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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora