Like many countries, the World Cup means more to China than just the soccer. For this rising power, it heralded in a new capacity of headspace not involving political propaganda. One can argue it introduced agendas of another sort, but the fact remains that other ideas and ideals were able to creep into the Chinese mind. Whilst the Chinese have always found sport as a useful way to discipline their nation, soccer/or football to be more accurate, has proven over the years to have a peculiar nature of liberation. With football, there was never simply quiet and undermined appreciation. At the football, celebrations were always earth shattering and uninhibited.
‘For the first time since the revolution (of 1949), the Chinese nation, exhausted by the Communist Party’s incessant political campaigns, realised that the world could be excited by something other than Marxism and class struggle,‘ wrote Beijing-based observer Daniel Bell, citing historian Yu Maochun.
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World Cup’s spell on war and peace
The most-watched sporting event has influenced events beyond the pitch
By Peh Shing Huei, China Bureau Chief
Source – Straits Times, published June 27, 2010
Beijing: Most people know 1978 to be the year that China opened its door to landmark economic reforms that brought momentous change to the world’s most populous country.
What they may not know is that it was also the year China allowed, for the first time, live broadcasts of World Cup matches, bringing excitement to hundreds of thousands of Chinese.
Those screenings in June 1978, say analysts, were a turning point in the political history of China.
‘For the first time since the revolution (of 1949), the Chinese nation, exhausted by the Communist Party’s incessant political campaigns, realised that the world could be excited by something other than Marxism and class struggle,’ wrote Beijing-based observer Daniel Bell, citing historian Yu Maochun.
The World Cup is more than just football. For the past 80 years, the most-watched sporting tournament has influenced events beyond the pitch, shaping politics, ending wars and even repairing the souls of divided nations.
As U2 rock star Bono said in an ESPN advertisement in 2006 to get Americans excited about the event, the World Cup ‘closes the schools, closes the shops, closes a city and stops a war’.
His lyrical summation may be a tad dramatic, but it is not entirely hyperbole.
Such is the nationalistic allure of the World Cup that factions in the Ivory Coast’s civil war put aside their weapons to pick up TV remote controls to support their country’s debut in the 2006 tournament. Read the rest of this entry »
Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Culture, Greater China, International Relations, Nationalism, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Sport, Straits Times, Strategy