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To foreign friends: Experience the real China
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16:18, August 08, 2008

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· Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
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"Of all the talk surrounding the Beijing Olympics, the toughest question remains how the Olympics will influence the way Americans view China – as the world’s oldest civilization? The country with a population of 1.3 billion? The country that massively exports goods and imports employment opportunities? Do we understand it? Haven’t we understood it for a while now?"

The above was published in TIME Magazine in the United States. As the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony is about to start, the world sees this ancient Eastern country through a lens of unprecedented concern, and the media are enthusiastically trying to give people a crash course on China. But seeing things for oneself is a hundred times better than hearing about them from others. Descriptions can only give people a vague image of China - somewhere between charming and worrisome. But the real story of China is hidden in this vast land.

Yes, maybe you know China. From the clothes you wear, the toys your children play with, the household items in your home, and other articles around you that were "made in China,"you have come into contact with the economic part of China. From newspaper articles and TV screens, you might have caught a glimpse of a piece of China. You might have come to appreciate the culture of China. But those are just cursory glances, and some are full of others'interpretations and comments, which are not enough to engender real understanding.

Today, the Beijing Olympics have put up a bridge of understanding. It is just like International Olympic Committee Chairman Jacques Rogge said, "As China is the host of the Olympics, it has opened a window for the outside world to understand the world’s most populous country.”

Amidst the endless discussion surrounding the Beijing Olympics, people have flooded into this country: athletes from 205 countries and regions, almost 30,000 journalists, and over 90 heads of state. Because the 29th Olympic Games are in China and there are so many people in attendance, modern Olympic history is being made. The number of tourists coming to China is even more of a record-breaker. Despite boycotts, doubts, criticisms, and other kinds of noise, people are standing with both feet in Beijing, wanting to appreciate China’s moment and the heartbeat of Beijing during the Olympics.

This is really an outcome of Olympic ideals. The platform for mutual exchange built by the Olympic Games allows people who were once strangers to come in, welcoming a display of different cultures, each one playing its own beautiful movement of music. As Olympic ideals fly freely over this ancient Eastern country, this is a significant juncture of Eastern and Western culture.

China’s history, achievements, and opportunities make it stand apart. As the country with the largest population, the fastest rate of development, the highest foreign exchange reserves, the fourth biggest economy, 5000 year-old cultural traditions, a social structure and values that differ from those of the West, and many different identities and traits, China is truly complex. It is a real challenge to push past many kinds of obstacles to decipher it and see to the core hidden beneath this city and this country.

Those who are coming to China during the Olympics will be able to find some answers for themselves. The Olympics are not only a competition, but also an opportunity to reveal China’s complexity and contradictions, which have never been depicted in Hollywood. This is also what we look forward to in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Sandschneider, a German expert on China, describes it well: "This may be an opportunity for Westerners with diverging opinions and standpoints on China to gain a more realistic perspective. This includes looking at China’s development in a realistic way.”

The enormous amount of effort made by China, a first-time Olympics host, comes not only from realizing a dream, but from a country that arrived late to modernization with a population of 1.3 billion. By shouldering the responsibility it has been given with enthusiasm and dedication, China hopes to show the world it is not merely an economic giant that rose quickly, but an important global player.

Beijing welcomes the world and waits for you to come to a firsthand understanding of China. A survey concerning the Olympics showed that 65 percent of Chinese cared most about "the image of the Chinese people and the world’s assessment of China."As we see it, this grand global event is not centered on a self-evaluation by the Chinese people. In the end, its value is determined by you, by the recognition of the world, allowing it to take its place in one hundred years of Olympic history.

China today will not bar voices of dissatisfaction from speaking out, because we strongly believe that in order to tell the world what China is really like, we must show the world the openness of China.

One may recall that in 2001 when China received the Olympic nomination, it promised the world, "We believe that hosting the Olympics will not only improve the economy but society as a whole, including education, health, the environment, and many other things."China is always on a journey to realize the one hundred-year dream of modernization.

By People's Daily Online



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