China to fans: “Don’t mention the war!”

GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images Worried about citizens embarrassing themselves while watching sports they are unfamiliar with or offending foreign visitors, Chinese authorities have set up a program to educate the population on cheering etiquette in preparation for this summer’s Olympics: Welcome to the “Beijing Civilized Workers Cheering Squad,” a public-education program to teach sportsmanship, all ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
597735_071206_china_05.jpg
597735_071206_china_05.jpg

GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images

Worried about citizens embarrassing themselves while watching sports they are unfamiliar with or offending foreign visitors, Chinese authorities have set up a program to educate the population on cheering etiquette in preparation for this summer's Olympics:

Welcome to the "Beijing Civilized Workers Cheering Squad," a public-education program to teach sportsmanship, all part of a larger Olympic etiquette campaign to show off a polite, prosperous and powerful China.

GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images

Worried about citizens embarrassing themselves while watching sports they are unfamiliar with or offending foreign visitors, Chinese authorities have set up a program to educate the population on cheering etiquette in preparation for this summer’s Olympics:

Welcome to the “Beijing Civilized Workers Cheering Squad,” a public-education program to teach sportsmanship, all part of a larger Olympic etiquette campaign to show off a polite, prosperous and powerful China.

“Civilization equals order,” Mr. Zhang said. “We need to express the same slogans, think the same and behave the same way. That’s how we become civilized.”

Creepy. An example of an approved chant is: “China, China — ha, ha, ha. China, China must win. Let’s go, let’s go.” Still, it’s understandable that the Communist Party bigwigs would want to avoid incidents like this one:

At a field hockey test event this summer between Argentina and Australia, hundreds of middle-age women were bused in to add atmosphere — the kind of instant numbers only China can muster. The women tried to imitate cheers in Spanish but got it wrong.

“Ba mao si fen han de di le,” they chanted, which in Chinese could roughly mean: “Eighty-four cents, you’ve offered a price too low.” Nobody could figure out what this had to do with field hockey.

Another fear is that nationalist hostilities could occur during events involving China’s historical enemy, Japan. Chinese fans jeered during Japan’s national anthem at the recent women’s World Cup and hurled insults at the Japanese players. China’s new heavy-handed efforts to avoid offending its World War II rival remind me of one of my favorite John Cleese routines.

(Hat tip: Marginal Revolution)

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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