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“The officials made a bad decision. But in the end, this is nothing. The real problem is that the games up to this point have been boring,” Mr. Chen added. “Everything is too serious. This should be a party.”

The excruciating care that China took in producing and marketing the Olympics took a tumble as journalists connected the dots for an eager public. All was not as it seemed. During the opening ceremonies, fireworks had been digitally enhanced, flags flew on a fake breeze, ticket sales were doctored.

“First the fireworks, now the fake singing. All our Olympic dreams are shattered,” said USA Today sportswriters Reid Cherner and Tom Weir.

The Chinese government also was criticized - particularly in the blogosphere - for its treatment of the wee chanteuses. One enraged online observer said the ceremony had become a showcase for an “Asian Jeanne Benet Ramsey.”

Discussions of news media treatment and human rights in China also surfaced, along with a laundry list of other sore topics, such as recent recalls of Chinese products and the country’s energy use.

Phoebe Eng, a fifth-generation Chinese-American and director of the Creative Counsel, a Manhattan arts group, has hope the situation doesn’t go downhill.

“I’m hoping it won’t get politicized and that people fall into stereotyping,” she said Tuesday.

“I was astounded by the opening ceremony and astounded by China’s amazing leap forward with its athletes. But I’m hoping the world doesn’t devolve into stereotypes like ‘the Yellow Peril.’ I hope we think about this not as a Chinese question, but as an issue of sportsmanship and fair play.”

But things remain tense between East and West, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which polled an average of 1,000 adults in each of 24 subject countries. An analysis released Friday revealed that 39 percent of Americans had a favorable view of China, 13 percent would consider China a “partner” and 56 percent said the country was unilateralist.

“Ratings for China are decidedly negative in three of the four Western European countries included in the survey,” the researchers said.