Changing China

Giant on the move

The one-month countdown begins

July 8, 2008

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    It’s a month to go! So, we sent our reporters out onto the street to speak to ordinary Beijingers to find out how they and the city are coping.

    ”I didn’t have much interest in the Olympics before the Tibet riots. After that I became to think: All right. If you guys are so keen to make us look bad, we’ll have to get things done even better. After the earthquake, I felt really sad and at one point even thought that it might be good not to hold the Games any more. But the reality is the country has poured in so much manpower, materials and money to prepare for the Games. As the Chinese saying goes, ‘there can be no turning back once the arrow is on the bowstring’.” – Zhao Qian, 26, a public relations officer for a European company

    “The Olympic Games is a national glory. I really look forward to it. Beijing has changed a lot in the past few years. The roads have become wider and the city cleaner. Terrorist attacks? I am not worried about that. Our country is strong enough and those who operate in the dark for bad things will be scared.” – Zhang Quanyi, 45, taxi driver

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    ”I am not going to watch the Games in the stadiums and I am not able to. What can I do with the 700 yuan ($102) I make every month? I also have to pay for my daughter’s education.” – A female street cleaner in her 40s on her morning shift to clean a street outside the Chaoyang Park in eastern Beijing, where Olympic beach volleyball matches will be held.

    “It might be inconvenient during the Games as I cannot drive my car everyday, but I am happy and excited about the approaching Olympics.”- Zhou Wenjin, 46, a government worker

     ”Bags must be checked when you take a subway, batteries cannot be sent by express mail. We are excited and extremely happy for the holding of Olympics Games, but it dwindles day by day.” - Jiang Yueming, 28, a graduate student in Renmin Universitymartial.jpg

    “I don’t feel the environment is becoming that much better. I’m not sure whether those security checks are efficient, but I’m sure I will cut some of the family’s unnecessary travels during the Games.” – Li Guang, 35, barber

   ”Security checks and traffic restrictions at that time will certainly affect my commuting, but I understand the government. Safety is after all the most important thing. If there have to be more troubles, then let there be more troubles. My father-in-law’s father-in-law really really wants to watch the matches, so we bought some tickets, mainly to fulfil our filial obligations. Personally I’d rather watch the matches on TV at home.” – Wang Nan, 26, a white-collar worker who already spends nearly three hours commuting every day.

(Additional reporting by Laura Liu and Ella Li.)

Photos (from top): A woman takes a photo of the National Stadium, also known as the ‘Bird’s Nest’, on a hazy day in Beijing July 8, 2008. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside. Visitors pose for a picture amid haze and smog at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. REUTERS/Reinhard Krause. Visitors walks past martial arts poster inside the Beijing Olympics Main Press Centre (MPC) during its opening in Beijing July 8, 2008. With 62,000 square meters of working space, the MPC in Beijing is the biggest press centre in Olympic history. It will be the central work place for the 5,600 accredited journalists and photographers covering the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV

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