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China and the Olympics
A Chinese worker cleans the Beijing Olympic countdown digital clock on display outside the national museum near the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 6, 2008. Finishing touches on the centerpiece venue of the Beijing Olympics are taking longer than expected, delaying completion by a month, a state-run newspaper reported Thursday. Preparations for the opening and closing ceremonies of the games have interrupted work at the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium, and it will not be completed until the end of April, the China Daily said, citing Jiang Xiaoyu, executive vice president of the Beijing Olympics organizing committee. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

A Chinese worker cleans the Beijing Olympic countdown digital clock on display outside the national museum near the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, Thursday, March 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

It is 115 days to the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and everybody in China knows it.

Countdown clocks to August 8th are all over this country — on every front page and TV screen and electronic billboard. In Beijing, the preparations have been monumental. A city, in many ways, remade. And the challenges around the Olympics — monumental, too. The whole world is watching. China is watching.

The Beijing Olympics were planned as a reborn China’s super debut. No expense spared. Around the world, that debut has gotten complicated. But it’s a fascinating story inside China, too…

This hour, live from Shanghai: the Olympic Games, inside China, and a look at China’s Olympic debut.

You can join the conversation. Are you gearing up for the Games? Waving a flag? A sign? What does it say? What are your thoughts on China and the Olympics? Tell us what you think, right here, and post a comment below.

Guests:

Jing Jun is a professor of sociology at Tsinghua University, best known for bringing attention to AIDS in China and for studying the impact on the communities resettled as a result of the Three Gorges Dam project.

Melinda Liu is Beijing bureau chief for Newsweek and writes the “Countdown to Beijing” blog. She opened Newsweek’s Beijing Bureau in 1980, and is president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China.

And with us in our Shanghai studio we’ll have David Westendorff, founder of UrbanChina Partners, an urban governance and management consulting firm based in Shanghai, and a former research fellow at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in Geneva.

Links:

Beijing Stops Construction for Olympics (The New York Times, April 14, 2008)
“Chinese officials laid out a sweeping series of measures on Monday that will freeze construction projects, shutter chemical plants and close down obsolete gas stations around Beijing, the capital, this summer in an attempt to clear the air for the Olympics.”

When politics gets in the way of the Games (Chicago Tribune, April 13, 2008)
Columnist Clarence Page writes: “Whether you support torch-snatching as a pre-Olympic event or not, this international embarrassment could hardly be aimed at a more deserving target than China.”

Beijing Olympics 2008 – Official Site
A massive site with articles, photos, and video, as well as ticketing information and purchase options.

Satellite View of the National Stadium
Google’s satellite view of the National Stadium, the “Birds Nest,” China’s new 91,000-seat stadium under construction in early 2008.

China Rises: Party Games
This episode of “China Rises” — a four-part documentary produced by The New York Times, Discovery Times, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation — looks at China’s experience of the Olympics through the eyes of five individuals: a candidate for mayor, a young member of the Communist Party, the artist behind the new national stadium, a 14-year-old Olympic gymnast, and a major Chinese airline CEO.

Slideshows:

Beijing Olympics
A collection of photos from Flickr showing the major venues for the August games, in various states of completion during the past year, and other Olympic images

Torch Demonstrations
The Olympic torch relay has attracted a wide variety of protesters and supporters. Here is a look at some of the signs they carried.

Videos:

This promotional video offers a tour of some of the new Olympic venues in Beijing:

And in this excerpt from a 2002 documentary, Chinese citizens celebrate wildly on the streets of Beijing in 2001 upon learning that China’s bid for the Olympics was successful:


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