Petty US media can’t save fragile US self-esteem by slandering Chinese spectators as ‘nationalists’
Published: Feb 14, 2022 07:39 PM
Nathan Chen in action during the Skate America in Las Vegas, the USA on Saturday Photo: VCG

Nathan Chen in action during the Skate America in Las Vegas, the USA Photo: VCG

US-born figure skater Nathan Chen won the gold of men's individual figure skating on Thursday, when he made a new record in short program. But soon after that, the world saw the fragile self-esteem of many Americans. They complained that Chinese media ignored Chen's gold medal win with their coverage of the very competition focusing instead on Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu (finishing fourth) - who has a huge fan base in China - and Chinese figure skater Jin Boyang (who finished ninth). Besides, they hyped that Chen is being called a "traitor" in China. 

CNN's article entitled "Fame and fury: China's wildly different reactions to US-born Olympians" clamored there is a drastic comparison between audience's attitude toward Chen and Gu Ailing, also known as Eileen Gu, implying that Chinese audience are engaged in "nationalism" and are nothing but "petty." Apparently, in the eyes of those American elites, Chen is a cut above Gu and thus they cannot accept Chinese audience's "cold-shoulder" to Chen. Because of Gu, Chen now receives more limelight in the US, and his gold medal means a lot to the fragile self-esteem of the US. 

Nevertheless, Chen's program was considered by many audiences to be lacking "the sense of beauty." Yet "sense of beauty" is believed by the audience as an important element of the figure skating. The fact that Chen has received little attention in China suggests not only that his performances failed to impress the audiences, but also that Chinese audience don't focus on his nationality. However, the US media has been hyping the so-called different attitude toward Chen and Gu to make a fuss of the nationality to slander China. This reflects the narrow-mindedness of the American elites that says "I must be outperforming you."

Gu has chosen to represent Team China at the Beijing 2022, and the Chinese audiences cheered for her. This demonstrates a fact that China is capable of providing talents with similar and even better platforms and opportunities than they can have in the US. From this perspective, Chinese audiences are by no means being petty. Definitely not. 

Both Chen and Gu are second-generation Chinese born in the US. They have similar tags, but are treated differently by the US media. Those outlets have discarded the American "democracy" and "human rights" values while pointing an accusing finger at Gu. In the meantime, they speak highly of Chen as they amplify Chinese audiences' so-called hostility against him. This can be exactly called double standards. 

Chen fits the American stereotype: Immigrants came to the US, stay in the US and then fight to bring honor to the US. But now a reversed trend began to show up - this sign has worried many American elites. They are reluctant to admit that the US is not as attractive as it used to be. But manipulating public opinion with double-standard tricks is meaningless for the US to regain the fame of never land. 

In comparison to US media's acerbity toward Gu, Chinese mainstream society is much calmer and more objective about Chen. This is a reflection that Chinese public opinion has become more and more mature after living through numerous rounds of attacks and disinformation war launched by the US against China. The smearing the US media have been making cannot change this fact, and holding on to it will only highlight their dark mentality of being narrow-minded and petty against every China-related topic.

Chen certainly faces a much more normal and neutral public opinion in China than Gu does in the US. As a matter of fact, although US media is hyping that Chen is left in the middle between China-US friction, some posts in Sina Weibo that support Chen appear at the top of searching results of his name. Is this what cold-shoulder is supposed to look like? 

If American media continues being petty over China-related topics and politicizing them, the image of the US as a miserable loser who cannot accept any failure at all will become more and more people's first impression of this country. 

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn