Thursday, 4 September 2008


Bringing out the best in us

Our Olympics showed the world a dynamic, diverse China: the result of 30 years of reform

Fu Ying
The Guardian
Thursday September 4 2008

A question often raised after the Beijing Olympics is this:
in what way has it changed China - and where is the country
heading now? One of the most important effects has been on
the world's perception of China, and vice versa. The
Olympics brought the international community into China and
made the Chinese people feel closer to it. They understand
better the diversity of the world, and are more relaxed
about different opinions about their homeland. They are
more confident in expressing their feelings and thoughts to
the world.

The Olympics also opened up China more directly to the
world, thanks to the presence of 30,000 international
journalists. Much of their reporting helped to unroll a
panoramic view of the dynamic, diverse, modern China, which
is not free of challenges. After this encounter, hopefully,
there will be fewer cases of using old footage, photos or
stereotypes to present today's stories.

For the Chinese people, hosting the Olympics is a
century-old dream come true. For 16 days the whole country
was immersed in excitement brought by the magic of sport as
well as the close encounter with the world. About half a
million people watched the games in Beijing and other
cities every day, in addition to the hundreds of millions
of television viewers.

The Olympics brought out the best in the Chinese people.
They cheered enthusiastically for athletes, both Chinese
and international, and for all endeavours, successful or
otherwise. Most noticeable of all were the smiling
volunteers who appeared everywhere, eager to help. The
Paralympics will be another opportunity to celebrate our
common humanity.

The success of the Olympics was not an overnight effort.
Only we in China know how hard the journey has been. It was
the culmination of seven years of painstaking preparations
and 30 years of persistent reform, during which a planned
economy was incrementally replaced by a market economy,
semi-seclusion gave way to growing openness, and human
rights gradually improved. The success of the Olympics has
strengthened our commitment to continue these reforms.

Of course, the games have not altered the underlying
realities. China remains a developing country with a per
capita GDP that is one twentieth of Britain's. It still has
a long way to go in meeting the challenges of development
and building a harmonious society for all its people.

Over the past three decades we have been through a vast
amount of change, more than many countries. We have learned
a lot from the west. As ambassador, I receive a continuous
flow of delegations from China to study Britain's
governmental and social management, legal structure and
technologies. But China should not be expected to become a
carbon copy of a western society. It will develop democracy
and prosperity in line with its own culture and social

Our continued growth will be achieved only through closer
integration and cooperation with the rest of world. A
relationship between China and the west based on mutual
understanding, respect and cooperation is what we desire.

Britain certainly made its name at our games, not only
thanks to the thrilling performance of its athletes, but
also with the dazzling eight-minute show that followed the
flag handover. People have already started to compare
Beijing with London, but I believe that each Olympics,
while building on previous efforts is unique. I am sure
that London will do well in 2012.
· Fu Ying is the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom

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