INTERNATIONAL

Olympic energy sweeps China

Smooth ride ensured: A stewardess guides journalists into the train of the subway Olympic Branch Line in Beijing on Saturday. Beijing opened three new subway lines — the Airport Line, Line 10 and the Olympic Branch Line — on Saturday.

Smooth ride ensured: A stewardess guides journalists into the train of the subway Olympic Branch Line in Beijing on Saturday. Beijing opened three new subway lines — the Airport Line, Line 10 and the Olympic Branch Line — on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: Xinhua

Parvathi Menon

New measures to be implemented to reduce pollution in Beijing

Beijing: There is a passion sweeping China — a passion generated by the popular enthusiasm for the forthcoming Beijing Olympics. The journey of the Olympic torch as it criss-crosses this vast country is greeted everywhere by happy and cheering crowds, and it appears to have knit the country behind the Olympic slogan of “One world, one dream.”

Olympic insignia adorn the villages, towns and cities. In Beijing, where this is particularly marked, flags, pennants, hoardings, installations and statues of the Olympic slogan, emblems, mascots, torch, and sportspersons are up all over the city, although in strict accordance with city planning regulations and aesthetic appeal. Images of the five Olympic mascots, Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini, whose names when read together mean “Beijing welcomes you” have been designed to specially reach out to children all over the world. Interestingly, Olympic souvenirs are only sold in designated and licensed outlets. This is one category of goods that has not entered China’s vast replication industry.

In the central Honqiao Market in Beijing where a close imitation of every international brand can be bought at a fraction of the original cost, for example, tourists will look for Olympic T-shirts, key chains and other memorabilia in vain. Their manufacture is strictly and effectively controlled by the government.

“I am so proud that my country is holding the Olympics,” exclaims 21-year-old Xu Yin Ting, a waitress at a coffee bar near the Hongqiao Market. Hailing from a peasant family from Shanxi Province, she has come to Beijing for her vacation to earn some pocket money, and participate in the Olympic carnival.

Enthusiastic volunteers

An army of volunteers have signed up for the Games and are being trained. Nearly a million people sent in applications in response to an appeal for volunteers, of which a little over 80,000 were selected. Chinese information channels are abuzz with news and updates on the games. The state-owned TV channels, newspapers, and of course the Internet, are updating people on every aspect of the forthcoming Games. For example, people know that come Monday, except for taxis and public transport vehicles, other vehicles can ply only on alternate days in Beijing depending on whether the number plate has an odd or even number. This has been done as part of an effort to reduce carbon emissions by 70 per cent. Many polluting industries, including a major steel manufacturing industry in Beijing, have been relocated outside, according to state TV. The Chinese themselves are expecting to perform very well in the 2008 Olympics, and particularly in fields outside of their traditional areas of strength. There has been much relief over the return of the star basketball player for China, Yao Ming, after an injury. Called the “Great Wall of China,” the country’s hopes are pinned on him.

At the Beijing Municipal Planning Museum, an exhibition is currently on show on the planning and architecture of the Olympic centre. The special design features of the many stadia and conventions centres constructed for the Olympics are illustrated through models. The Bird’s Nest, with its mesh of steel bands that cradle the stadium at the centre, for example, has no columns, thus allowing spectators a clear view. The China Daily, in an editorial on Saturday, said: “Everything is ready; all that is needed is an east wind.” With 20 days to go for the much-awaited day, and plans on schedule, it would appear that the east wind is already blowing.

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