Changing China

Giant on the move

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50 days out, where’s the Bird’s Nest gone?


Fifty days before the Games open and Beijing was blanketed in smog on Thursday. 

Photographer David Gray went to take some pictures of the Bird’s Nest from a nearby apartment block and this is what he saw.

Smog engulfs the National Stadium, also known as the ‘Bird's Nest', on a bad pollution level day in Beijing

  To add to the discomfort, Thursday was horribly humid. I wouldn’t want to run a marathon at the best of times, but to do so on a day like this would be unpleasant in the extreme.

Photo by David Gray, of course.  


More on China’s ’08 generation


The Beijing bureau today continued its look at China’s ’08 generation, 19 years after the crushing of the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square and 64 days before the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Thousands of job seekers flock to a job fair in Tianjin municipalityRead Lucy Hornby’s piece about the challenges facing China’s college graduates here

Tiananmen Square – June 4


A young boy stands in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square after attending the flag raising ceremony at dawn

Tiananmen Square - June 4, 2008. 


Pictures by David Gray. 

Nineteen years after the crushing of the pro-democracy protests and 65 days before the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, check out Chris Buckley’s feature on  the ’08 generation and this video report on China’s new nationalism.

Liu Xiang’s game for a laugh


China’s world and Olympic champion Liu reacts as an official indicates he false-started in the Men’s 110m Hurdles semi-final at the Good Luck Beijing China Athletics OpenLiu Xiang, China’s top athlete, was the undoubted star of the show at the China Open Beijing Olympic test event at the Bird’s Nest last weekend and cruised to an easy victory over a weak field in the 110 metres hurdles.

Such is the national obession with his retaining his Olympic title in August, though, that two false starts in three days caused some consternation among his many fans.

Where next for the torch?


The national flag in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square flies at half mast in memory of those who died in the massive earthquakePreparations for the Beijing Olympics have understandably taken a back seat to the tragedy in Sichuan.

On Sunday, it was announced that the torch relay would be suspended from Monday to Wednesday to mark three days of national mourning.

Nick (& Mark & Dave), the torch and Everest – Day 13


rtr209tx_comp.jpgIf the word around camp is anything to go by, the final assault on the summit of Everest will begin in the early hours of Thursday morning. Journalists and accompanying officials have spent much of the day taking souvenir photos and snapping up post cards at the “world’s highest post office”.

The rumours would appear to be based on nothing more than collective will (or hysteria, perhaps).

Nick (& Dave & Mark), the torch and Everest – Day 12


At an early press conference today the novel inclusion of information we hadn’t heard before briefly raised spirits in what has become quite a downbeat media camp.

As the weekend snowstorms destroyed the careful preparations the Chinese had made on the mountain and a second week in Tibet became an inevitability, there has been a lot of talk about going home. Not just from journalists, either. Many of the officials who travelled with us from Beijing or joined us at Lhasa airport barely attempt to disguise their low spirits any more. I don’t know whether the cause is the altitude, the cold, the increasingly predictable diet, the lack of showers or just day after day of telling news-hungry journalists that there is no news. One of the senior officials told me again today that he thought we were getting “closer and closer” to “our goal”, while another said he thought our fond farewells would not be not too far away.

Nick (& Dave & Mark), the torch and Everest- Day 10



The foreign media contingent was moved from the huts to rooms inside the media centre late on Saturday evening, due to to the extreme weather. It was welcome, and much warmer. It seems it was by way of compensation for not taking us back to a hotel for a shower and a night in a proper bed, as we had requested. After the recent snow, the roads were apparently too dangerous.

One man who did get away was Joerg Brase of German television. Joerg had been suffering with high blood pressure ever since our arrival at the foot of Everest.

Nick (& Dave & Mark), the torch and Everest – Day 9



I heard excited cries outside our hut this morning and the optimist in me immediately thought the climbers had reached the summit of Everest with the Olympic torch.

A warm bath, clean clothes and bedding were only a matter of hours away, I thought, as I poked my nose over the top of my sleeping bag into the icy cold.

Nick (& Mark & Dave), the torch and Everest – Day 6



You’ll never guess who I met at Base Camp.

After a quick stop to watch the monks and nuns at the Rongpo monastery at prayer this morning, we finally got up to Base Camp proper this afternoon.


It was pretty bleak. Basically, a cluster of tents on an exposed rocky flat. It made us feel almost grateful for our humble cabins back at the media centre.