A former Italian table tennis player who trained in Beijing in the 1970s says he has been amazed and concerned over aspects of China's development on his first return visit in almost 30 years.
Bruno Ruffolo, a former member of the Italian national table tennis team first came to China in 1977 to train under Chinese coaches, and returned in 1978 and again in 1979.
On Tuesday, he was back in Beijing as a reporter for the Italian Radio and Television Corporation, touring northeast Beijing's rural Pinggu district for an event organized by the Beijing Olympic Media Center.
Ruffolo said he was amazed by the huge changes the country had made though he believed problems such as widening rural-urban gap still existed.
"The change was dramatic. It's difficult to recognize Beijing at the beginning," he said, adding he remembered 30 years ago there were no cars but only bicycles in streets.
Ruffolo was among more than 40 Chinese and foreign journalists visiting the fruit production village of Guajiayu, whose ecological protection efforts were recognized as "a model for new socialist countryside".
"The landscape of the country is completely different. The improvement is terrific, though there are a lot of problems such as pollution. The change in economic terms is very impressed," Ruffolo told Xinhua.
He said China realized thinking about environment was the only one way to maintain economic development, and the village was a nice showcase of environmental awareness.
Ruffolo said Guajiayu was isolated, but its ecological protection efforts could be replicated in many other areas.
He was excited to find that solar and wind power technologies were already widespread in the village. "They are the future of the world," Ruffolo said.
The tour was part of the media center's "telling our stories" activity. Ordinary Chinese, such as farmers, could tell their experiences so as to let the world know more about the host city of the Games.