Excited about Chinese culture and China’s unprecedented rise to the leading global economies, I spent the last 6 hours watching the opening ceremony of the 29th Olympics in Beijing.
A breathtaking show! Really impressive. The approximately 15,000 voluntary performers made a tremendous effort and impressed about 4 billion spectators around the world with their skill, discipline and above all, their culture. Dancers, material artists, acrobats and children from each of the 56 Chineseethnic groups were entertaining the 91,000 spectators in the stadium with an overly perfect acrobatics and light show. The 5 and a half hour long event featured the highlights of Chinese history and culture. Several Chinese inventions such as paper and gunpowder as well as other achievements played an important role. Especially the fireworks all cross the city and the national stadium, called “the bird’s nest”, illuminated the dark sky of the Chinese capital for hours. The size of the fireworks was enormous.
It’s no coincidence that the Games started today on 08/08/2008 at 08.08 pm. To the Chinese, 8 symbolizes prosperity. Therefore, today was a popular day for weddings not only in China but around the world. Next to the promising meaning of the number 8 in China, it’s also a date that can easily be remembered.
Inevitably, the IOC’s president Jacques Rogge delivered a speech. He spoke of a dream coming true for the Chinese, but beside the text, Rogge’s speech was poor. This man has absolutely no talent for speaking in front of people. What a terrible bureaucrat! He looked as if he were announcing a 50% sales collapse at a shareholders’ meeting. Of course, the Chinese officials who spoke of “green Games” (to achieve sustainability, it takes more than just wishful thinking!) were not really better in expressing their message, but their speeches were at least a bit more colorful.
The Olympic Games in Beijing can be considered as the acme of the Chinese rise which started three decades ago with the reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping which helped to lift more than 400 million people out of poverty in a short time – something no other country has ever accomplished. The Chinese government fears that the fast rise with growth rates beyond 10% annually could eventually slow down. Especially when the glitz of the Olympics will have disappeared in autumn and when dust storms from the desert cover Beijing, China will have to take one of its greatest challenges: the environment. The enormous environmental damage, the result of three decades of untamed, aggressive growth, are omnipresent not only when haze makes breathing harder all across the country. Acid rain occurs in one third of the nation, 90% of Chinese rivers are too polluted to be used for drinking water. The environmental issue, the great inequality in wages and high inflation with runaway labor costs threaten both, the social coherence and the competitiveness. Harmony – which is a basic principle of Chinese philosophy – is rare. People work hard, competition is fierce, chances are better than ever, but nobody wants to be left behind or rank behind. Air quality is a health problem in almost every city in China. Labor intensive businesses are increasingly shifting production to neighboring countries such as Vietnam or Bangladesh. China’s leaders are well aware of the numerous challenges. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Chinese officials are nervous when it comes to allowing more public participation and freedom.Is a global water crisis looming? China, India and other countries subsidizing gasoline to keep domestic prices down are forced to embrace electric cars