I am running in one of Beijing’s downtowns, with my “I heart Beijing” (in Chinese characters) t-shirt on. So many Chinese people stare at me, but that’s okay.
I think the concept of anyone non-Chinese publicly displaying their fondness of China is welcomed by the Chinese, but a foreigner who displays a kind of responsibility for China is definitely new to the Chinese people and cautiously welcomed. As I talked about dawn of the age of misunderstandings, China knows herself best. She knows next to nothing about anyone else except that they’ve probably tried to exploit her in these past few centuries. An outsider who lives in Beijing and publicly displays his sense of shared responsibility toward the city will look like a weirdo. China’s history in the last 200 years hasn’t been that happy, thanks to foreigners, so the idea that foreigners can actually feel a shared responsibility to improve China by contributing and cooperating might be pretty new to the Chinese.
The foreigner isn’t out to keep China down. Surprise to none but the Chinese.
So, there I am running around the city with my “I heart Beijing” (in Chinese characters) and loving every disturbing minute of it, for 4 reasons that also relate closely to the changes that will occur in Beijing for the Summer Games:
1) I am a foreigner and I’ve come to Beijing, just as many other foreigners have done for the Summer Games. 2) As I run down the street and dodge pedestrians to and fro, so will the Summer Games interrupt the Beijingers’ daily lives. 3) I am running down the street and that is strange to the methodic and predictable Beijingers, just as some of the Summer Game sports might seem strange. 4) Some or many of the foreigners will actually become fans of Beijing, just like me. Some will call it home, and treat it as such.