Chinese state media on Sunday swooned over American snowboarder Tessa Maud, who won no medals at the Beijing Winter Olympics but made herself useful to the Chinese Communist Party by praising her hosts and gushing over the Olympic Village accommodations, at a time when other athletes were complaining about hideous food and substandard living conditions.
Chinese media outlets and officials – who, unlike ordinary Chinese citizens, are permitted to use Western social media platforms to spread Communist propaganda around the world – gushed over Maud and hailed her as one of China’s favorite foreign athletes:
American snowboarder Tessa Maud, who was moved to tears by Chinese volunteers, wept again. On Feb 12, she shared her last day in China on social platforms. Tessa said “I’m so sad”, after a few seconds of silence, “I’m going to cry on the plane, I’m going to choke, love you.” pic.twitter.com/FeWsQnhlPo
— China Economy (@CE_ChinaEconomy) February 13, 2022
China’s state-run Global Times on Monday proclaimed that Maud “won the hearts of the Chinese people” and became a viral sensation on the social media platform Communist subjects are allowed to use, Weibo:
On her last day in China, Maud shared a video on social media saying she is so sad as she was leaving China and she was going to cry on the plane. Her videos went viral on Chinese social media after she caught a heartfelt moment at the opening ceremony of the Games showing a Chinese volunteer saying to her “welcome to China” with sweet and kind gesture.
Some Chinese media commented that although she did not claim any medal, she is indeed one of the favorite foreign athletes, as some Chinese netizens said. From day one, Maud used her vlogs to document her life in Beijing, especially her favorite Chinese food. Maud and her teammates also used chopsticks when eating Chinese food such as Kung Pao chicken, roasted duck and fried rice. “Everything is so good,” Maud said in one of her videos.
Maud left China on Saturday. The hashtag “she didn’t win a medal, but succeeded to win the love of Chinese netizens” on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo had been viewed more than 100 million times as of Sunday.
Maud even won a pat on the head from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, whose spokesman Zhao Lijian praised her video blogging in a press conference last Tuesday:
I have watched the video clip of Tessa Maud. “That moment was so crazy like a feeling I have never experienced.” Her sincere and emotional account also touched me. I also noticed that the volunteer Maud was talking about invited Maud to China again in a reply letter, and wished her to excel herself in China. Many Chinese netizens also left messages for Maud, sending their warm wishes.
Since the opening of the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, many stories like this have passed on warmth, friendship and solidarity. Many of the athletes said that they really enjoy and appreciate what they have experienced in China, and that the thing they love the most is counting the smiling volunteers who waved at them.
Let us give these volunteers a thumbs-up and a round of applause! I think they’re amazing! Also, many athletes and journalists have posted video clips or written articles on social media, where they praised the room facilities with technological texture, the robots that can cook and serve the table at the canteens and restaurants, and the healthy and diverse Chinese dishes.
“As people have commented, all the love comes together because of Beijing 2022,” Zhao asserted.
The Global Times likewise sneered that Maud’s “story of warmth and friendship” was a “stark contrast to narratives pushed by some Western media, which have been covering China in biased ways, slandering the image of the country.”