Rains came to Beijing, despite the ‘rockets’ (A Beijing Diary)August 10th, 2008 - 5:27 pm ICT by IANS
By Tarun Basu
Beijing, Aug 10 (IANS) The rains finally came, despite the firing by Chinese authorities of thousands of rockets with silver iodide crystals directed at the heavens in the largest rain-dispersal operation possibly conducted by any nation in recent times to prevent showers from playing spoilsport and marring China’s show at the Olympic Games. It rained since early morning, delaying some events like tennis. But the rains, mercifully for the organisers, were not very heavy, and the competitions were not seriously disrupted.
But the skies remained overcast, with occasional drizzle, sending the rain-dispersal rocket squad on its job again.
“We fired a total of 1,104 rain-dispersal rockets from 21 sites in the city Friday, which prevented a rain belt from moving into the stadium,” meteorological bureau chief Guo Huo was quoted as saying.
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Prakash Karat, the ideologue of the Left movement in India, may not approve, but Coca-Cola, the American multinational, is high up on the privilege list of the Communist Party of China (CPC), so much so that Coke chairman E. Nivell Isdell was invited to serve as a torchbearer in the final leg of the torch relay Friday.
China is the company’s fourth largest market by volume but Isdell believes that one day it will be the largest.
“I think this (the Olympics) is the genuinely coming-out parade for China,” Isdell told the China Daily. “It is going to change positively the perception of China - and change China in terms of its engagement with the world.”
Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft drinks manufacturer, came to China in 1928, the same year the company first became an Olympic sponsor. Coke now wants to “maximize its opportunity in China”.
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Companies like Coke, eager to expand in the booming Chinese consumer market, are also jumping on the ‘green’ bandwagon. The air-pollution controversy, that plagued China right up to the Games’ opening, has made the government and party give serious thought to cleaning up the environment and making factories and businesses fall in line to ensure clear air and water.
Hundreds of factories were closed down in and around Beijing to improve the air quality that has, according to locals, improved tremendously in the weeks leading up to the Games. Traffic restrictions were introduced, cutting down drastically the movement of vehicles in the city.
Now there is a popular demand to make the system of having odd and even number vehicles running on alternate days permanent, with more and more people going back to bicycles and enjoying that as well.
Cycle tracks are a feature of every major road and cyclists are respected by heavy traffic and get the right of way.
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Everyone is trying to capitalize on the tourist boom in the city as thousands have landed here for the Olympics from all over the world. Not to be left behind are small eateries that are trying hard to compete with the large restaurants. On one of the major avenues, one noticed this tiny eatery with the following welcoming sign:
“The People’s Commune of Hutong Food Culture invite the people who like eating and drinking to carry out a real food revolution.”
Different prices are written for different categories of diners - for single people, for families and, a special one, for lovers.
From humble noodles and dumplings to exotic satays of bugs, snakes and scorpions, it has something for everyone, as do most restaurants and food stalls in the city that just loves to eat out.
Sometimes the English translation of some dishes can be piquant, like Boiled milk with meat (for a stewed mutton dish), or Aborigine gril (for grilled egg-plant) or French cow orderly (for beef-based dish).
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Punters are betting on hosts China attaining sports supremacy at the Games, pipping the US. According to the Financial Times, punters have abandoned the US “with stunning speed”.
In Sydney, in 2000, the US was the hot favourite at 1-6, while China was a 40-1 outsider.
Even in Athens in 2004, the US was the top dog, with odds of 1-5. But China’s remarkable showing, just four golds behind the US at the last Olympics, shortened the odds on them this time on their home turf.
The odds have now shortened even further and bookmakers, some reports say, have been flooded with bets on China establishing itself as not just a greater organiser and host but the pre-eminent sporting power.
Tags: air pollution, bureau chief, change china, china daily, china x, chinese authorities, chinese consumer, communist party of china, dispersal, isdell, meteorological bureau, occasional drizzle, olympic sponsor, rain belt, silver iodide, soft drinks, spoilsport, tarun, torch relay, torchbearer