Beijing, After Olympic Games

The spectacular Olympics last year in the chinese capital, Beijing, heralded creditable improvements in the city's infrastructure. Traffic jams are much less and pollution has come down drastically. But the post-games euphoria is spoiled by unprecedented economic crisis. Adding fuel to the fire are the anniversaries of significant political events.

For the sake of the Olympic Games in August 2008, the government spent huge amounts for building a giant-size airport terminal, roads, subways and parks. For tackling pollution, car movements were restricted and polluting industries were shifted to distant locations.

Though the city thus benefited greatly from these measures, political controls and harassment meted out to human rights activists cloud the benefits. June 2009 marked the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown on protesting students. October will see Beijing celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of Communist China. Human Rights researchers are of the opinion that things are bad and may turn worse as October 1 is nearing. Repression, harassment and political pressure of higher magnitude are likely to be imposed on human rights activists and dissidents and they may be branded as beggars and sex workers for the sake of booking cases against them.

Pollution levels have come down not only because the industries have been shifted to distant places but many factories have been closed down shutters due to the global slow-down. The economic crisis has affected the tourism sector also and many glamorous hotels built during the Olympic games remain unoccupied, mainly due to visa restrictions that are being imposed on potential trouble-makers. But it is also pointed out that during summer, tourists' influx to Beijing remains low.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China laments that the government's pledge to extend press freedom beyond the Olympics games is not being implemented. But government sources refute this allegation stating that the foreign press was even allowed to report freely on the last month's Xinjiang riots. But it appears that problems still remain on this front because incidents of intimidation of sources and staff have come to the notice of the Club.

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