Lessons in coexisting with China from Eileen Gu
Published: Feb 08, 2022 09:02 PM
Gu Ailing Photo: Li Hao/GT

Gu Ailing Photo: Li Hao/GT

It comes as no surprise that when most mainstream US media reported the victory of Eileen Gu Ailing, they didn't forget to stress that Gu was "US-born." NBC Bay Area, an NBC-owned-and-operated television station, reminded its Twitter audience that Gu is from San Francisco.
Gu is the 18-year-old skier representing China at the ongoing Beijing Olympic Winter Games. She won the gold in the big air freestyle event on Tuesday. The news rocked both Chinese and American communities. 
What is happening to Gu is the epitome of China-US relations and it may offer some clues to the US how to have a correct view of China and coexist with China when bilateral relations are at a low ebb unseen in the last half-century. 
Toward Gu, some US media and American people have adopted a zero-sum mentality - she can only be either American or Chinese. If she represents China, then whatever she does is questionable; if she represents the US, then she must be an Olympic star of the US. The Americans' expectations toward her are dependent on her representation rather than the Olympic spirit she displays. 
The US adopts the same zero-sum mentality toward China. It believes the bilateral relationship is an "either this or that" one in which the two countries can only compete but cannot coexist. It cannot stand China's development and is doubtful of China's intentions, and it has resorted to every possible means to thwart China's peaceful development. 
But despite the US' all-round containment, China has withstood the US pressure, maintained its development momentum and established itself on the world stage. More importantly, it has done it in a peaceful way. 
Right before the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, Gu had become the target of some US media which cast a malicious and satirical tone on her decision to represent China despite being born and raised in the US. A Fox News host sharply criticized Gu, labeling her the "the ungrateful child of America" as she received "the training and facilities that only the US can provide." Although a victim of US cyber violence herself, Gu's confidence, courage and strong belief enabled her to go through all the attacks on her and take the gold medal. 
While the US media and elites tend to focus on her American background, they have failed to realize that her victory in the Beijing Olympics and her fame in both China and the US are the result of her mixed American and Chinese background. The label of "snow princess" and "beauty model" are not enough to shoot her to fame, but her special status of a US-born athlete representing China in Beijing 2022. 
Her American background somehow shaped her personality and ability, while returning to the embrace of the motherland offers her a wider platform to achieve her goals. The victory of Gu, and all the glittering moments around her, is the result of Chinese tradition, training in the US, and internationalization combined. These moments belong to mankind.
At the current stage of China-US relations, a girl who was born in the US but later decided to represent China is bound to become the focus. "I'm an 18-year-old girl growing up, and I just want to share my story." Her quotes from the Washington Post only make people feel that making a fuss about her nationality and focusing on her American background is just a silly and narrow-minded behavior.
"I definitely feel as though I'm just as American as I am Chinese. I'm American when I'm in the US and Chinese when I'm in China... Both continue to be supportive of me because they understand my mission is to use sport as a force for unity," Gu said after winning the gold medal on Tuesday. 
Gu's vision goes beyond nationality and even sports. This open-mindedness that bypasses geopolitics is what the US needs badly now. There are many issues that China and the US can work on to ensure a better future for mankind.