Normally I try to avoid the China Daily as much as possible, but in Beijing it’s the only local English language paper. However, during the Olympics the quality of the paper has gone up considerably and today’s paper was actually quite readable. On the plane from Beijing to Shanghai this afternoon I read through most of the articles and came across some interesting or funny tidbits of information that you might not find in other newspapers. A couple of examples:
- During the Olympic Opening Ceremony it stayed dry the whole time, even though it rained in the south of Beijing. And according to a message on Twitter, immediately after the ceremony was over it also started to rain in the northern suburbs of Beijing. A coincidence? Probably not, considering what the China Daily writes on its front page: The chief of Beijing’s meteorological bureau said “We fired a total of 1104 rain dispersal rockets from 21 sites in the city between 4 PM and 11:39 PM on Friday, which prevented a rain belt from moving towards the stadium”.
- The director of the Beijing Climate Center is good at forecasting the weather, on page 2 of the paper he mentions: ” The weather will further cool down after the closing ceremony on August 24″. Right, I could have predicted that as well. It always gets cooler when the summer is over!
- In an article about the free bike race (everybody can watch it for free as it is a road race through the city and the countryside) some volunteers tell something about their workload: “Every day, we have to get up before 6 AM and don’t finish until after 10 PM”, a volunteer says. “We don’t get weekends off and we don’t get paid, but I have never been happier.” Now that’s the Olympic spirit!
- During the Olympic Opening Ceremony the airport was closed. It only re-opened after the ceremony was over. The first plane to leave was that of Japanese prime minister Fukuda, he left right after midnight according to the article. According to my calculations that means that he missed the lighting of the Olympic flame, because that was around midnight. French president Sarkozy probably waited until the Olympic fire was burning, because his special plane was the second to take off. “17 minutes after Fukuda left”, according to person in charge of air traffic management at the Beijing airport.
- The paper also shows its readers how Chinese athletes chose their marriage partners and compares it to Westerners. The article starts by saying that Andy Roddick married a swimsuit model and that Ronaldo dates “Spanish hottie” Neireida Gallardo. Then the article continues: ” Based on the behavior of testeron-crazed Western athletes you would expect Zhang Jie (one of China’s most successful athletes to hook up with movie star Chow Yun-Fat or at least singer Andy Lau.” But no, the article continues, she chose a “small husband”. And she is very happy with him, saying “all Chinese girls should marry a man like Zhang. He supports me unselfishly.” Some more examples follow, and the article ends with a quote from the badminton head coach of China, who says: “These husbands are making a tremendous contribution to Chinese sports, they deserve gold medals as well.”
- Beach volleyball is a new sport for Chinese audiences, and some of them might not realize that women compete in just tiny bikinis. The paper quotes Ma Deshan, a 65-year old retired government employee that traveled to Beijing with his wife to watch a match. “There he found bikini-clad competitors, cheered on by dancing “beach babies” cheer leaders and a raucous crowd.” His surprised reaction: “This is really new for us. It’s noisy, but you see, everybody seems very happy.”
If you’re in Beijing pick up a copy of the paper during the Olympics, it covers the Games quite well and you can also get a bit of a feeling for Chinese couleur locale!