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Adam Minter

Chinese Feel Burned by Olympic Uniform Controversy

When news broke last week that Ralph Lauren was supplying U.S. Olympians with “made-in-China” uniforms, Senator Harry Reid couldn’t hide his anger, political opportunism or lack of concern for how his response might be received abroad. He told a group of reporters at a press conference for a Democratic jobs bill, “They should take all the outfits, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.”

Had Reid muted his remarks -- say, suggested that future uniforms be made in the U.S. -- few in China would have noticed or cared. After all, “China bashing” as a U.S. political phenomenon -- one that only increases in popularity during election years -- is well-known in China. Suggesting, however, that Chinese-manufactured goods be burned is not. And so, the Olympic uniform controversy soon filled Chinese news programsmicroblogs and editorial pages.