Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

China: Beijing doesn't love masks?

Global Voices OlympicsOn Tuesday, four Olympics athletes from United States showed up at Beijing airport with masks over their mouths and noses. Though they thought it was just a simple “precautionary measure” against the pollution in China, such behaviors were interpreted much differently by the Chinese internet users.

The No. 1 accusation is that the masks were intended to embarrass Chinese as a protest with political implication.

Blogger Gass-rooter(草根情怀) railed against them




The U.S athletes finally put on their masks to China, the black masks, as ugly as gas masks…. The conceit way they wore them disgust us Chinese……
Don’t slight these little black masks. The U.S has planned to do so, to embarrass China in the presence of the world, though slef-proclaiming that they were just taking care of the athletes’ lungs.
Firstly, when U.S hosted the Olympics in Los Angles, whose air pollution was even worse than Beijing’s, they did nothing. But this time they just could not get along well with the air condition in Beijing.

And he furthermore took people living in Beijing as arguments.


Secondly, not mentioning the dense population in whole China, just in Beijing are so many people there, and we are all living fine and with joy day after day. Why the hell have they got to put on masks once they arrive?


He finally concluded the mask as a sign of insulation. “Why do we have to withstand it?” he questioned.

Compared to this lengthy redicule, some just commented in short words with anger:


F**k off! ******

More people thought the athletes impolite.
afhel said:


They were impolite to China, at least to Beijing. It’s just like shaking hands with you with gloves on, which implied you are felt dirty.

不一定1 in Tianya said:

你是客人,你来别人家,对方非常努力的打扫了房间,很热情的接待了你,这个时候,你不应该表现出友好和善意吗?就算对方家里还有不足之处,你不应该表示理 解和宽容吗?

You are guests that come to the home of a host who tidy up his room and welcome you warmheartedly. And shouldn’t you show friendship and kindness at the point? Even if there is a few aspects to improve at the house, shouldn’t you show understanding and toleration?

In senses of these net users, wearing mask is but a chilly rejection to Chinese courtesy, a behavior that “give no face to Chinese”, as translated from the Chinese idiom, 不给面子.

And 誓佐 ‘s comment gave another reason explaining why they feel pissed off by the athletes:


For Olympics, for clean air, we nationals almost have to clog our assholes to let no gas out, but the Americans just don’t give you face (give you respect).

This grief is in some way justifiable. To prepare Olympics with good air, over 100 factories were shut down, and in Beijing, over 2 million vehicles were banned to run on way per day, industrial production and transportation affected. Also, the strict security measures in many cities bring abut great inconvenience.

That’s why some suggested it’s a ceremony to flatter the foreigners by the price of the citizens’ regular life; looking on the troublesome 2008 more or less associated with Olympics, it probably makes sense.

Back to the topic, however, there is also voice at the other side no less resonant than the aforementioned.

露珠湿纱壁 relentlessly contradicted the internet users who scolds the athletes:


You have the right to call their names, but so that they can freely wear masks.
Brainwashed too much by CCP, you’ll of course feel piqued for your master, even if it doesn't need you to. What a wretched nation!

On August 6, the U.S athletes concerned, under the pressure of U.S.O.C. officials who were apparently unhappy with their choice (according to New York Times), apologized. The 4 cyclists said it was in no way meant to serve as an environmental or political statement.

On this apology, many Chinese internet users felt it a victory, while still a few thought it not a sincere one. But meanwhile some felt sorry with Chinese.

骑着蚂蚁猎大象 said:


That people should apologize because they wear masks indeed shows that China is 5 times better than some place. (It alludes to an embassy’s statement that the human right condition in China is 5 times better than that of U.S —- translator)
By the way, are masks sold in China? I suggested the masks being banned tomorrow, and punishing all those put it on.

Wear or not to wear masks, might not be a question for the guests, but the host, a sensitive host.



What a great country is it supposed to be that even cannot stand a man with mask?

(Additional:less than 30 minutes to the Olympics. Regardless of so many controversies, may the ceremony be blessed!)


  • MuLan

    Knights is in Beijing. Earlier I forgot to take off “Knights” and replace my name when I was typing in one of the forums. Anyway, I am Knights sibling.

    So I am using his computer and account to put in my opinions until Knights get back.

    Wow, I am laughing at those chickened athletes. If there’s a disaster, I do NOT think they will survive! The Chinese will survive anything if they survive through different obstacles since 5000 years ago.

  • MuLan

    I guess these athletes were NEVER taught their parents to give people respect.

    To an AMerican, the whole world stinks, and the usa smells like fragrance.

  • so_damn_lame

    It is okay. They apologized a couple of days ago.

    But still, people shouldn’t be too sensitive to all the little things that happen in the world. Being a confident people and nation means that the little stuff like this shouldn’t both us.

    So, be confident and don’t sweat the little stuff. It’s no biggie.

    Plus, if I was competing in the Olympics, I would wear my dirty jock strap on my head if it has (or I think it has) the potential of maintaining my edge.

  • Zictor

    Both sides have good points in this issue.

    Stepping out of the air plane wearing masks is rude, ok.

    BUT the city is very polluted, regardless of the efforts that the Chinese made to clean the air. Even though it is better than a couple of months ago, the pollution level here would set off alarms in many other places. The athletes might be permanently damaged from competing in Beijing.

    MuLan: Cut the “chinese-are-more-resistant-talk-to-save-face”. People here use masks, too.

  • Spelunker

    The wearing of masks in the airport was a very clever environmental statement by the US cyclists. Notice that the shirts worn by the US cyclists simply said “BEIJING”
    in plain English and were not official 2008 Olympics merchandise.
    How many tourists get off the plane in Beijing airport wearing “Beijing ” T-shirts? My guess is that the US cyclists knew (and planned all along) that they would be photographed wearing the masks and that the pictures would be perfect for the global media’s focus on Beijing’s air pollution.

  • zooie

    I think everyone should respect the Chinses efforts!!!They have worked so hard for it .

  • wei

    except of course they are not that smart…and they are forced to apologize.

  • US Athletes showing up with face masks and what bloggers think of it. …

    Global Voices Online » China: Beijing do…

  • jb

    I know most people in Beijing think it’s normal never to see a blue sky unless it rained the day before, but it’s just not. I never in my life had asthma or allergies until I moved to Beijing, and now I can’t run across those lovely 10-lane streets without feeling winded. And no, my lungs are not part of some Western imperialist plot. The air in Beijing sucks, period. It has a texture for God’s sake!

    Why can’t we just say, “the opening ceremony was fabulous, Beijing is doing a great job, congratulations, but the air still sucks” and move on? Becoming a confident nation means accepting both the good and the bad.

    I am so sick of ultra-nationalist 网民。I guess it’s important to let the outside world know their views, but isn’t there a rational middle somewhere?

    If I were an athlete, I would wear a mask. In some events mere fractions of a second separate you from the guy who gets to stand on the podium, so I’d do anything I could to be damn sure my lungs were as free of carbon monoxide and fiberglass as possible.

  • MuLan

    ya, let’s ignore the childish act of those cyclist athletes. You know they did not get enough teaching about respecting others when they were kids. USA is a country where childen do NOT respect adults. They force their parents to nursing homes when they grow up. They bring guns to schools to shoot down teachers and peers. How can you expect them to have decent respect for others??????


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Love reading Global Voices?

Help us understand our readers by completing a quick survey »