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China Balances Host Role with Delicate Diplomacy During Olympics

Atlantic Monthly veteran writer James Fallows, who has spent a year reporting from China about everything from Beijing's pollution to the tightly controlled media, discusses the country's future following its turn in the Olympic spotlight.

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    James Fallows, welcome to the program.

    Looking back over the spectacle that's unfolded since that grand opening ceremony, have these Olympics done what China wanted them to do?

  • JAMES FALLOWS, Reporter, The Atlantic Monthly:

    I think that, on balance, China has to be happy with the way things have turned out here. A lot of things that could have been big, deal-breaking problems for the Olympics, starting with the air and starting with some kind of big demonstrations or disruption that got a lot of international attention, those things have not happened.

    Athletically, of course, the Chinese teams have done very, very well. So while not everything has gone exactly as most of the Chinese audience would have wanted, especially the withdrawal from the hurdles of Liu Xiang, the national hero, I think, on the whole, this has been a big success from China's perspective.


    Well, how does this differ from the national hopes and anxieties that an American might have felt about the Atlanta games going well, or an Australian about the Sydney games, or an Italian about the games in Turin? Was there something more riding on this for China?

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