Iconic Olympic venues are sprouting all over the Chinese capital. The national stadium is being woven in concrete and steel to resemble a bird’s nest. The “water cube” swimming center will soon be a giant box of blue bubbles.
Communist planners are making China’s dowdy, gray capital beautiful for the 2008 Summer Games. Now comes a bigger challenge: Can they make it polite, too?
That might be one hurdle too many, says the woman whose job is to convince Beijingers that common sights here ” spitting, swearing, belching and cutting in line ” are no way to welcome the world.
“Building the stadiums is no problem,” sighs Zhang Huigang, director of Beijing’s Capital Ethics Development Office. “But raising people’s quality and civilization is not something we can do in one or two months, or even one or two years.”