Beijing, China and Beijing 2008 Olympics News

Beijing, China

One World, One Dream : the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Beijing, China and Beijing 2008 Olympics News

Olympic Volunteers

To help the Olympics run smoothly and assist the tens of thousands of athletes, organisers and visitors, will be an amazing volunteer corp of 100,000 people.

Beijing organizers have now (January) chosen more than 80 percent of the volunteers required for this year's Olympics and Paralympics from the biggest candidate pool in the games' history.

More than 800,000 applied to be volunteers for the Olympic Games while another 920,000 applicants are chasing 400,000 positions as 'city volunteers', according to Liu Jian, head of the Volunteer department at the Beijing organizing committee (BOCOG).

"Mencius says a just cause enjoys abundant support," Liu told reporters, quoting an ancient Chinese philosopher.

The 80,000 recruited volunteers, nearly half of whom are university students in Beijing, have passed exams and interviews, received general training and been tried out during a series of test events, Liu said.

More than 50,000 applications came from outside mainland China.

Over 500,000 visitors from overseas are expected for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Olympic Venues

In Beijing, there are 12 new Olympic venues, 11 upgraded venues and 8 temporary venues - 31 in all.

With the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on August 8th, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has made a discovery almost unprecedented in its history - everything is being built on time! More used to being shown empty construction sites and hearing tales of bureaucratic hold-ups, Olympic chiefs on a recent visit to China have been astonished at the speed with which the venues have sprung up for the 2008 Games.

The reputation of the country's builders for putting speed ahead of style also seems to be a thing of the past. Hein Verbruggen, chairman of the Olympic coordination commission, said he was "overwhelmed" on seeing such venues as the National Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics events will be held. This stadium has been nicknamed the Bird's Nest, because of its striking design of interlocking steel girders.

"These venues are iconic. They're going to be icons for the future here in Beijing, just like the Opera House in Sydney," said Mr Verbruggen. All venues are now completed, with the exception of the Bird's Nest, which will be finished by March.

New Beijing Airport Terminal is ready

According to its designers, Beijing's new airport terminal resembles a Chinese dragon. It was designed by the British-based architectural firm Foster and Partners (Norman Foster). Its structural plan is also a homage to the architectural marvel that is the Forbidden City. The skylights that flood the interior with natural light stick up from the steel superstructure like scales, making the terminal look from the outside like a giant uncoiled dragon. At the front, it nurses a turtle - the station for the new metro line which will rush passengers to the city centre in just 16 minutes.

With the world's longest sea bridge, the third-highest building, and what will become (around 2012) the biggest metro system already under construction, China's ambitions are not stopping here. "We are now planning a second airport," said Zhang Zhigong, the general manager. "We expect to start work on that in 2010." It will be ready in 2015, when Mr Zhang expects even his new dragon to have reached capacity.

Beijing's new airport terminal is bigger than all 5 of London's Heathrow terminals combined. It covers an area of one million square feet.

To give some idea of its scale, 500,000 tons of steel were used in its construction; by comparison, the Eiffel tower used 7,300 tons.

China has the Great Wall, the grandfather of all megastructures. And China has now also opened the world's biggest hydroelectric dam, the Three Gorges, in 2003, is building the world's longest bridge, from Shanghai to Hangzhou, and operates the world's fastest railway, from Shanghai to Shanghai's Pudong International Airport - the only commercial magnetic levitation train service in the world.

Olympic Cultural Squares

Beijing will be setting up 26 Olympic cultural squares throughout the city during the Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Large plasma screen televisions will be set up at the Olympic cultural squares to broadcast the Olympic competitions. In addition, the cultural squares will hold performances, themed exhibitions, sponsor activities, licensed product sales, food and medical services, among others.

The Olympic co-host cities of Hong Kong, Qingdao, Tianjin, Shanghai and Shenyang will also have cultural squares.

'One World, One Dream'

The five interlocked Olympic rings signify the joining of hands of the people of the world in a shared dream for a brighter tomorow. The Beijing 2008 motto : 'One World, One Dream' indicates our common desire for the Olympic ideals of excellence, respect and harmony (or peace / friendship). The Beijing 2008 Olympics aims to be a 'Green Olympics', 'High-Tech Olympics' and 'People's Olympics'.

The National Center for the Performing Arts

This center – which houses a theatre for opera, a theatre for plays, and a concert hall – is now open. It is a large illuminated glass dome that seems to float on a lake. The website is here (at present, chinese language only, but you can see what it looks like and some of the international stars who will perform there).


The Great Wheel of China

Work has now begun in Beijing to build the world's biggest Ferris wheel. When completed in 2009, the Great Wheel of China will be 682ft high, towering over the London Eye by 239ft - nearly twice as high.

Ferris wheels were regarded as something of a curio until the London Eye opened to mark the Millennium in 2000. Since then, it has had more than 30 million passengers.

The Beijing wheel will carry 1,920 passengers at a time, 40 people to each of 48 18-ton pods.

Tibet Railway - an engineering triumph

A record four million tourists will have visited Tibet in 2007, thanks to a new railway linking the Himalayan region to the rest of China (and a new third airport).

The number of tourists will have jumped over 60 percent from last year, bringing in an expected 4.8 billion yuan (650 million dollars) in tourism revenues, or 73 percent more than last year, to the region.

The new Tibet railway is the highest in the world with sections surpassing 5,000 metres (16,500 feet) in elevation.

The Tibetan railway opened in 2006, linking the region with the rest of China and offering affordable tickets to many Chinese that previously shied away due to expensive airfares, or horrendously long bus rides.

The air in Tibet is much thinner, having 35% to 40% less oxygen than at sea level and so the train cabins are pressurised and provide extra oxygen during the high altitude sections.

The 'Qingzang railway', 'Qinghai–Xizang railway', or 'Qinghai–Tibet railway', connects Xining, Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region.

The total length of the railway is 1956 km. The 1142 km section between Golmud and Lhasa was inaugurated on 1 July 2006 by president Hu Jintao. This railway is the first to connect central and eastern China with the Tibet Autonomous Region, which due to its altitude and terrain is the last province-level entity in the People's Republic of China to have a conventional railway. Trains now run from Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xining and Lanzhou. Beijing to Lhasa is 4,000 km.

The line includes the Tanggula Pass, at 5,072 m above sea level the world's highest rail track. The 1,338 m Fenghuoshan tunnel is the highest rail tunnel in the world, at 4,905 m above sea level. The 3,345-m Yangbajing tunnel is the longest tunnel on the line. It is 4,264 m above sea level, 80 kilometres north-west of Lhasa.

More than 960 km, or over 80% of the Golmud-Lhasa section, is at an altitude of more than 4,000 m. There are 675 bridges, totalling 159.88 km, and over half the length of the railway is laid on permafrost.

China's Space Exploration

In 2003, China became only the third country to put a man into space using its own rocket, after the former Soviet Union and the United States. It sent two astronauts on a five-day flight on its Shenzhou VI mission in October 2005. A successful lunar probe was launched in October 2007.

China plans to launch a third manned mission, Shenzhou VII, next year involving a space walk, and will probably mount a joint effort with Russia to explore Mars in 2009. There are also plans to build a space station.


Eleven more Beijing subway lines to be in construction in 2008

The operation of line No. 5 brought the city's rail mileage to 142 kilometers. With the operation of line No. 10 (first phase, including the Olympic sub-line) and the airport line in the first half of 2008, Beijing's rail system will increase to 200 kilometers to meet the demands of the Olympic Games. But that is just the start.

This year, Beijing will embark on the second phase of subway construction, by speeding up the progress of seven new lines, and start the construction of two others. The total planned rail mileage for 2008 is 270km, counting the 11 lines under construction.

Beijing aims to build an urban rail network of 440km by 2012, and reach a mileage of 561.5km by 2015, as a result of a planned investment of 170 billion yuan (about 23 billion U.S. dollars).

Beijing's Subway

Beijing's subway stations have begun using the automatic fare collection (AFC) system, bidding farewell to paper tickets.

On the first day of operation, the 93 subway stations saw about 1.92 million commuters use magnetic strip tickets or mass transit smart cards to enter and exit the subway gates.

Trains will run every 2 1/2 minutes during the Olympics period, with extended opening hours and some 24 hour bus routes. On April 30, it carried 4.3 million passengers daily, breaking its own record.

Beijing to Shanghai Express Railway

Construction of the Beijing to Shanghai express railway, the largest scale railway in the world, is soon to start.

The Beijing to Shanghai express railway will have 21 stations, including Beijing, Tianjin, Jinan, Nanjing and Shanghai, covering a total length of 1,318 km. Its trains will reach speeds of 300 to 350 km per hour, reducing the train travel time from Beijing to Shanghai from 12 hours to 5 hours.

China plans to spend 300 billion yuan (£21 billion) to build 4,500km (2,750 miles) of new railways this year. It seeks to extend the railway network to 120,000km by 2020, a length equal to three times the world's circumference.

Wind Power adds to Beijing's High-Tech Green Olympics

Beijing Guanting Wind Power Station has nearly completed its first phase of construction and will be ready for a trial run later this month (January). Beijing and its people will be able to use greener energy generated by thirty-three gigantic wind-driven generators.

When its first phase of construction completes, the station will be able to offer 100 million kWh of power a year, equivalent to 100,000 households' electric power consumption.

Green City, Green Olympics

Beijing's green coverage has reached 48% and its per capita public green space currently stands at 12.6 square meters, 48 square meters of green space for every person in Beijing overall.

By 2007 Beijing had already fulfilled its seven-point pledge made in its Olympic bid. In 2001, Beijing made a seven-point promise to built more parks and plant more trees to 'green' the city as part of its bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

Beijing's total forest coverage grew from 930,000 Hectares in 2000 to 1.078 million Hectares in 2007, a 51.6 percent increase.

In 2006, the city created more than 160 green spaces, and tree planting along the city's 'five waterways and ten highways' has resulted in a 23,000 Hectare greenbelt. In addition to the famous parks, there are now 60 free entry parks in the city.

Just as the city has become noticeably greener, some changes that are not so visible to the eye have also taken place.

In 2007, Beijing made impressive progress in building an energy efficient city: its energy consumption per unit of GDP decreased by 5.11 percent; water consumption fell by 9.6 percent and COD and SO2 emissions were down 3.2 percent and 13 percent respectively.

Olympic Flowers

Already famous for its widespread use of flowers to enhance the city landscape, Beijing will be home to an amazing thirty million flower pots that will brighten the streets, hotel reception areas, Olympic venues and scenic spots of Beijing in the lead-up to and during the Olympics.

This year will also see even more new trees planted. The government will focus on increasing the green coverage in more than 100 roads in 2007, including Chang'An Avenue, the Fourth Ring Road and the Capital Airport expressway.

Green space in Beijing has now reached 43%. In addition to the famous parks, there are now 60 free entry parks in the city.

Beijing's Hutongs

Today, 658 of Beijing's traditional hutongs are designated as protected from development.

Beijing's Olympic Panda Visitors

Eight giant panda cubs are on holiday from the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province. They spent the first two weeks adjusting to the new environment in Beijing Zoo's renovated panda quarters and recuperating from the trauma of the earthquake that struck near their home. The eight pandas are scheduled to stay in Beijing for three months.

QianMen Street

This historic 846 meter long road, that leads south from Tian'AnMen Square, was the path Chinese emperors took to visit the Temple of Heaven.

It will soon be characterized by rails on which electric trolley buses will run, recreating the scene from the 1920s and 1930s, with architecture dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The renovation has involved the bringing back of time-honored stores and restaurants which have retained strong traditions throughout the years. Before the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, Qianmen Avenue will be opened to the public, inviting visitors to enjoy its old-time atmosphere.

Free Wireless Internet, City-wide

Beijing's city-wide wireless network program will be up and running by August, enabling residents and visitors to access the Internet. Coverage takes in 100 sq km, including the areas inside the Third Ring roads, the CBD trade circle, Financial Street, Zhongguancun and Wangjing.

The network, which will be free of charge during this summer's Olympic Games, will cost users 0.12 yuan ($0.02) per minute after the Games with unlimited traffic. The speed will be no less than 512kpbs

The second phase of the program will be completed by the end of 2009, when the wireless network will cover urban Beijing within the Fifth Ring road.

Beijing 2008 Paralympics

The Paralymic Games will be held from September 6th - 17th.

Beijing Olympics 2008 news stories from XinHua, the official news agency.

Beijing Olympics 2008 news stories from the ChinaDaily, China's national english language newspaper.

Beijing Guide

Beijing Guide