Deals With The Challenges of Pollution, Traffic
that the International Olympic Committee has selected the five
candidate cities bidding for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, Beijing
is rolling up its sleeves.
Deputy Mayor Liu Jingmin and a staff of 70 are working full time
promoting Beijing’s bid out of plush new offices in downtown
Beijing. A visitor to
the office foyer will see a series of huge scale models of the
proposed Olympic Village with a giant artificial lake in the centre,
and a state-of-the-art 80,000-seat stadium.
outside the fancy new offices is the most polluted capital in the
one of the worst polluters is the massive Capital Iron and Steel
Complex, built in the 1950’s and spewing out vast amounts of
pollution daily from its smelters.
Large parts of it will be shut down and what’s left will be
there’s the gridlock. Beijing’s
streets are clogged with an ever-growing number of automobiles.
Beijing’s buses are old and dirty and its subway system is
unable to carry the large amount of Beijing’s passengers.
about to change. Work
has started on one of two large six-lane highways that will circle
the city. And next year a new subway line and a light railway will be
the dirty, grey, smog-filled city is about to undergo a facelift. To prepare for the Olympic selection committee’s arrival
next spring, China has commissioned thousands of peasants to plant
grass (one blade at a time) to beautify the city, and every
boulevard will be swept spotless by brigades of women.
government plans to spend the equivalent of $18-billion (Canadian)
on anti-pollution efforts through 2008, roughly nine times what
China’s Olympic committee organizers estimate the Games would
are already splashes of colour around the city.
Money has been found to put up rococo water fountains, lay
new sidewalks in pink and green concrete, and some of the grey
skyscrapers have already been coated in pink and cream pastels, lit
by green and pink floodlights.
can see, rising out of the smog, statues of naked mermaids, plaster
knockoffs of Zeus on major boulevards, an eight-metre-high beer mug,
and a massive bean leaf meant for shade from the sun.
Beijing gets the Games there will by 5,750 sports venues by 2008
with 23 major stadiums to hold events.
And last year a new airport was opened that can move three
million passengers a month. Beijing
will have 72,000 rooms in 241 quality hotels and there are plans to
build a $500 million national theatre on the edge of Tiananmen
Square, to hold cultural events during the Games.
the moment there are secret police filling Tiananmen Square, trying
to stop the protests by falun gong members who are fighting for the
right to meditate publicly.
human rights record is still considered among the worst in the
there is hope. The
opening words of Beijing’s Olympic bid theme song are “Don’t
fear the hardship, don’t bear the challenge…keep the dream in