Peipei Luan

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2008, 12:00am


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Beijinger Peipei Luan, 27, left China five years ago for Vancouver. She has already booked her tickets to come back to the capital to be with her father, Luan Zuxun, and mother, Gao Jinling, for what she sees as her country's most important event for decades.

How do you feel about August 2008?

I love my city and want to support Beijing as it hosts its biggest event. I was still living there when Beijing lost the bid for the Sydney Games [in 2000] by just one vote. I stayed up late to watch the final vote with my father, and it was devastating. But I knew Beijing would win the 2008 Olympic bid. At the very moment we did, I told myself that no matter where I was in the world, I would be back to celebrate this peaceful event with all the Chinese and our international friends. Cheers for Beijing!

Why do you think the Olympics are so important for China?

They will give China a great opportunity to show the world who we are and what we are capable of. It's once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for China and its people. If we can successfully host this event, it will put China on a higher pedestal.

Do you think the Tibet riots will influence people's ideas about China?

Yes, for sure. I am very disappointed that the Tibetans mixed politics and the world's biggest sport event. The Olympics to China is huge. To an ordinary Chinese citizen, the government has spent so much time, effort and money on this event, promoting training programmes for every single citizen. They have learned to use some basic English to welcome international friends, and they are trying to change their bad habits and be more polite. From my outsider's perspective, not only is the government trying hard to host a successful event, the vast majority of Chinese citizens are also preparing themselves to be great hosts. But now, the Tibetans have damaged China's image. This is not a good time to get even with the Chinese government. Tibetans should be smarter and know that this is not going to change anything anyway. I know China has many areas that need to be improved, but the whole country is trying so hard to change its old image. Please give China a break! I believe in respecting what others think, but I don't necessarily need to agree with them. A lot of foreign friends don't know the history behind China and Tibet, and they only see the issues on the surface, which sometimes are not the truth.

Do you think it will put anyone off from coming to see the Games?

If people have decided not to come because of this, it indicates they didn't want to come in the first place.

How do your parents feel about the Olympics?

They support them 100 per cent. It's a Chinese tradition to provide the warmest hospitality to guests. I was very touched when I heard my mother is attending classes and learning English each week. She repeats what she's learned to me on the phone and asks me to correct her pronunciation.

How do your friends and colleagues in Canada feel about the Beijing Olympics?

Most of them supported Tibet's action because they didn't know the history behind it. When I told them my side of the story, they agreed with me about the Tibetans mixing politics and sport. They now wish China can successfully host the event without any nasty surprises.