Games” refer the Nazi Olympics of 1936. China has been drawing in, closing itself off from global interaction. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a contributing fact, but it’s now a question whether China has any interest in integrating the Olympic ideals into its perspective on global leadership.
But cooperation with China is important to our common future. Learning about Chinese history, culture, and politics is more important than ever. And China Gold: China’s Quest for Global Power and Olympic Glory remains an excellent introduction to China and its people, with glorious full-color chapters about the history of sports in China (including women’s sports in ancient China), traditional physical activities like tai chi and wushu, and extreme and new sports. There are chapters about economic, social, and environmental issues connected with the Olympics and fascinating stories from history, about individual athletes and political dramas connected with sports, including “Ping-Pong diplomacy,” about which Chinese Premier ZHOU Enlai 周恩来 was quoted as saying, “Never before in history has a sport been used so effectively as a tool of international diplomacy.”
Editors: FAN Hong 凡红 a leading sports historian, Duncan Mackay, an award-winning Olympics journalist, and Karen Christensen, writer and coeditor of the International Encyclopedia of Women and Sports.
Fan Hong, The University of Western Australia, Duncan Mackay, InsidetheGames.com, Karen Christensen, Berkshire Publishing Group
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