To say that Chinese have more knowledge of America than Americans have of China would be a severe understatement.
Despite this gap, the Olympic coverage and emphasis on Beijing has given the world a much more comprehensive understanding of China.
As of March, concerns of Olympic boycotts and human rights in Tibet were ubiquitous throughout much of the Western media. Of course, in response, China retaliated launching boycotts of its own against companies, like Carrefour and Louis Vuitton.
Even during the Games, I had several locals tell me that they didn’t like CNN, in response to Jack Cafferty’s comments that Chinese leadership was still “a bunch of goons and thugs.”
Now, with the concentrated media emphasis and even opening ceremonies, the international community was able to see the China that hundreds of millions of citizens are very proud of. In turn, China opened its doors to thousands of “foreign friends,” getting more of a flavor of the rest of the world.
Granted, many of the city’s unflattering images were hidden from the public eye, and it’s not as if every area of disagreement has simply melted away.
Instead, the Olympics provided a way for China and the international community to come together, and to begin to find common ground.