How China has changed between two Beijing Olympics

Li Jiayao
2022-02-02 15:34:48
The combo photo shows that Xinhua correspondent Miao Xiaojuan (1st L) interviews Sandrine Nduwimana (2nd L), director of international liaison dept. of China-Africa Business Council, Andy Mok (2nd R), senior research fellow with Center for China and Globalization, and Alessandro Golombiewski Teixeira, professor of public policy at Tsinghua University, on China Chat show, in Beijing, capital of China, during Jan. 11-14, 2022. (Xinhua/Xu Yongzheng)

BEIJING, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Amid Chinese Spring Festival celebrations and enthusiasm in the run up to the Winter Olympics, slated to open on Feb. 4, expats interviewed by Xinhua have zoomed into China's dramatic transformation from 2008 through 2022.

"In 2008, many people were awestruck by the pageantry of the Olympics, but there was still the sense that China still had a long way to go," said Andy Mok, a senior research fellow with Center for China and Globalization.

"Today, what happens in Beijing probably matters quite a lot around the world," he added.


When asked about changes over the past 14 years, Mok noted that entrepreneurs in China are now "setting the pace."

"There's a joke that started a couple of years that, if you want to know what Amazon is going to do in two or three years, look at what the tech companies in China are doing today," he said.

"And the government has been very responsive to fixing problems, not only for entrepreneurs," he continued.

Since Beijing hosted its first Olympics, expats like Mok have experienced firsthand the many changes in this fast-paced country.

The combo photo shows that Xinhua's China Chat team interviews expats on the streets of Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 11, 2022. (Xinhua/Xu Yongzheng)

"I feel it's the safest city on earth right now," said South African girl Michaela Naidoo, who came to China in 2020 and works as a kindergarten English teacher. "So having the (Winter) Olympics being hosted here, it's better that way."

Bringing back the memories of watching Chinese gymnast Li Ning running through air around the membrane of the Bird's Nest to light the Olympic cauldron, then 12-year-old Michaela was just one of the many who were awestruck by the pageantry of the 2008 summer games' opening ceremony.

"China was trying very hard to establish itself as a big player for the last Olympics," said Michael Tunbjer, who came to China in 2007 from Sweden. "Today China is already a big player. It's not so more about proving anything, it's more about 'let's have some good games.'"

Alessandro Golombiewski Teixeira, a professor of public policy at Tsinghua University, moved to Beijing from the United States three years ago with his wife and 4-year-old daughter.

From the very beginning, he insisted on living in a nearly all-Chinese community to get a real experience of China.

"My life has been changing as every single Chinese has been changing," he told Xinhua. "The biggest change is the development process itself."

The professor noted that China has raised its level in education, culture and health, and that the country has been much more internationalized than before.

Daughter of Alessandro Golombiewski Teixeira, a professor of public policy at Tsinghua University, plays in their apartment in Beijing, capital of China, on Jan. 14, 2022. (Xinhua/Xu Yongzheng)


Teixeira believes that the Communist Party leadership is the core reason why China becomes what it has become, in addition to the nation's political system, strategic planning, and focus on education.

While recalling challenges like the once-rampant air pollution in Beijing, Mok stressed that he has been impressed by the effectiveness of the government system.

"It's able not just to set incredibly ambitious long-term goals, but also to achieve them in a consistent and methodical way," he said.

From 2008 to 2022, China has finished its development goals set in the 11th to 13th five-year plans, and has initiated its ambitious 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025).

Last year, China continued to lead the world in both pandemic control and economic recovery, with its GDP expanding 8.1 percent year on year and its goal of eliminating absolute poverty achieved. The country also advanced in fields like manned spaceflight, lunar exploration and large aircraft manufacture.

Picture shows the emblem of Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics (L) and the emblem of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. (Xinhua)

For Sandrine Nduwimana, director of international liaison department of China-Africa Business Council, China always stands out at the level of organization.

"When you assigned China to host Olympics, you can be assured that things are going to go well," said Nduwimana, who has lived in China for more than 14 years.

"Not a lot of countries will be able to host Olympics during a pandemic. It's something that only strong countries can actually achieve," she added.

Noting that athletes who prepare themselves for a lifetime would want to be in Beijing for the games, Teixeira said China is giving an example of a safe Winter Olympics.

"China took all the precautions. It did the impossible," he said.

Related News