As the Beijing Olympic Games approaches, the preparations for the world sports gala have intensified and with all these there is an atmosphere of openness.
Things which were previously regarded as taboos are now put in the spotlight for public discussion.
On July 17, the anti-terror bureau of the Ministry of Public Security made public a pamphlet on the prevention of terrorist attacks, guiding people how to detect terror traces, and how to take measures to fend off dangers in case of a terrorist attack.
It also tells people how to carry out simple but necessary self-rescue in an emergency situation.
Behind the popularization of such common knowledge is a remarkable breakthrough the Chinese government has made in its traditional mindset.
The government now realizes that common people should be taught how to prevent terror attacks in case of an emergency, even if the knowledge may never be used in one's lifetime.
Another thing that testifies the country's openness is its permission of the sales of some foreign publications to domestic and foreign readers in the Games venues and dozens of hotels.
Meanwhile, foreign journalists now have more access to interviewing Chinese, if they had the interviewees' consent.
Over time, quite a lot of foreigners have had their doubts over the question as to how the host country can effectively prevent terrorist attacks and what attitudes it will hold toward foreign publications and journalists.
Now the doubts are being cleared by an open attitude and a series of measures the Chinese government has adopted.
Kevan Gosper, chairman of the Press Commission of the International Olympic Committee, said the Beijing Olympics would push forward China's reform and opening-up process after he had inspected the preparatory work for the Games.
He concluded the Chinese people would enjoy the benefits brought about by the country's further openness to and strengthening of communication with the outside world.
The Chinese government has won a high approval for its full openness and transparency in its earthquake relief work. It is also expected that a further openness and transparency in China's holding of the Olympics will also win the country much applause from the world.
Such unprecedented openness and transparency originate from China's self-confidence, which is based upon the country's belief in the improved perception and judgment of its people after the country has experienced decades of rapid economic and social development.
The anti-terror leaflet of the Ministry of Public Security, aimed at reminding people of a possible risk of terrorist attack, has not caused any panic among residents.
On the contrary, armed with such anti-terror knowledge, a possible chaos caused by terrorist attacks could be avoided and psychological stability could be expected among residents.
Giving the green light to the circulation of foreign publications and to interviews by foreign journalists would probably bring about some negative or even untrue coverage of China, in addition to some objective reports about the country.
We welcome those objective reports and even criticisms, and will hope to correct wrongdoings if there is any. For the twisted reports, the government will hold timely press briefings to refute rumors and give people correct information.
China's rapid economic development has brought to the people the best-ever benefits they have enjoyed in history, and the Chinese people should have a sober judgment about this. In today's society with developed information technology, no information can be blocked from the public.
The developed network of information has cultivated a reasonable perception among the Chinese people about the country and its future, which will not be influenced or changed by a few twisted reports.
The more the country believes in its people and their perception, the more confident the country would be. Similarly, the more self-confident and more open the country is, the more reasonable and stronger the perception of the people would be.
Keeping such a virtuous cycle alive would inject ceaseless vitality into the country's advancement.
The author is a senior media commentator based in Beijing
(China Daily 08/01/2008 page9)