Saying that little has changed since China hosted the Beijing summer Olympics of 2008 is not only an understatement but also the a lie to many who were present at the time who say China has changed a lot because when it hosted the Beijing summer Olympics, China then was considered a small and less confident power trying to come on the world stage, unlike today’s China which is more powerful, rich and confident and has also been playing a big role on the world stage.
The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic
Beijing Summer Olympics was the first time for China to host the games and was also the third time the games were held in East Asia, following the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, and the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, SouthKorea that helped to bring both countries on the world stage as Japan was recovering from the destruction of world war II and South Korea was emerging as a democracy and one of four Asian tigers in economic terms.
Beijing Summer Olympic also marked the second time the games were held in a communist state, the first being the 1980 summer Olympics in the Soviet Union with venues then in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Estonia.
Beijing was awarded the 2008 games over four competitors on 13 July 2001, having won a majority of votes from members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after two rounds of voting. The government of the people’s republic of China promoted the 2008 games and invested heavily in new facilities and transport systems in preparations for the games.
37 venues were used to host the events, including twelve constructed specifically for the 2008 games with equestrian events held in Hong Kong, making those the third Olympics for which the events were held under the jurisdiction of two different NOCs, the sailing events were contested in Qingdao while football events took place across several different cities.
The Beijing Summer Olympics of 2008 was watched by 3.5 billion people worldwide and featured the longest distance for an Olympics Torch relay. The 2008 games also set numerous world and Olympics records and were the most expensive summer Olympics of all time and the second most expensive overall after the 2014 Winter games in Sochi Russia.
The opening ceremony was lauded by spectators and numerous international presses as spectacular, spellbinding, and by many accounts “the greatest ever in the history of Olympics”.
The Olympic and World Records
125 Olympics records including 37 world records were set in various events at the games. In swimming, sixty-five Olympic swimming records including 25 world records were broken due to the use of the LZR Racer, a specialized swimming suit developed by NASA and the Australia Institute of Sports and only two swimming Olympic records remain intact after the games.
The Cost of Beijing Summer Games and Infrastructure Built
The Oxford Olympics study 2016 estimates the outturn cost of the Beijing 2008 summer games at 6.8 billion dollars, in 2015 dollars and cost overrun at 2% in real terms.
This included sports-related costs only, that’s (i) operational cost incurred by the organizing committee to stage the games e.g. expenditure for technology, transportation, workforce, administration, security, catering, ceremonies, and medical services, and (ii) direct capital costs incurred by the host city and a country or private investors to build the competition venues, the Olympics village, international broadcast center, and media and press center, which are required to host the games.
Indirect capital costs are not included such as for road, rail, or airports infrastructures or for hotel upgrades or other business investments incurred in preparation for the games.
The Beijing Olympics’ cost of 6.8 billion dollars compares with the cost of 4.6 billion dollars for Rio 2016 and 15 billion dollars for London 2012.
On 6 March 2009, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games reported that total spending on the games was generally as much as that of the Athens 2004 Olympics games which were equivalent to about 15 billion dollars and they claimed the surplus revenues from the Games would exceed the original target of 16 million dollars.
Other reports however estimated the total costs from 40 billion dollars to 44 billion dollars, which would make the games by far the most expensive games ever.
59 training facilities were constructed and the largest structures built were the Beijing National Stadium, Beijing National Indoor Stadium, Beijing National Aquatics Center, Peking Univerity Gymnasium, Olympic Green Convention Center, Olympic Green, and Beijing Wukesong Culture & Sports Center.
China’s Historic Transformation Since 2008
A lot has happened since 2008 when China hosted the Beijing summer Olympics because the reform made then propelled China’s economy to become the second-largest economy in the world for the first by overtaking Japan in 2010 with a GDP of 6.1 trillion dollars or 40 trillion yuan after growing at 10.3%.
China in 2021 attained a growth of 8.1% despite covid-19 to more than 114 trillion Yuan or 18 trillion dollars which is more than the combined GDP of EU member states at 15.7 trillion dollars accounting for 50% global recovery growth and has attained the high-income country status according to world bank with foreign reserve of 3.219 trillion dollars.
China has four of the world’s top ten most competitive financial centers which include Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shenzhen, more than any other country and China is also home to three of the world’s largest stock exchanges of Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Shenzhen by market capitalization and by trade volume.
As of October 2020, the total market capitalization of the Mainland Chinese stock Exchange, consisting of the Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange topped 10 trillion dollars, excluding the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with about 5.9 trillion dollars.
China was the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world as of 2020, receiving inflows of 163 billion dollars and it has the second-largest outward foreign direct investment at 136.91 billion dollars for 2019 alone.
As of 2018, China was the first in the number of billionaires with 658 Chinese Billionaires and the second in millionaires with 3.5 million millionaires.
According to the 2019 Global Wealth Reports by Credit Suisse Group, China surpassed the US in the wealth of the top ten percent of the world’s population and as of 2021, China was home to the largest companies in the Fortune Global 500 and 135 are headquartered in China.
China is also home to two hundred privately held technology startups or tech unicorns, each with a valuation of over 1 billion dollars, the highest in the world.
China is also the world’s largest manufacturing economy and exporter of goods and is also the world’s fastest-growing consumer market and the second-largest importer of goods.
China has also become the largest trading nation in the world and plays a prominent role in international trade and has been able to enter into free trade agreements with many countries around the world.
China also ranks 31st among the “very easy ” countries in the Ease of doing business index and 28th in the Global Competitiveness Report. China was also ranked the 12th per the Global Innovation index in 2021, the 3rd in the Asia and Oceania region, and the 2nd for countries with a population of over 100 million.
China is also a newly industrialized economy and ranks number one globally in patents, utility models, trademarks, industrial designs, and creative goods for exports.
China also has two which are Shenzhen-HongKong-Guangzhou and Beijing in the 2nd and 3rd spots respectively of the global top 5 science and technology clusters, which is more than any other country in the world.
China is also the leader in 5G technology with over 497 million 5G users and over 1.4 5G base stations. China is also home to the largest commercial banks in the world.
China also has built the largest extensive highway networks in the world and is also the leader in high-speed rail technology with over 70000 km of rail tracks.
China is also the leader in most sectors of Artificial Intellengace, the leader in Robotics, High Tech Manufacturing, Digital Currency and Economy, Electric Vehicles, Clean Energy, Tele-communications, Electricity Production, etc and is catching up in Space Technology after landing a Rover on Mars and being the first country to land a rover on the far side of the moon.
China is also building its own space station which is likely to be finished this year and we also welcome international astronauts.
It is wrong for me to say that I have written all the achievements or changes that happened to China since 2008 but at least this gives you a picture of where China is now.