At the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 the Mayor of Beijing, Mr Guo Jinlong, handed over the Olympic Flag to the Mayor of London, Mr Boris Johnson. Since then people could not help wondering how the UK would once again wow the world.
Four years ago there was doubt and uncertainty about how the Beijing Olympic Games would turn out. The world gave Beijing a chance. In turn Beijing rewarded the world with a pleasant surprise.
Four years on, the Beijing Olympic Games has gone beyond being just a grand sports gathering, where both Chinese and British athletes scored high. It has left a profound legacy for China as a country.
Of course, part of the Olympic legacy is visible assets. They are the spectacular sports stadiums like the “Bird’s Nest” and the “Water Cube”. These stadiums are in constant use.
The visible legacy must also include the state-of-the-art transport infrastructure such as the T3 terminal of the Beijing Capital International Airport, the expanded underground rail network and the express road networks. These facilities have become indispensable in the everyday life of our capital and improved public facilities in culture, tourism and the environment.
Previously, Asia had hosted two Olympic Games, Tokyo in 1964 and Seoul in 1988. These two games had greatly advanced the modernisation process in Japan and the ROK. Likewise, the Beijing Olympic Games has also become a milestone in China’s progress.
In hosting the Olympic Games, Beijing achieved massive gains in its modernisation. Yet more importantly, the Beijing Olympic Games has left a wealth of cultural legacy for the whole of China. It has transformed China in several aspects.
China has become more confident. The Beijing Olympic Games was China’s long held dream coming true. It was also a symbol of China’s maturity after many years of growth.
The 2008 Games placed China on the global stage. This focus in the global spotlight helped China cope with much greater attention from around the world in a calm and confident way as befits a major country, no matter whether it is being complimented or criticised.
China has become more open. The Beijing Olympic Games was China’s debut on the world stage. It helped China send out a strong message of engaging with the world. It strengthened China’s conviction in openness.
Through the Beijing Olympic Games, China is now even more committed to peaceful development and fully aware of a big country’s responsibilities. At the same time China has become more inter-connected with the world. The Beijing Olympic Games offered a great opportunity for Chinese ideas to interact with those from other parts of the world.
The three guiding principles of the Games – green Olympics, high-tech Olympics and people’s Olympics – made the Chinese people far more conscious about environmental protection, scientific innovation and all-round development of themselves.
As a result, sustainable development and a clean environment is our basic goal now. The government is putting more stress on scientific innovation and shift of growth model. Civil participation and voluntarism is nothing new in today’s China.
My British friends often tell me that Beijing has set the bar too high for London. The 2008 Beijing Olympics would be a tough act for London to follow. My reply is there is no uniform criteria for the success of an Olympic Games. As long as the host presents interesting and creative ideas and athletes bring out their best in competitions, then the Games will be successful.
I believe these are exactly the strengths of the UK. Britain has a reservoir of wisdom and resources. It leads the world in ideas and creativity. This is why China has laid so much emphasis on cultural exchanges with the UK.
For the very purpose of boosting China-UK cultural and people-to-people exchanges, Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China Mr Li Changchun and Chinese State Councillor Madame Liu Yandong are visiting the UK.
They will attend the China Market Focus event at the London Book Fair and Madame Liu will launch the high-level people-to-people dialogue with her UK colleagues. Their visits will certainly lend a new impetus to strong and sustained growth of China-UK relations.
I strongly believe that, like China in 2008, the 2012 London Olympics will be a great success and leave a lasting legacy for the British people.
By Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK
First published on Telegraph