China's Post-Olympic Challenge

While the Olympics highlighted China’s recent achievements, its efforts to gain a full measure of international respect and real “great power” status will not succeed until it matches its economic and military power with moral leadership. For strength unalloyed by checks and balances – and by a capacity for self-critical reflection – merely causes the rest of the world to recoil in fear.

NEW YORK – Almost everyone in the world who watched the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was impressed by China’s preparations, the acumen of the Chinese in running such a complex and challenging event, and the rich harvest of medals – especially gold medal – that Chinese athletes won.

It was abundantly evident in the run-up to the Games how important it was to Chinese everywhere to show themselves to advantage. One got a sense of this when China’s reputation and the Games’ status came under attack during the Tibetan demonstrations and protests against the Olympic torch as it made its tortured progress around the world.

But, when all was said and done, through what turned out to be often Draconian controls, China pulled off quite a feat! Indeed, it is hard to imagine that the British will care as much, or go to such extremes, for the London Olympics in 2012.

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