Beijing Puts On a Happy Face, Without Wrinkles

The New York Times looks at how Beijing is behaving as host:

The volunteers are part of a much larger script for what may be the most carefully stage-managed spectacle in Olympic history — a grand-scale version of the opening ceremony, intended to demonstrate to the world, and even to the Chinese, that the country has finally arrived as a world-class actor.

For one thing, the stage set has been expanded to include not just the various sports venues but the entire city of Beijing. The beggars and the homeless have been rounded up and banished from the streets. People have been urged to quit smoking and spitting, and to adopt the Western custom of standing in line for a bus, instead of jostling.

Entire neighborhoods, especially some of the mazelike alleys known as hutong, have been razed to make way for newer, less-unsightly apartment blocks. And some 40 million plants have been placed along the road to the airport and in baskets along the downtown medians. It is as if the city has been hermetically sealed in a way that would eliminate anything unpleasant.

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