How did China brand itself with the Olympic Games opening ceremony?

12 Aug 2008|Cynthia Chan

It’s 8:08pm on August 8th, 2008. Beijing’s Olympic opening ceremony caught the attention of the world. People are equating the opening ceremony to China’s debutante. China is indeed showing herself to the world but at the same time, she’s also showing her people their own country.

The opening ceremony unfolds as the audience’s eyes are fixated on the cinematic wonders delivered to them in a massive dose with minute precision. Director Zhang Yimou boldly introduces China’s five thousand years’ worth of history and culture. He shows the world the sheer power of people who deliver amazing visual effects in unison. He also shows the world China’s awareness of environmental issues.

But what does all this mean to the people of China? Watching the ceremony with their own eyes, and hearing or reading the rave reviews from the world’s media made everyone very proud. Bloggers vividly expressed their pride in real time saying they were touched by the ceremony which reminded them one more time about the great inventions, key moments of history, and meaningful discoveries that are rooted in their country.

There is no doubt the Olympics increased overall national pride for China. The opening ceremony further heightened it. The spirit of the country was packed in a handful of iconic figures, including the world-renowned pianist, Lang Lang; basketball star, Yao Ming; the 9-year old survivor of the earthquake in Sichuan, Lin Hao; the Olympic gold medalist and entrepreneur, Li Ning, etc. And of course, the much-celebrated director of the ceremony, Zhang Yimou, is among the list. Together, they showed everyone the potential of their country.

The opening ceremony helped brand China inside out. It branded the country for the Western audience but at the same time, it didn’t alienate the local people. On the contrary, it wowed them the same way it wowed the West.

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