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Eyes on a real China
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09:33, August 18, 2008

During the Beijing Olympics, a thought-provoking phenomenon is that many foreigners have their impressions on China "totally changed."

A German mother and her daughter came to Beijing to see the Olympics. Before their departure they had been told that Beijing might be an "unsafe" place. Then they arrived in Beijing to find out that the description was totally unaccountable. In the evening, they enjoyed the sight and the snacks in Shichahai in Beijing.

After having a lot of fun hanging around, they feel Beijing is safe and full of it's own characteristics.
Ikeda, Editor of Japanese e-magazine Wave of Asia, has his impressions on China greatly changed after seeing the opening ceremony. He said that he used to feel China was a "problematic and scary" country, but now he finds that China is "trendy, beautiful, gentle and nice."

Andy Bull, a journalist working for the English Guardian online edition, is a first-time visitor to China. He went to experience in person Beijing's roads and the environment, got exposed to many people and things there, and found this old impressions on Beijing were totally "overthrown." He wrote, "my old ideas have been totally overthrown. The city has had great changes. My previous ideas about it are so out of date. Today's China is showing itself to the world and we have to accept the facts that we have seen with our own eyes."

There are much more people like them who have their ideas and impressions about China totally changed. They are now exposed to the real China and have got the real picture about China.

It is common that people have presuppositions of some kind about someone or a country. It is also common that new impressions replace the old ones. Where do the previous negative impressions from? The question is worth thinking over.

People form impressions in their process of knowing someone or something. Impressions are gradually formed through hearing, reading and experiencing. Surprisingly enough, different people's impressions on one same thing or person can vary so significantly: Some of the impressions reflect the truth and the other distort the truth.

So how does the latter happen? Just as Andy Bull puts it, "Our ideas have been affected by tons of information. The more second-hand and third-hand information we receive, the more our ideas are off the truth."

Cesar Benjamin, columnist of St. Paul and honorary doctorate of Aragua University in Venezuela, makes it even clearer. In one of his commentaries, he wrote, "Before the opening of Beijing Olympics, western press had produced amazing quantity of ideological rubbish. Many of the western journalists were always seeking the most negative points of view in their reports, so much as to seem ridiculous and silly." He also named an example: Some athletes arrived in Beijing with masks against polluted air, but they happened to find the air in Beijing that day was even better than where they departed from.

So that is why! The bad impressions on China that some foreigners used to have are partially caused by false information delivered by some of the western press, which has mislead their audience. However, facts speak louder than words. This year, over four hundred thousand visitors from all over the world have come to see the Beijing Olympics. Besides seeing the games, they will also go sightseeing and shopping around and get exposed to the local people. Through doing so, they will become aware of the actual situations of the country and form the impressions that match the reality. That is how their previous impressions are replaced by new ones. "Old ideas have been totally overthrown." That really proves the truth in an old Chinese saying: seeing for oneself is a hundred times better than hearing from others (百闻不如一见).

By People's Daily Online

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