Cruel Britannia

Cruel Britannia

Cruel Britannia

What the foreign papers are saying.
July 4 1998 3:30 AM

Cruel Britannia

The South China Morning Post reports on President Clinton's public declaration of the United States' Taiwan policy. The Chinese strongly pressured him to state the policy in clear terms, something he had avoided doing. In Shanghai, he was unwavering: "We don't support independence for Taiwan, or 'two Chinas,' or 'one Taiwan, one China,' and we don't believe Taiwan should be a member in any organisation for which statehood is a requirement." The Taiwanese government asserted that the United States and China have no right to determine Taiwan's future without input from Taipei.

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British papers delve deep into England's World Cup soccer loss to Argentina. The London Daily Mirror headline: "It's Just Too Cruel to Take." General conclusions: 1) Star player David Beckham was an idiot to have committed the foul that got him kicked out of the game ("an astonishing display of petulance," says the Mirror); 2) Beckham's infraction was harmless and did not warrant an ejection; and 3) 18-year-old phenom Michael Owen is a brilliant talent. The Guardian interviews coach Glenn Hoddle, who says Beckham's retaliatory strike "wasn't violent conduct. ...Why do we always need a scapegoat in a case like this?"

The Daily Telegraph salutes England for playing "brilliant and brave football," noting the team's fortitude in playing a man down for almost the entire second half. The Telegraph also nabs a quote from the queen: When asked if she'd been rooting for the team, Her Royal Highness responded, "Well, I think one should." The Guardian wonders why the English team is bad at penalty shots (the match was decided in a penalty shootout). Dismissing the possibility of inferior talent, the paper decides it has something to do with the national character: "Is there some cancerous part of the English psyche which produces serial chokers. ... Might not last night's performance be seen as the classic example of a nation on the dither?"

Oddly, one must go all the way to Japan for the unattractive griping one might expect. Asahi Shimbun quotes several English fans declaring they were "robbed" by a missed call against the Argentines. Other whines: "They don't want the English to win. ... It appears that there is some bias against us. ... I haven't seen such rubbish in a long time. ... We've been cheated." The paper downplays any leftover bitterness from the Falklands War or the 1986 World Cup match in which Argentina beat England on an illegal play: "Maybe during the war we were angry. But it's a game," says one English fan. Offering a less cavalier attitude toward the sport, a Brazilian soccer columnist has this to say in the O Estado of Sao Paulo:

Here in Brazil, the every-four-year event shows a much more positive and spontaneous Brazilian patriotism than that of all national holidays and elections together. ... I wonder what would happen if Brazilians were allowed to choose between two types of election: the president of the nation or the coach of the national team. I have a feeling that many Brazilians would perceive more reasons to pick the second choice.

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Newspapers across the Great White North celebrate Canada Day with pride and patriotism. The Ottawa Sun reports that, despite their hatred of the very nation being celebrated, "Canada Day even touches separatists."