Two Beijing Olympics, two different China!
On July 13, 2001, Beijing won the bid for the Olympic Games.We watched as Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), spoke the name “Beijing” and thought about 2008.Seven years, seven years, seven years, another Beijing Olympic Games will open.Between the Beijing Olympics, the world is changing, China is changing, and so are we.Some foreign media called 2008 “the first year of China”, and many Chinese people also regard 2008 as an epochal year like 1978.Thus, the modern history of China can be divided into three periods: before the reform and opening up, the “turbulent 30 years”, and the new era since 2008.”2008: The Year of the Birth of the New Superpower”, the front page of The Independent on January 1, 2008, however, this division tends to make people ignore the great changes that have taken place in China since 2008, as if 2008 and 2022 have similar era profiles.In fact, many of the things that you and I take for granted, or even become necessary in life, didn’t appear until after 2008.Today, on the occasion of the Opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, we count the changes in the past 14 years.Around 2008, In preparation for the Olympics, Beijing built what seemed at the time to be the “project of the century.”But looking back, they are little more than footnotes in China’s broader infrastructure boom.On August 1, 2008, China’s first high-speed railway, the Beijing-Tianjin intercity railway, was officially put into operation with a total length of 120 kilometers.From this day on, you will be able to travel at speeds of more than 300 kilometers per hour.By the end of 2021, The length of China’s high-speed railways in operation exceeded 40,000 kilometers.In front of the Juyongguan Great Wall, the Winter Olympics train sped past with the opening of the Beijing-Tianjin intercity, as well as the rebuilt Beijing South Railway Station.With a total construction area of 320,000 square meters, it was known as the largest railway station in Asia at that time.When the station was built, a reporter asked: Would such a big station be a waste?Zheng Jian, former deputy chief engineer of the Ministry of Railways, responded that the design of the station matched the forecast of passenger flow.”It is predicted that the annual transport capacity of Beijing South Railway Station will exceed 66 million passengers by 2015.So the south station, which can accommodate 10,500 people waiting at the same time, is the right size.”In 2015, the Beijing South Railway Station handled 150 million passengers annually.At the same time, Beijing South Railway Station is no longer the largest in terms of station size or building area, and is surpassed by Xi ‘an North Railway Station, Zhengzhou East Railway Station, Kunming South Railway Station, Hangzhou East Railway Station, Nanjing South Railway Station, Guangzhou South Railway Station and many others.(The main station still has the largest floor space, but is about to be overtaken by Beijing Fengtai.) These high-speed stations have pulled apart the skeleton of a city.The network has changed the landscape of China’s economy.At the end of 2007, the expansion of Beijing Capital International Airport was completed and terminal 3 was put into use.The world’s largest single terminal, described by foreign journalists as “like a dragon”, will serve as a gateway to welcome international visitors for the 2008 Olympic Games.Today, the world’s largest single terminal belongs to Beijing Daxing International Airport.That record may be hard for another city to beat (chengdu Tianfu International Airport has bigger long-term plans, but not a single building), but since 2008, more Chinese cities have opened their own airports.In that year, The State Council approved the National Layout Plan for Civil Airports, ushering in a new round of investment in aviation infrastructure, mainly regional airports.For some remote mountainous areas and tourist resorts, the cost performance of regional airports is higher than that of high-speed railways.In the past 14 years, the number of civil air airports in China (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) has increased from 158 to 241. Passenger throughput has more than doubled, and cargo throughput has also doubled.But roughly one billion people still haven’t flown.According to the Outline of the National Comprehensive three-dimensional Transportation Network Plan, there will be about 400 civil transportation airports by 2035.”Except for some remote areas, we have basically achieved…The municipal administrative center takes 45 minutes to get to the high-speed railway and 60 minutes to get to the airport.Basically realizing same-day accessibility between prefecture-level cities.”The more than 100 cities without airports, and the people who live there, can wait.This is a map of Beijing’s subway system in August 2008. At that time, there were only 106 stations on line 8, including Line 8, Line 10 and airport line, which were opened to traffic just before the Olympics.This is a map of Beijing’s subway lines in early 2022, with 27 lines and 459 stations, as dense as a cobweb — and still weaving.The world’s longest subway loop, Line 10 in Beijing, didn’t start out as a loop.Beijing Railway Station, Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing South Railway Station and Capital Airport were not connected by the subway in the beginning.Big changes are happening not just in Beijing, but across the country.According to the Statistical Yearbook of Urban Construction, only 855 kilometers of rail transit lines were built in China in 2008, among 10 cities.By the end of 2020, 42 cities were close to 7,600 km, with another 5,000 km under construction.The scale of the one-hour living circle in 2008 is completely different from the one-hour living circle in 2022.In 2008, there was no wechat.The mobile version of Taobao has just emerged, but Alipay’s mobile payment function will be completed by text message.Of course, there is no Meituan, Didi, Toutiao, Douyin, Kuaishou or Pinduoduo.In 2008, there were few iphones in sight.Although Jobs unveiled the original iPhone in 2007, it wasn’t until 2009 that apple officially launched its iPhone in China.Remember?In 2009, the first year of the 3G era, the miIT issued three 3G licences at the beginning of that year.Then came the contract between iPhone and telecom operators, opening the door of the 3G era.In other words, 2008 is still 2G era.It is common for people to use Nokia, MOTOROLA or shanzhai phones, chat via SMS, watch the Olympics on TV, read physical books, use physical money, go out by asking for directions, taxi by waving, eat in restaurants, go shopping in shopping malls, queue for tickets in person, and live a life without express delivery (and no bills).5 yuan 30M flow can be used for a month.In 2008, the number of mobile Internet users was less than 120 million.In June 2021, the number officially topped 1 billion.It takes about 0.1 seconds to use up 30M flow.In 14 years, from 2G to 5G, from 120 million to 1 billion, from the TV broadcast of the Olympics to the “Cloud Olympics”.Behind this is infrastructure. 5G, cloud services and, above, high-speed rail are all new infrastructure.I believe there are many people who miss 2008. Maybe they miss their younger selves, maybe they miss the low housing prices, maybe they miss the feeling of fullness.Anthropologist Xiang Biao says the problem in modern society is “nearby disappearance”, before “the world around us” disappears.But to be fair, there were a lot of things we couldn’t eat, wear or use.Having seen the larger world, it may not be happy to go back.When The Independent described 2008 as the birth of a superpower, economic data for 2007 were not yet available. China’s GDP was still the fourth largest in the world after Germany, with a per capita GDP of $2,000 and 40 million people still living in poverty.Whether you call China a superpower or an emerging power, its GDP is only a quarter of that of the US.The US President clearly did not regard China as a major rival and was happy to come to Beijing for the opening ceremony.At that time, some people said that we were the whole nation in hosting the Olympics. We ourselves believed that it was a great event to show our image and boost our confidence.Few people at home or abroad think so any more.18% of global GDP, $12,500 per capita, elimination of absolute poverty, food, clothing and prosperity for everyone.We do not need to show the world high-rise mansions, glorious, more confident in the small to see the truth, do some big clever if clumsy things.For example, try to hold a “carbon neutral” Olympics.I look forward to the next 14 years, when the efforts we are making now will bear new fruit.I hope the next 14 years will be as memorable.Source: Wu Xiaobo Channel author: Ba Jiuling