Published February 21st, 2009 by Mliesie

Beijing (still) welcomes you..

…. and so does Qingdao!

Upon arrival in Beijing, about 6 weeks ago now, I could still see many Beijing Olympics 2008 related signs, notices and shops. While visiting Qingdao, a week and a half or so ago, the same thing.

SC and I walked the pedestrians path along the shore, from the Old City to the Olympic Marina (as they still call it and probably will call it forever) and further. The area around the Olympic Marina had banners out for the Volvo Ocean Race that had a stopover there at that time, but also banners and other memorabilia from the BJO 2008. Especially in the Marina itself. Walking around the Marina we saw many buildings that were especially built for the Olympics and all of them were empty and seemed to slowly fall apart. Some of them were actually being torn down! Can you imagine… so much money spent on building these amazing facilities and within 4 to 5 months half of them are being demolished or will fall apart sooner or later.

Seeing this, I wondered if it has been worth hosting the Olympics. People were driven from their homes, billions of yuan were spent on new facilities, factories were shut down, special measures taken to reduce pollution and all else China did to make it the most successful Olympics ever. At that time I think they really did a good job and it seemed that it was mostly good for China and for the rest of the world. Now, seeing how much is still left of the BJO as a good memory (?), or as proof of what was achieved, seeing how much is being demolished and wiped out and with the worldwide financial crisis, I can only hope that China will be able to earn back all the money spent, that the Chinese stay proud of their country and can continue to welcome travellers from all over the world.

Upon arrival in China, about 6 weeks ago now, the airport was quiet, no long lines at the customs desk, no huge groups of foreigners as were there in the years before. All around me it seems I see less foreigners, I hear about people losing their jobs (both in China and abroad), Hillary Clinton will have a talk with Hu Jintao and one of the keypoints will be the financial crisis, I hear less Chinese talking about China as passionately as they did over the last few year. So…. has it all been worth it, or will the world focus her attention on another country? Will the world critisize another country as she did China? Will China go under or has she become stronger?

Only the future can tell……

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