Cablegate: Impact of Olympics On Views Toward China
DE RUEHBR #1365 2892004
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 152004Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2672
INFO RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 8595
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 2930
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6760
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5891
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7574
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7158
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0674
UNCLAS BRASILIA 001365
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SCUL PGOV PREL BR CH
SUBJECT: IMPACT OF OLYMPICS ON VIEWS TOWARD CHINA
REF: STATE 105512
1. (SBU) This cable transmits Brasilia's responses to questions
(reftel) about the impact that China's hosting of the Olympic Games
has had on views of China.
A) How closely did the public follow the Beijing Olympic Games?
The Brazilian public followed the games with great interest,
especially the sports that have been traditionally been popular in
Brazil and those in which Brazilian athletes were expected to do
well (soccer, volleyball, swimming, judo, etc.)
B) How were China and the Games portrayed in local media? Mostly
as a sporting competition, or did coverage touch on changes in
China, discussion of human rights, or China's position in the world,
or none of the above?
There were many criticisms in the media regarding the lack of
freedom and human rights violations in China (see examples below)
C) Was Beijing city or China seen as modern, wealthy, developed?
Portrayed as an economic threat or opportunity?
China/Beijing was generally seen as modern and increasingly
developed. This comment from Veja magazine (August 6) was typical:
"China spent 40 billion to do a facelift of the urban landscape and
construct fabulous stadiums, but the great work is the social
engineering to reform the hearts and minds of the population."
D) If there was an increased profile of Beijing during the
Olympics, have businesses, civic groups, media, or government
organizations changed their approach to dealing with China?
It is not clear from reporting Mission has seen whether the media
has "changed its approach" to China.
E) Have expectations of China's global role and position changed in
the view of elites after the Games?
Because of the level of exposure, expectations may have changed,
although this is difficult to quantify. Brazilian elites already
see China as a major independent global player with whom they want
to be associated, and the Olympics did nothing to diminish that view
and might have strengthened it.
2. Additional examples of commentary on the Beijing Games:
VEJA magazine - August 27 - Opening made in China. Life in a country
where freedom arrived for the economy but only God knows when it
will arrive in politics. According to Veja, China wanted to break
the record of medals and was successful. The Chinese also gave a
show of competence and determination during the Olympics. But the
Chinese Communist Party is an incredible machine of social
cooptation ever created: it changed China so that everything would
remain the same. In the letter to the reader, the editor notes that
the reporter sent to do the coverage was surprised to see that
foreign magazines are sold whose content about China was glued in by
censors. He was also surprised with the people he met that show they
are happy with the economic prosperity and indifferent to the
Epoca - June 23 - Epoca did a scene-setter for the Olympics. The
reporter sent to do the special coverage said that she had already
travelled to the other side of the world but it was "the first time
that I travelled to another planet." "I was surprised with the way
the Chinese do not give you responses, with the delirious traffic,
the working capacity, the exaggerated patriotism and the will to
Epoca - August 18 - Epoca highlights what it calls "Chinese Shadows"
showing make-ups and disguises to fool the world such as: the
"volunteers" were part of the Army or paramilitary; lack of freedom
for the internet; volunteers called up to fill up empty seats; lack
of freedom of speech, the "clean" air, and many other tricks to show
that everything was impeccable.