Is Beijing Ready for the Olympics?

Li Zhiqi (李志起 ), a Beijing businessman and blogger writes on his blog, partially translated by CDT:

On my way back to home the day before yesterday, I saw fireworks in the sky above the Olympics Village. It was the rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony on August 8th. Patterns of smiley faces, flowers, suddenly changed people’s mood. The Olympics is so close to us now.

I was asked to say “Olympics, Beijing is ready for you!” on camera after an interview with a news program on Beijing TV yesterday morning. I don’t know why, but somehow I was at a loss for words at the request.

Are we ready for the Olympics? It looks like we are. Since I live close by the Olympics Village, I could see everyday that all the venues inside the Village have been completed, green spaces have been cultivated, teams of armed police are on duty, and tens of thousands of volunteers are being trained. Beijing is decorated with flowers and trees at all corners and looks prettier than ever before…

However, are we really ready? Although the municipal government has ordered all street shops to use uniform decoration materials, all buildings in the neighborhoods around Yayuncun have been newly-painted, and the pavements have been replaced several times (from gravel to cement brick and then to granite), I still feel that we are not ready yet in some ways.

For instance, drivers in Beijing still scramble for lanes and cut in lines. We still don’t wait in line when entering department stores or getting on elevators. Very few people use tissue when they spit in public, but shoot their sputum out with a loud noise “Pei”. We often find that the tissue supply runs out in public bathrooms, including those at the Capital Airport. And many people do not have the habit of flushing the toilet after they’ve used it. We have much better airplanes, but they frequently go behind schedule, and flight attendants are still impatient. I think most people haven’t realized what the Olympics has to do with their lives and what they need to do for it. They just regard it as a kind of entertainment…

I can’t stop worrying whenever I think about these problems. Is my worrying unnecessay? Perhaps we don’t need to prepare so carefully for the Games. It might not matter much if we don’t park our bikes in orderly lines. It could be all right if we don’t know how to greet foreign visitors in English. When we dry our underwear on our balconies, we might not need to worry that it could affect the aesthetic feelings of foreign guests.

We don’t need to pretend to be modest and humble, nor do all of us need to pose as nationalistic. Actually it doesn’t matter much whether the Olympics is a sign of China’s rising-up or not. As the Himalayas don’t need to convince people that they are high mountains, China doesn’t need to prove its growth with a landmark event.

The Olympics might be an honor to China as a country. But to individual residents, it may mean inconvenience on their daily lives. As we Chinese have the traditional merits of endurance, patience and modesty, I believe that we could all understand and accept the strict measures Beijing municipal government put forth for the Olympics.

Although my family live close by the Olympic Village, I feel that we are far away from the Games. I can’t agree more when I heard officials say that it’s the biggest fortune to host a safe and sound Olympics. Safety is a fortune. China needs it, and we need it, too.

Another blogger wrote on his “A Lonely Talker” blog:

For the security of Olympics, the government mobilized the state and society, including troops and volunteers. There is nothing wrong with this. But to make the citizens in the whole country nervous, that is not very pleasant. For example, I live in Hebei Province, neighboring to Beijing, so it should be a little busier than other provinces. But this [ measures] has been making everyone here highly nervous and even scared. It is really not neessasary. Not even mentioning government agencies, even remote villages are being required to have personnel on guard twenty-four hours a day. The most ridiculous part is that the government banned all crowds from gathering, even various training programs have been stopped. The reason is to prevent terrorists from making trouble in crowded gathering places. The national television-course university entrance exam has also been canceled. All testing papers that were already in place at the testing locations have been sealed and have to be guarded day and night.