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Beijing May 27, 2002 - Beijing and the 2008 Olympics

BEIJING PERPETUAL HAZE

By Bob Van Leer

  (BEIJING, CHINA - Monday, May 27, 2002) - This morning we got up early and took a two hour, 40 minute flight to Beijing, capital of China.

  We flew an Air China Boeing 777, not the line owing the plane that crashed and killed almost 300 persons two days ago. That was China Airlines.

  Beijing has a perpetual haze, otherwise the day was bright. Beijing's population is in the 11-12 million range.

   Our first meeting was with Jiang Xaioyu, vice president of the Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad. Beijing is hosting the games in 2008. Jiang said he has a staff of 60 now which will built to 300 in two-three years and up to 4000 by 2008. This is a major production and he estimates the total cost for the operation of the games will be $1.625 billion.

  In late afternoon we visited Tianenmen Square, the huge ceremonial area in downtown Beijing. Our guide told us if we saw any demonstrations (which we didn't) that we should refrain from photographing them. The square was alive with peddlers hawking kites, medals, The Thoughts of Mao and other cheap merchandise. Mao Zedong's tomb is at one end of the square, but we didn't go to see his corpse, which is on display as is Lenin's in Moscow.

  One observation I had about Beijing, which our guide said is correct, is there are far fewer bicycles and more automobiles than during our visit in 1991.

  Tomorrow we will start the day with a visit to the Great Wall.

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