What We Learned

Dr. Fei-Ling Wang published the following essay at the International Herald Tribune:

The spectacular and successful 2008 Beijing Olympic Games have given the world a lot to think about. It may be still early to fully assess the impact of the event on China and its future, nonetheless, three messages have emerged.

First, it is hard to overlook the capacity and power of the Chinese state.

Under an autocratic, increasingly corporatist and aristocratic party, the People’s Republic has shown how much it can spend for a politically important cause, even if it is, after all, just a sporting event that has been thoroughly commercialized in other places all over the world.

The unparalleled $43 billion price tag is just the known part of the expenses. By comparison, the last Olympic Games held in the U.S., in 1996 in Atlanta, cost only $2 billion. To ensure air quality and crowd control, a good chunk of the Chinese economy and society was shut down for two months.

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