Changing China

Giant on the move

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Zen, Tao and the art of accessing an Olympic venue


Hiromi Miyake trainsAsian negotiation techniques have brought Westerners to their knees ever since Taoist sage Laozi said that soft and fluid water wears away the hardest rock. The deadliest weapon in the boardrooms of companies from Tokyo to Beijing: a long, inscrutable silence.

So who wins in a stand-off between Chinese Olympic volunteers (“nothing is as soft and yielding as water, and yet it conquers that which is hard and unyielding” – Laozi) and Japanese reporters (“my heart burns like fire but my eyes are as cold as dead ashes” – Zen monk Soyen Shaku)?

The burning issue at hand: media access to the Olympic weightlifting training centre.

Japanese reporters have been crowding around the gym for days, trying to get inside and shoot pictures of weightlifter Hiromi Miyake, one of Japan’s main medal hopes. Chinese volunteers, on the other hand, have been trying to keep them out.