Olympic Dreams: China and Sports, 1895-2008

By MacDonald, Gordon H. | Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies, Annual 2009 | Go to article overview

Olympic Dreams: China and Sports, 1895-2008


MacDonald, Gordon H., Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies


Olympic Dreams: China and Sports, 1895-2008, by Xu Guoqi (Harvard University Press, 2008).

In advance of most recent Summer Olympics, the public can be assured of seeing a number of offerings from the publishing industry on a variety of aspects of the impending Games. Olympic Dreams is no exception as it is one of several books about China and sport that appeared shortly before the start of the 2008 Games. The author, Xu Guoqi, is one of a small but growing number of recent Harvard-trained historians of 20th century international history who have begun to focus upon sport (Barbara Keys is another whose work has been reviewed in recent volumes of Olympika). What sets Olympic Dreams apart from other volumes on China and sport is how Xu situates his discussion within the broader context of international relations and diplomacy in the 20th century. Using this framework Xu shows how various Chinese leaders from different periods (the end of Qing dynasty; the early republic, nationalist China, civil war, Maoist period, post-Mao reforms) recognized and used sport for national and international purposes.

Xu organizes the volume in a roughly chronological fashion, but with three main case studies that overlap certain periods. After spending three chapters providing an overview of China's national and international uses of sport from the end of the Qing Dynasty to roughly the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, Xu then examines in detail three significant cases wherein China's relations with the international community in the 20th century were influenced by sporting events and organizations. These cases are: 1) the struggles between China and Taiwan for the official recognition by the International Olympic Committee that would allow them to participate in the Olympic Games; 2) China and the United States' diplomatic rapprochement via the now famous 'ping pong diplomacy' of the early 1970s; and 3) an examination of the way that the Montreal Olympics played a significant role in setting the stage for the People's Republic of China to re-enter the Olympic Games. With these cases complete, Xu returns to the broader picture with a look at the changes in China's use of international sport in the decades following Mao's death and how these led eventually to China's pursuit of becoming the host to the Summer Olympic Games.

Using an impressive array of archival evidence, Xu presents compelling arguments that successive political leaders of China have embraced the idea that adopting and using Western sports were ways to strengthen and develop the nation both nationally and internationally. Indeed, he devotes chapters to each. Xu shows that the political leaders' and intellectuals' initial goal in the early decades of the twentieth century was to strengthen China's citizens so that they would be more ready to be a part of the military, a necessary condition to defend the nation. However, this quickly expanded to include the use of sport to showcase the nation to the international community and, in the case of China's lone athlete, Liu Changchun, at the Los Angeles Games in 1932, to prevent the Japanese from attempting to use him to legitimize their occupation of Manchukuo. In the decades immediately following the establishment of the People's Republic of China, participating in elite international sport was seen most importantly as a way to show friendship between China and other nations (even if this meant that athletes were sometimes instructed to lose discretely at sporting events). In contrast, in more recent years, victories at international sports events in general and the Olympic Games in particular have been seen to be a way of proving that China is important and of growing significance in the international community. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Olympic Dreams: China and Sports, 1895-2008
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.