The Olympics Have Put China’s Inward Turn on Prominent Display

Olympic workers in protective gear walk through the Beijing Capital International Airport as they work to assist passengers ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Beijing, Jan. 31, 2022 (AP photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth).
Olympic workers in protective gear walk through the Beijing Capital International Airport as they work to assist passengers ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Beijing, Jan. 31, 2022 (AP photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth).

On Aug. 7, 2008, I boarded a flight from Shanghai, leaving China for the last time as bureau chief for The New York Times there, on the very eve of the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Rather than cover it in person, I watched the grandiose show, or at least some of it, from the remoteness of Virginia. Given the scale of China’s investment in hosting the Games for the first time, I thought the Olympics were an especially good bookend for my six years living in the country, but I didn’t need to be there myself. […]

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