US-China Rivalry Plays Out at Olympics

    China's Ye Shiwen poses with her gold medal on the podium during the women's 400m individual medley victory ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre July 28, 2012.
    China's Ye Shiwen poses with her gold medal on the podium during the women's 400m individual medley victory ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre July 28, 2012.
    Observers say doping accusations against a young Chinese swimming superstar are the latest chapter in what has become a sometimes tense geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China.

    After six days of Olympic competition, China and the U.S., the world's two largest economies, are locked in a close race for the most gold medals, with each country so far winning 18.

    One of the biggest stories has been the success, and consequent criticism, of Ye Shiwen. The 16-year-old Chinese swimmer's stunning performance has earned her gold medals in both the women's 200-meter and 400-meter events.

    Ye's world record-shattering race last Saturday was "unbelievable" and "disturbing," according to top U.S. coach John Leonard. His comments reflected the concern of many who are aware of China's history of doping. Nonetheless, the speculation set off a firestorm of criticism from the Chinese media.

     'Western prejudice'

    A commentary in China's official Xinhua news agency said the doping accusations against Ye, who has passed drug tests, are the result of a "stubborn prejudice" by Western media who are "exerting every effort to blacken the performance of Chinese athletes."

    But the paper said the issue is larger than just a sports rivalry. The West, it said, is "upset with the rise of China" and is unwilling to recognize that it has become the world's second largest economy.

    "As long as China made progress in science and technology, economic and social development, the Western world was busy making up stories of 'cheating' or 'violating international rules,'" the paper said, an apparent reference to recent squabbles between Washington and Beijing over various trade and economic issues.

    Projection of national power

    Beijing, which views the games as an important indicator of its progress on the world stage, has made huge investments in recent years to ensure that it becomes a global sporting powerhouse, says Phil Lutton, a reporter for Australia's Brisbane Times.

    So he says it should come as no surprise that Chinese athletes such as Ye have achieved a good deal of success during this year's Olympic games.

    "China's poured an enormous amount of resources post-Beijing (Olympic games) into their sporting programs and athletics programs. You see them dominating in a number of fields at the Olympics, including weightlifting, and swimming is one of them," says Lutton.

    New rivalry brewing?

    Lutton says he sees an athletic rivalry developing between the U.S. and China, much like the 1970s and 1980s Olympic rivalry between the U.S. and Soviet Union that mirrored the Cold War.

    And while the U.S. and China typically excel at different sporting events, resulting in relatively few head-to-head matchups, Lutton says the competition has helped make the games more exciting, particularly in the swimming competition.

    "I think it's a good rivalry, (and) we need good rivalries in swimming and sport," he says. "It only adds another layer of intrigue to what's happening around the Olympic pool."

    Victor Beattie contributed to this report

    Photo Gallery: Day 6 of Competition

    • Tyler Clary of the U.S. celebrates winning the men's 200m backstroke final with an Olympic record.
    • Japan's Shiho Otsuka (L) challenges South Korea's Lee Seonok in their women's Group A hockey match.
    • U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas performs on the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around competition.
    • Michael Phelps, left, and Ryan Lochte, both from the U.S., start in the men's 200-meter individual medley swimming final.
    • Prince William and his wife Kate watch track cycling at the velodrome.
    • Greece's goalkeeper Filipos Karampetsos blocks the ball during the men's preliminary round Group A water polo match against Kazakhstan.
    • Spain's Pablo Herrera Allepuz misses the ball during a beach volleyball match against Japan.
    • U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas after receiving her gold medal during the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around competition.
    • Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Russia's Tagir Khaibulaev after he defeated Mongolia's Tuvshinbayar Naidan in their men's -100kg final judo match.
    • Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov serves to Taiwan's Chuang Chih-yuan in the men's singles bronze medal table tennis match.
    • Russian President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague watch the women's -78kg final judo match between Kayla Harrison of the U.S. and Britain's Gemma Gibbons.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora