That’s what the ‘C’ in ‘SCMP’ stands for

People’s Daily subsidiary Global Times declares that Chinese people aren’t upset about their country’s second-place ranking at the end of the ‘contest of national strength’ that is the Olympic Games. This is presumably the official face-saving line in reaction to a self-perceived humiliation that leads young nationalists to fume “…the West must be satisfied that we were defeated by the US.” The correct response would be that it is not a contest of national strength at all (the UK came third and India 55th). But to insecure China with its paranoid government, it must be.

Every country’s reaction to the Olympics probably tells us something about a collective national psyche. The US, to the extent it cares, seems reassured to be top, while the British appear bemused by their success, and the fifth-placed Koreans perhaps understandably impressed with themselves. Hong Kong is over the moon with one bronze. In all these cases the mood is positive. Not so in the country that came second; it is in a huff, whining about foreigners’ unfair treatment of Chinese athletes, and how the nation must not ‘fall into the trap’ of blindly obeying global rules. (There is also some questioning of such thinking going on.)

What is slightly jarring is that our very own South China Morning Post feels a need to get into this morose spirit in an editorial that sounds straight out of Xinhua…

The front-page story emphasizes China’s sportsmen, while the whole back page is dedicated to China’s, and only China’s, gold medal winners – echoing the fetish with coming first that even some Mainlanders in the Daily Beast article are criticizing. “The scale of [the athletes’] endeavour and achievements cannot be denied,” it insists. (And what on earth is it with this medal-biting thing? Come back ‘V’ sign, all is forgiven)

It is jarring for the same reason much of the SCMP’s China coverage has appeared odd ever since some time back in the 1990s when daily reports from far-flung Mainland provinces and cities started to appear. The paper’s readership is mainly Hong Kong Chinese (many educated in a Western style), with a sizable minority of Westerners. Apart from what seems to be a handful of vociferous patriotic letter-writers, most of these readers are going to be unmoved, and possibly not all that interested, in such China-centric coverage. But the paper has little choice: Hong Kong is a part of the PRC – what country do you expect one of its newspapers to cover in depth? The fault lies with the Hong Kong public, in effect, for not being Chinese enough. Yet another sign of how desperately we need national education, because, as we all know, you can enhance people’s emotional attachment to their country through classroom lessons.

China’s latest batch of astronauts have just passed through town, and the country’s Olympic medalists will be coming in a couple of weeks. The idea is that these high-profile visits will somehow inspire a spirit of shared nationhood with the Mainland, and maybe make us want to vote for pro-Beijing candidates at the September 9 Legislative Council elections. Maybe school children will be drafted in to enlarge the happy smiling flag-waving crowds, as with the Olympic flame four years ago. But is there any way to drag SCMP readers into taking an interest?

There is. The national heroes are a bit boring (unless you want to hear about having chili sauce in orbit), but Hong Kong has its own way to spice up these contrived appearances: demonstrations. In the astronauts’ case, protestors complained about the faking of a harmonious environment, and national education in general. For activists to picket the athletes would be churlish, and probably counterproductive. But at least we’d want to read about it.

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18 Responses to That’s what the ‘C’ in ‘SCMP’ stands for

  1. R lloyd says:

    When the winning athletes come are we all supposed to forget that these were the competitors to our plucky Hong Kong team?

  2. Bela The Blimp says:

    China would have had to win 590 medals at least to equal Team GB on a pro rata population basis. So there.

    The bronze medal of Hong Kong should have been upgraded to Platinum in view of the difficulty involved in cycling in Hong Kong, and the general lifelessness of the population. Perhaps we will perform better at the Paralympics.

    The SCMP became Xinhua in 1995 approximately when Fenby fronted for them. Patten used to call it the South China Morning Star.

  3. PCC says:

    Good catch on the repellent medal-biting thingy.

  4. Old Timer says:

    Will our valiant Bronze Medal winner be doing a tour of Beijing?

  5. PropertyDeveloper says:

    It’s all part of a worldwide anti-Chinese plot: the order of events was rigged to put the heroes ahead at the beginning, but to then make the foreign devils very happy by cheating and so overtaking the glorious patriots.

  6. Stephen says:

    I enjoy these little missives on the Pro China Morning Post. I gave up reading it years ago, due to its in your face self censorship. It became embarrassing and sounds like it still is.

    Now here goes the HK Government & The CCP again – the Astronauts, The Olympians, The inane press comments and, finally, The Legislative elections in less than a month. It’s so blatant it almost makes me want to go out and vote for the democrats or the civics.

    HK does not love The PRC it just accepts the reality. Perhaps China and our nauseating self serving elite should accept that this is as good as its going to get?

    But reading your review on the PCMP its sounds like more of the same and the CCP (with its king size chip on both shoulders) is still insisting we love it without asking why the fuck we should?

  7. darovia says:

    Why would you NOT want to read the SCMP? I quote: “If China had perfromed better in track and field events it could have reduced the US’ overall gold medal lead.”

    Where else could one go for such insight, such depth of analysis?

  8. Chopped Onions says:

    china=crap same same

  9. darovia says:

    The typo, however, is mine own.

  10. AHW says:

    Blame the photographers for all those “bite the medal” snaps. It’s what they shout at all the medallists… and the light reflecting off the medals helps to brighten up the athletes faces!

  11. Vile says:

    They’ll regret it when they have to sell their medals for food or doctor’s fees a few years down the line. Bite marks bring down the value.

  12. Walter De Havilland says:

    I agree with Bela that Sarah LEE’s bronze is a stunning achievement given the challenges she faced. The government has largely ignored cycling and for that matter all other sports except those involving four legs … Four legs good, two legs bad! It even closed down the athletes facilities in Shatin to build the arena for the Beijing equestrians events in 2008 and I’m told that full reinstatement is still awaited.

  13. delboy says:

    On the odd ocassion that I do manage to bring home a free copy of the SCMP, my daughter’s Guinea pig uses it to crap on. I, on the other hand, wouldn’t wipe my arse on that rag. You know what? I realised in 1968 what a cruddy newspaper it was; at the tender age of twelve.

  14. Real Tax Payer says:

    Sometimes I do find the chorus of complaints here a little depressing.

    The good ol’ Lychee still has a lot of live in inside its rough skin, and personally I really enjoyed the closing ceremony for which I got up at 04.00 AM [ except for the statutory commercial break at about 05.30, which turned out to be just 3 adverts long : a) a govt info piece from the Royal Observatory about typhoon signals b) yet another TVB self-commercial for this weeks programs, and c) I forget what but it was yet another govt thing. Anyway, no sponsor-paid advert.]

  15. mumphLT says:

    SCuMP can be read in about 5 minutes these days. Content is pretty poor and the bits that could be interesting are very poorly written with minimal research & insight.

    The mainland stuff….SFW? Mostly a waste of space as no one is interested – it has no bearing on our lives – mostly. Oh – and the reports are dross too so even if they were important they are unreadable.

    The ‘best’ part strangely is the business section and the Sunday mag & review with the syndicated articles.

  16. mumphLT says:

    Oh and I agree that HK can be part of the PRC – but can’t we all just admit it – it’s pretty wank & we would rather not be but if it has to be so can we not mention it so often?

    Me gran used to smell of stale piss when she got very doddery but we didn’t harp on about it.

  17. Des Espoir says:

    Why all this fuss about Mainland astronauts ?? – we have one of our own, who was in space way before them, and who has been to the moon…. Bill Anders, command module pilot of Apollo 8, was born in HK. That makes him HK’s (and arguably China’s) first astronaut..

  18. Will.I.Am says:

    I see delusion rules the day. I was unfortunate enough to catch an interview of a “Hong Kong” Olympian, a decidedly looking Han Chinese looking chappie with a decidedly Han Chinese name addressing the Hong Kong reporter decidedly in Mandarin. So much for the “Hong Kong” Olympic squad.

    As to what Hongkers do or do not like or care for in regards to their relationship to the CCP… as I’ve mentioned repeatedly… it remains utterly and completely irrelevant. Hongkers can play nice and bend over and spread em and take it like the tycoonocracy, or the CCP simply invokes the Xinjiang/Tibet/Spratleys/Africa solution. It doesn’t take very many Mainlanders to supplant any semblance of what you thought a Hongker was or used to be. In less than 10 years and 2-3 million mainland permanent residents here Mandarin could as easily replace the native tongue here as it has done in Lhasa. Or Vancouver for that matter.

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