Monday, July 21, 2008
Beijing Blog Reboot
It's hard to believe that it has been over a year since I went to China and the the Olympics are starting in just a few weeks. One of my other side blogs is called China Sights and it is a photoblog of the pictures I took during the two weeks we were there.
I've been pretty indifferent about keeping it updated but with the Olympics coming up I keep seeing news stories that relate to things I saw and did while there. There seem to recurring themes cropping up.
Pollution and Smog. Beijing is an amazingly smoggy city and officials have already starting cutting down on traffic and closing local factories to try to cut down on air pollution as this news story details. Many of the pictures I took had only limited distance visibility. I learned the need to have foreground interest in pictures.
The air quality has been a concern since Beijing was awarded the Olympics. My personal feeling is that the improvements will be noticeable but not enough to avoid some very serious concerns for the athletes. I'm dying to see the blimp shots of the Birds Nest Stadium through the haze.
Security and Restrictions. China is a very closed society with a strong central authority. While it may be a little harsh to call it a police state, the police/military presence is everywhere. Every morning when I would walk around the city, I would see small squads either drilling or exercising. As this other news story says, the security levels as the Olympics approach have gone up exponentially.
I think that the Chinese are paranoid over demonstrations that would embarrass them. The highest level of security we encountered a year ago was the checkpoint to go up on the overlooking Tienanmen Square. This is the famous wall with the portrait of Mao on the side. If someone were to unfurl a "Free Tibet" sign off the side of it, heads would role. Literally.
Progress versus Tradition. The Olympics triggered, or perhaps just enhanced, a building boom in Beijing as new buildings have been built and existing areas have undergone extensive renovations in preparation for their moment befoe the camera. In many areas older buildings are being razed which has caused some concern among preservationists and those concerned about tradition.
For the next several weeks I am trying to post two pictures a day. While not explicitly tying them into the Olympics, they will all relate in some way to Beijing preparing for the games. These posts tend to short and a little on the dry side. I'm not sure how I'm going to integrate the content into Foma* here. I may do digests or summaries or more tongue-in-cheek entries. In the meantime, go by and check out the pictures.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: Have you been following the run-up to they Olympics?