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Friday, August 22, 2008

Fool's Gold

I love China. I truly do. It is the country of my daughter's birth. The more I learn about the history of China, the more my admiration grows for its people. Few civilizations survive events as tumultuous as China's last 150 years. The Chinese are some of the most resilient people I've ever had the fortune to learn about and even meet.

I spend much of my time teaching my daughter that China is an amazing country. I want her to have a strong knowledge of and pride in her birth country. That doesn't mean that I love everything about it. Just as with the United States, there are things I truly disagree with in terms of its social programs, environmental practices, foreign policies and human rights record.

My daughter is only four years old, so the Husband and I have yet to navigate tough conversations about China's more controversial decisions. Unfortunately, the recent, more substantiated allegations surrounding under-aged Chinese g.ymnasts might hurry along this much-dreaded situation.

The Tongginator loved watching 0lympic g.ymnastics this past week. She cheered for both the American and Chinese g.ymnasts. Interestingly enough, even my daughter, a petite Chinese-American gal, commented (in her little four-year-old way) on the controversy to which the announcers alluded.

TONGGINATOR: (pointing to the television) Momma, who are those big kids?

TONGGU MOMMA: Those are the Chinese g.ymnasts, Piglet.

TONGGINATOR: Oh... and who are those teenagers?

TONGGU MOMMA: Who? (looking at the screen again) Oh, those are the American g.ymnasts, honey bear.

So now what do I do? It seems that gold medalist He, KeXin (何可欣) might be fourteen after all, even though the Chinese government issued her a passport which states her age as sixteen. For weeks now, we've read about this widely publicized age controversy, but the Chinese government continually denied the allegations. This past Tuesday, however, blogger Stride H.ax (also known as Mike W.alker) discovered more substantial evidence that the Chinese government might have lied to the I0C and, if so, then also participated in a massive cover-up.

The story hit major news sources yesterday. Information Weekly and The Epoch Times picked up the story first on Wednesday. Now the I0C is calling for an investigation. I just wonder why it took them so long. This isn't the first time China lied about the age of an 0lympic g.ymnast. In 2000, fourteen-year-old Yang Y.un won the bronze medal on the uneven bars, even though Olympic rules required gymnasts to be 16 or older.

This isn't the only controversy surrounding the Beijing Summer 0lympics, but it is the one I will most probably have to explain to my young daughter. If it is true. IF... if it is true.


I don't really have the words. How do you explain cheating and lying to a four-year-old?


CaraBee said...

I've been watching this controversy unfold and am so saddened by it. I feel the worst for the poor gymnasts involved. I imagine they were unwilling participants in the deception but it is possible their accomplishments could be stripped because of the dishonesty of their government.

I love your blog! The little birdies are so adorable.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Thanks, Carabee! And I totally agree with you. I feel so sad for these young girls... and even angry on their behalf. It may even go further than He, KeXin. It's possible the IOC could even strip the entire Chinese team of its team gold medal.

Well... we'll know soon enough.

Kathi said...

This whole issue disgusted me...I'll have to go check out the article. At least your daughter is only 4. My kids at 8,12 & 15....could definitely tell they cheated. What an embarrassment for China. They did such a wonderful job with the Olympics....but then allow this to go on.

I just wanted to say thanks for stopping by my blog the other day...and also to let you know the winner is up.

Have a great weekend.

Georgia Peach said...

I still cannot dismiss my initial impression of how young the Chinese gymnasts look in comparison to the other competitors. It is a striking difference.

But then, I'm reminded of the 2007 Little League World Series when the USA team from Warner Robbins, GA teamed up to play against the team from Tokyo, Japan.

The American boys were at least a head taller than their Japanese competitors and clearly more robust in stature. In this case the scales tipped in favor of the Americans. I don't recall a global inquiry into the Japanese players small stature.

I know I'm mixing nationalities and discussing Japanese athletes in defense of Chinese athletes, but the two are similar in stature and that's my point of interest.

Lanxi said...

It is just sad - whether true or not - because it takes away from all the girls.

Having lived in China for 8 years, I really doubt she is of age, and have no doubts that all the documents 'could' be false. I just hope for the girls' sake, they are not, and they can be proud of their accomplishments, not hide in a shadow of secrecy over them.

discombobulated said...

Gymnastics in general is very disconcerting to me. I lovingly refer to the gymnasts as "The Trolls". They are forced to starve, they have horrible arthritis and stress fractures at 16, they don't menstruate, all of which keep them from growing properly (not that they'd be 5'10" if they were left alone to grow). They are teenagers and young women forced to fit back into children's bodies. Furthermore, they lose their childhood by training day in and day out starting a 4am. I am riveted by the routines and what they can do, but I always feel like I am ignoring child abuse when I watch.

Chris and Deb said...

This entire story is so sad for everyone involved!! One wonders if China will ever really "tell"....it would be such an extreme embarrasment for them at this point! It they are not of age....how sad for those that the gold really might belong to also! Have a great weekend TM!

Mommy Cracked said...

Oh, that's a tough one. Amazing that she caught on to that as young as she is. It's been the topic of much discussion around our house, too.

Thank you so much for stopping in my blog and wishing me a happy birthday. I appreciate it so much!

Mommy Cracked said...
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