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Chinese Whispers

Why does China care about the Olympics?


It's less than a month to go until the Winter Olympics in Beijing, and a number of countries from around the world have announced they are boycotting – or are effectively boycotting – the Games. But does China care about the Olympics, and if it does, then why?

On this episode, I talk to Dr Susan Brownell, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri and author of Beijing’s Game: What the Olympics Mean to China. She is also a former athlete and has even competed in China, representing Peking University during her time as a student there. On the episode, we talk about what the 2008 summer Olympics revealed about China, the history of sports as diplomacy in the country (think back to ping pong diplomacy under Nixon) and go on a little digression about the dynamics of demolition in China, a very live topic inside and outside of the country as it grew out of the traditional and old houses cities used to have.