Forget "The Great Firewall of China", please

BEIJING (Reuters) - No more dragons rising. Enough of Beijing as a city of stark contrasts.

Staff members train at the new China Central Television (CCTV) Olympic Broadcast Center in Beijing July 30, 2008.. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV

Beijing columnist and Internet pundit Kaiser Kuo is on the warpath and his target is the 30,000 reporters descending on China to cover the Olympics.

They outnumber the athletes three to one and he is on a crusade to ensure coverage is not drowned in cliches.

Readers discard your newspaper in disgust, viewers reach for the remote control if that flamboyant color piece goes over the top.

Kuo, who for the past seven years has written a monthly “Ich Bin Ein Beijinger” column for the magazine “That’s Beijing”, has penned a guide to forbidden cliches.

“I think the highest blood boiler for me is the phrase ‘coming-out party’,” he told Reuters after writing a tongue-in-cheek column warning the media of the pitfalls of reporting China with a supposedly fresh eye.

He warned that after appearing in 75.4 percent of stories about the Olympics being awarded to Beijing, talk of a ‘coming-out party’ “now incites English-speaking expats to an ugly violent rage. Use it at your own peril.”

He pleads for an end to the city of ying and yang, the sprawling metropolis of startling juxtapositions.

Beijing taxi drivers, like their London and New York counterparts, love to spout their opinions on any subject under the sun -- but Kaiser Kuo firmly believes one cabbie quote per Olympics should be the maximum allowed.

Puns about Hu and Wen should be avoided. They can either be heavy-handed or downright offensive. Only use “Great Leap Forward” when covering the triple jump or pole vault.

He has another bugbear to get off his chest -- all “those exotic Chinese -- they’ll eat anything” cliches should be banned when doing dog stew and donkey meat stories.

His Olympic warnings certainly ring true. Just look at the coverage of the Athens Olympics in 2004.

The Sword of Damocles kept hanging over athletes suffering from Achilles heels and enduring Pyrrhic victories.

Herculean efforts abounded in the land of Marathon races. Homer, the poet and not the Simpson family patriarch, hovered over every baseball game.

NBC sports commentator Bob Costas famously noted at the opening ceremony that Alexander the Great had competed indifferently in the Olympics and concluded: “As an athlete, he might have been Alexander the so-so.”

(Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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