History on canvas: Former American Paralympian Gregory Burns paints a section of the Forbidden City in Beijing on Sunday. He is the Paralympic ambassador of BHP Billiton Ltd, the sponsor of the medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Xinhua
As Beijing gears up for the Paralympics, its second sports extravaganza of the summer, a senior local official has said the promise of a "New Beijing, Great Olympics" is as yet only half complete, the Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.
Tan Zhimin, deputy chief of the Beijing City Building Headquarters Office for 2008, said that right from the time the city won its bid to host the two Games, it was always intended that a "Great Olympics" would pave the way for a "New Beijing".
"The Olympics have driven up people's expectations for further social and economic development," Tan said.
In 2005, the municipal government entrusted Tan's office to orchestrate the city's facelift. This involved coordinating more than 20 government departments in time for the sporting spectaculars being hosted by China for the first time.
Calling people "the source of the city's vitality", he said the goal of a more livable Beijing could not be realized without respecting public opinion.
From subsistence and entertainment to recreation and transport, a host of issues still needs to be tackled, he said.
Air quality, garbage and sewage disposal, the development of green spaces, and the building of emergency shelters for use in the event of natural disasters are all things that need to be looked at, he said.
"We know this is a long-term task. That's why we are seeking a permanent cure rather than symptomatic relief," he said.
Lin Zhiwei deputy manager of the environmental construction coordination department at the headquarters office, said governments at both the central and municipal level have summoned all resources available to honor the promise of a "Great Olympics".
"And this has turned the Olympics into a giant impetus to end the buck-passing culture and curb bureaucracy."
(China Daily 09/02/2008 page4)