Beijing -- day two

08 Jun 2005|Cynthia Chan

When I flew into Beijing International airport yesterday evening, it was obvious that the city is already gearing up for the 2008 Olympics. From what I can see, this preparation is not just limited to the official Olympic organizing team. The entire city seems to be collaborating to pull this off.

The first sign are the dozens and dozens of billboards from proud sponsors like Visa, GE, Budweiser and Samsung, crowded side-by-side from the terminal to the main highway. This is followed by unending construction in preparation for the influx of visitors the event is expected to bring–new highways, more trees, a new Ritz-Carlton. In the city itself, preparation for the Olympics is a topic that everyone can discuss. An article in the China Daily today talks about the Olympic Volunteer program the government put in place to attract recruits. The book “Knowledge our Citizens Need to Know about the Olympics” is prominently placed in bookstores, and includes a detailed history of the Olympics, descriptions of the opening and closing cermonies, a list of Chinese gold medalists and other topics intended to raise the population’s awareness.

The world seems to easlily accept that China can efficiently produce a wide range of products. What we often don’t see is how efficiently they’ve been able to transform their cities, not only for the upcoming Olympics, but throughout the country. China currently has 166 cities with populations exceeding 1 million. The US has 9.

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