This is the contemporary politics of China, seen through the eyes of the student looking for a spot in the Communist Party, the party official on the campaign path, the artist who endured the past, the communist who became capitalist, a Buddhist, and the child wobbling on the border of the nation's self-esteem. They're all performing an act in the party games.
Another day begins for the laborers at the most significant building ground in China. On their faces one can see the sparkle of too many fake dawns and on their backs the load of many "isms." Their forefathers handled feudalism, colonialism, and imperialism. Today communism is advancing in parallel with capitalism towards yet one more beginning. They are constructing the Olympic stadium, the outlet for China's coming out party in 2008. China, 1/5 of the world's inhabitants, is changing itself.
The numbers are staggering. It now uses 1/3 of the world's steel and almost 1/2 of its cement. But what kind of society is China crafting? Like the Olympic stadium ground, the country's development is puzzling, confusing, and on a scale that is both mind-boggling and awesome.
Xiao Sha, an Olympic athlete at age of 14, is a long way from home. Her family hasn't seen her in three years. They are in Guizhou, one of the most impoverished provinces in the country and she is in Beijing. It's a new training centre, and it shimmers with perseverance. Instructors have been brought back from America; children have been pulled out and are now being groomed, all for the nation's dignity.
Xiao Sha is seen as a potential gold medal winner, but she can also be seen as a political spectacle of China. The message of the Olympic clock, overlooking Tiananmen Square, is unmistakable. China has revolved the term "developing country" from a banality into a fact.