Post-Olympics China keeps on building new Beijing

September 2nd, 2008 - 9:19 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Sep 2 (Xinhua) As the Chinese capital hosts its second extravaganza, the Paralympics, less than a month after the Olympic Games, local authorities admit their promise of a “New Beijing, Great Olympics” is only half complete.The “Great Olympics” had been conceived as a way to build a new Beijing, said deputy chief Tan Zhimin of the Beijing City Building Office 2008.

Tan said the Olympics have raised people’s expectations of further social and economic development which could not be ignored.

In 2005, Tan’s office was entrusted by the Beijing municipal government with the task of coordinating the plans for a facelift of the city.

This involved coordinating more than 20 governmental departments for the Olympics.

Tan said the government would continue to work to raise the quality of life for the residents of Beijing in the same spirit and with the same urgency it worked in preparation for the Games.

Livelihood of the urban poor, entertainment, recreation, transport — such are the various issues that needed to be tackled. They also include air quality, garbage and sewage disposal facilities, as well as green space and emergency shelters in case of severe natural disasters, he said.

Though detailed measures were yet to be released by the municipal government, Tan said the “New Beijing” theme would run through the tenure of the current city government headed by mayor Guo Jinlong.

“We knew this is a long-term task. That’s why we seek a permanent cure rather than symptomatic relief in preparations for the Olympics.”

As authorities, both at the central and municipal levels, have summoned all resources available to honour the promise of “Great Olympics”, even grassroots government staff knew that the Olympics-related work topped the agenda.

“This has turned the Olympics into a giant impetus to end passing of responsibility and curb red-tapism,” said deputy manager Lin Zhiwei of the environmental construction coordination department.

On Yuegezhuang Bridge, across the Fourth Ring Road in western Beijing, the common scene of hawkers distributing advertising leaflets had disappeared several months ahead of the Olympics.

But it took authorities a great deal of efforts and persuasion to change the mindset of officials who were to carry out the job.

The police, responsible for illegal business on the streets, refused to handle it in the first place, arguing it happened on roads where traffic police were posted.

The traffic police took over the enforcement but found they had no laws to book the hawkers. Recognising the fact that some of these hawkers were minors, they passed the buck to the civil service departments responsible for handling the under-aged.

The departments argued that their jurisdiction was confined only to relief stations.

After months of dialogue and a field survey, Lin and his team figured out a solution where police officers would remove the hawkers from the traffic first. The police would then step in to issue fines for adults or to escort minors to relief stations run by civil service agencies.

The rules have significantly slashed the administrative costs, said Wang Wei of the China National School of Administration.

“After seven years of preparations, most governmental departments felt it a mission impossible to build ‘New Beijing’ without the support from other departments,” Wang said.

“They recognised the significance of cooperation and came to know the value of it.”

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