Beijing Olympics Announcement Draws Mixed Reaction From Chinese Wisconsinites

Fireworks at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

A Chinese newspaper editor living in Milwaukee says Friday’s announcement that Beijing will host the Winter Olympic Games in 2022 is catching the eye of the Chinese community in Wisconsin.

Wenbin Yuan, co-founder of the Milwaukee Chinese Times, said that local Chinese-Americans are expressing mixed feelings about Beijing’s winning bid.

“The community is divided into groups that are out of different backgrounds. If they came here recently, they are very excited,” said Yuan. “If they came here a long time ago, they shrug their shoulders, ‘Oh well.’ because like I said, it’s a mixed feeling.”

Yuan also said he hopes this Olympic Games will be another opportunity for Chinese immigrants and Americans to learn more about China.

But, some critics question Beijing’s ability to hold the winter games due to air pollution and lack of snow.

Ed Friedman, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor emeritus focusing on Chinese foreign policy said the Chinese government should be embarrassed about the air quality and improve it for athletes and Chinese citizens.

“Well, if you are a Chinese, the one reason that you might always hope for something like the Olympics is that the government would be so embarrassed by the air pollution problem that it might actually try to do something about it which would be very good for your health and life,” Friedman said.  

He also said he’s positive that the Chinese government will have the financial ability to create artificial snow.

“If the Chinese economy stays as the Chinese economy is, they certainly have the money to spend or waste or invest, depending on your point of view, in creating snow machines or what have you. I personally have no doubt that they can pull it off,” Friedman said.

Beijing will become the first city that has hosted both the summer and winter games.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will be the third in a row in Asia.