Beneath the surface of new structures and changing freedoms in China, the country has instituted broad initiatives ahead of its hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games. Scott Tong, China bureau chief for public radio's "Marketplace", talks about the run-up to the games.
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The games begin in just two weeks, and China is preparing for both the athletic competition and the huge international spotlight that will accompany it.
Among the last-minute steps: reducing the number of cars on the road to ease gridlock and pollution; putting the finishing touches on huge new stadiums; promoting major Chinese athletes, such as Yao Ming; and training police to ensure security and, to an extent still unclear, to control the actions of crowds and protesters.
Watching all of this play out has been a former colleague of ours. Scott Tong was a producer here for many years. He's now China bureau chief for the public radio program "Marketplace."
And, Scott, it's nice to welcome you here as a guest.
SCOTT TONG, China Bureau Chief, "Marketplace": Nice to be here.
So holding the Olympics is, you know, a huge thing for any country. Tell us, give us a feel, as you walk down the street, in what ways does it feel big in China?
Well, even before you walk down the street, when you land at the airport in Beijing, you start sensing these structures, these new things that are being built and just being finished.
When you land at your gate and you go to the main terminal, there's this rail connection, which is just about out of the "Jetsons." It's so modern, something I've never seen before. And then you walk into the main terminal and it's the same thing. It's glossy and shiny.