This article assesses the role of fear and envy in the British broadsheets' construction of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by examining coverage of conflict in Tibet and the opening ceremony of the Games, and considering them in the light of the wider socio-economic context of the time. Drawing on elements of evolutionary psychology, combined with aspects of Systemic Functional Grammar (including transitivity, Appraisal and the grammar of visual design) as well as intertextuality, it demonstrates how China is presented as a war-mongering force and is thus an object of fear. In addition, the analysis demonstrates how the opening ceremony is effectively ‘spoiled’ by negative appraisal, which is characteristic of envy. In evolutionary terms, envy and fear, in this case, emerge as useful emotions which effectively serve to ‘disarm’ China at a time when China is on the verge of becoming the world's next superpower and Britain finds itself in the throes of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Added to this, London 2012 was on the horizon.