For a young American surnamed Vamney, it was not until she came to Beijing that she realized how hospitable and outgoing the Chinese were.
The 21-year-old was not alone in her preconceptions of China as a nation of reserved people. However, during the recent Beijing Olympics many foreigners started to understand the Chinese way of romance.
Romantic elements were injected into the Games from the very start. At the opening ceremony of the Games, 29 gigantic footprints formed by fireworks "walked" down the 700-year-old central axis of the city northbound towards the National Stadium, leaving a memorable and romantic visual spectacle for an audience of billions.
Zhang Yimou, the famed film director and the opening ceremony director, said the 2008 Beijing Olympics provided a stage for the world to know better how romantic Chinese were.
"The Chinese are getting more outgoing, partially because they have growing confidence over themselves and the country," said Professor Zhang Yiwu of the Chinese Department at the elite Peking University.
"The Chinese used to prefer to act as someone better than themselves. Now they want to be natural and outgoing. This is a big change," he said.
Cameras recorded how the nation behaved in the romantic way during the Olympics, which was quite different from the traditional and stereotyped "inarticulate" Chinese.
On the night track star Usian "Lightning" Bolt clocked mankind's fastest 200 meters on the track of the National Stadium, or "Bird's Nest," the audience of more than 90,000 predominantly Chinese made the grandest chorus by singing "Happy Birthday" to the Jamaican, whose birthday fell the next day, Aug. 21.
When gymnast Yang Wei won the coveted men's gymnastics individual all-round title, he shouted "I miss you much," both to the audience and his fiancee.
During the awards ceremony, men's canoe double (C2) 500m gold medalist Meng Guanliang even took his 15-month-old son, Meng Yuhang, with him to the podium.
"I want to dedicate this gold medal to my son," the weather-beaten canoeist said.
The world also echoed the romantic signals sent by the Chinese during the Games.
The design of some different national team kits featured Chinese elements. Designs of Cheongsams and Zhongshan suits, or a Chinese tunic suit, were part of the national team kit of Sweden. The Russians had the flower pattern of their kit in the shape of a Chinese phoenix tail. The national teams of Canada and New Zealand both used Chinese calligraphy to write the respective names of their countries on their outfits.
German weight-lifter Matthias Steiner, after winning the gold medal in the 105 kg+ category on Aug. 19, stood on the podium holding a picture of his late wife who had passed away recently, dedicating his victory to his lost love.
"The Chinese, since ancient times, have never lacked the sense of being romantic ... romance has long been blended into the Chinese blood," director Zhang said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2008)