Date of this Version
July 10, 2008 in The China Beat http://www.thechinabeat.org/
Exactly one month before the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games, all attention seems to be focused on those magic sixteen days, from August 8 through August 24. It is surprising, however, how rarely the question is raised: what will happen once the Games are over?
In the run-up to the Summer Games, China has been placed under an undeclared state of emergency. Special regulations and restrictions are effecting almost every of daily life. Taxi drivers and Beijing residents had to brush up their English and study brochures that explained how to stand in line and be courteous to foreigners. On a more serious note, vehicle traffic in the capital will be reduced for the time of the Games, and industrial production is being brought to a standstill across vast regions of Northern China, in order to ensure blue skies over Beijing and reduce the city’s notorious smog.
To heighten security, baggage screening – usually conducted at airports only – has been introduced at the Beijing subway, leading to incredibly long queues, even as the system has to deal with the extra traffic caused by residents unable to move via their treasured cars, and the influx of visitors. Travelers from abroad as well as foreign residents in Beijing had to deal with drastic new visa rules: embassies issue no more multiple entry visas, foreign students and self-employed foreigners can no longer extend their visas and must leave the country, and tourists must now produce return air tickets and hotel reservations to obtain their visas. Backpacking to the Olympics: meiyou. In addition, international academic conferences, cultural festivals, and music performances had to be cancelled for the period surrounding the Olympic Games.