Entering the exhibition hall of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, you can see a specially designed map of the world on display in which all the participating countries in the 1932 Olympic Games have been colored a delicate green. But the green that is China has dramatically dwindled with time as vast northeastern areas have been cut out from China's territory in the map.
China then had long been plagued by civil wars, and the ruling Kuomintang, drained by the endless skirmishes of resources and national strength, felt impotent to send a delegation to attend the 1932 Olympics. Meanwhile, China's northeastern section fell under the jurisdiction of the puppet Manchu government backed by the Japanese emperor. In a bid for international recognition, the Manchu government decided to send athletes to make an appearance at the Games. In fact, feeling the pressure of battling military forces, only one athlete named Liu Changchun appeared at the event to represent China. An American newspaper carried the photo of Liu with a caption that read: "A man makes a team."
The year 1932 also serves as a turning point in the history of international relations. The old international order was smashed by then super powers Germany and Japan. Both were competing to carve up the whole world. China, with accumulated poverty and weakness, was inevitably ravaged by the super powers.
The Cambridge History of China makes a brief but clear account of China in 1930s—internationalism perished in 1931, and cooperation between the US and the UK was aborted in the same year. Japan, despite international condemnation, in fact took hold of Northeast China.
When Liu, as the first Chinese athlete, showed up at the Olympics, the country represented by him was labeled as the "Sick Man in Asia." But after more than half a century, when the notable Chinese gymnast Li Ning seized three gold medals in the 1984 Olympic Games held in L.A. and dubbed as the "Prince of Gymnastics," China began growing into a "sports giant." A rather blatant contrast.
The world is ever changing, and so is China. Since it took over the Five-ring flag in the year 2001, Beijing has since prepared for the glorious moment, sparing no effort to go global while preserving its uniqueness. Beijing is now ready to open up even more to the outside world and stand up to the challenges and tests of globalization.
Albeit different in time and situation than a century ago, one thing is left unchanged— the perseverance of the Chinese people. Chen Xiaoxia, a famous Chinese diver, was once said: "only when you have swallowed up all the hardships and struggled to the last minute, can you get ahead of the rest." Between 1949 - the founding of new China – and the year 2002, more than 1,000 Chinese athletes chalked up world records. Because of this perseverance, the Chinese people have scored achievements in a variety of fields throughout the years.
The former German Ambassador to China used to make comments on the Chinese people: they have a mind to learn anything new as well as the readiness to accept anything challenging; enduring and unyielding, the Chinese people have created a wonder with Chinese characteristics. The longer you stay here, the more you feel that they can make it.
Indeed, today's achievements are by no means windfalls, but accomplished by generations of Chinese people shedding tears and sweat. Self-reliance has been a great virtue sought after by a country feeding 1/5 of the world's population.
Therefore, hosting the Olympics will be considered a test of China's comprehensive strength; and China will do its utmost to present the world a satisfactory answer sheet. By no means will the Chinese government and people take the risk of hosting the Games as a "final fling," or something like a "graduation ball," as China has a long way to go until its "graduation." In the coming years, the Chinese people will have to step up their efforts to build a strong country they can be proud of.
By People's Daily Online