After the Beijing Olympics: Where to for China?

China Monitor - Issue 32 - Aug 2008August 2008 – Issue 32

Shortly after the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, I asked a Chinese friend what he thought of the spectacle in Beijing. He replied by saying “We Chinese are very critical of events that are organized by our government. But watching the opening of the games, it was perfect. We were all satisfied!” And to satisfy over a billion people, the opening ceremony was indeed spectacular!

There is a strong sense of pride in China at present. Despite the hurdles that China faced leading up to the games – the tragic earthquake in Sichuan province, civil unrest in Tibet, criticism over its environmental record, and general China bashing in all forms – the city succeeded in overcoming these challenges to host the games.

The Olympics also served to dispel many perceptions that foreigners hold of China. For those who have not lived or frequently travelled to China over recent years, most of our perceptions of the country are at least two decades obsolete. The games showed China to be a modern nation and Beijing to be an urban metropolis. Stereotypes of “red China”, military parades and a conformist population are very dated.

It is not just an economic revolution that has taken place in China over the last thirty years, but also social and political as well. The Olympics will not so much change China as it will change foreign perceptions of China.

Download PDF – China Monitor – Issue 32 – Aug 2008