I asked a couple of weeks ago what the effect of the Sichuan earthquake would be. The main focus of the article was a possible rise in nationalism. As TIME Magazine points out in an article linked below, that forecast definitely was realized. But there was another geopolitical consequence: sympathy for China from the rest of the world after weeks of China-bashing. The earthquake, in the long run, probably came at the best of times for the government in Beijing.
Time: China: Roused by Disaster
"We Chinese people are growing closer and closer together," says Wu Xiangping, 28, who took a leave from his job at a Beijing advertising firm to join the relief effort. "And because of that, the country's morality is rising too.
But from a monstrous humanitarian crisis has come a new self-awareness, a recognition of the Chinese people's sympathy and generosity of spirit.
In turn, some of China's most xenophobic bloggers have expressed astonishment at the sympathy shown for China by the rest of the world, the donations of cash and goods and the dispatch of foreign search-and-rescue teams, doctors and other personnel. The outpouring of international goodwill "has changed everything," says a senior Western diplomat based in Beijing. "Now many people will be cheering for the Chinese and hoping they pull off a good show at the Olympics. That will be pivotal for China's self-confidence and its perception of its place in the world."