Welcome back one and all to the October edition of Fact or Fiction. Those of you who read any or all of the last ten will know, every edition I will have a guest and we will discuss a few of the big issues in China of the day. Every answer will have a “Fact” or a “Fiction” and some justification to go along with it.
My guest today, Sara is a fellow inhabitant of the great City of Five Rams. Sara Jaaksola always had a dream about visiting China. But only in February 2010 she found the way to make it true and is now enjoyning her life in Guangzhou. In her blog, Living A Dream In China, she writes about her life, experiences and studies in this amazing country.
In less than 2 weeks Guangzhou plays host to the Asian Games. Given we both have front row seats to the construction and hype, it seems like a pretty logical talking point. So, join us today for Fact or Fiction XI: Let the Games Begin!!!
1. Guangzhou will be ready for the Asian Games.
New Delhi this is not! I realize that there is still some construction going on, when it should have finished September 30th. However, I recall people having similar concerns back in 2008 in Beijing, but they not only finished everything, but exceeded expectations — expect Guangzhou to do the same.
The Asian Games are the number one thing in Guangzhou right now. I am sure that the city will do anything to finish renovations and buldings on time. There seems to be a lot of work still needed to be done, but I am convinced that Chinese people can do miracles when it is about giving face to the city and the whole country.
So far so good! Boy will we ever be embarassed if this turns into New Delhi 2.0! 1 for 1
2. Guangzhou will become more of a tourist destination after the Asian Games.
As much as I would love to see this city become a glamorous tourist destination, I just don’t see that happening. The Asian Games are hardly the Olympics or Expo, and the Tianhe Sports Complex is hardly the Birds Nest or the China Pavilion. Beijing and Shanghai both attracted a huge amount of foreign visitors for their big events, and I just don’t see Guangzhou doing the same. I think that the vast majority of spectators to the events will be Chinese nationals or expats living in the Pearl River Delta. Both of which already come to Guangzhou as it is.
Asian Games will surely attract a lot of Asian tourists and the city will be like a beehive in November. But to become a major tourist spot Guangzhou would need more. Beijing has its cultural sites and Shanghai is a modern metropolis. But Guangzhou is still more the factory of the world than an appealing tourist destination.
So I guess we won’t be seeing more visitors, maybe we like it that way! 2 for 2.
3. The physical changes to the city have been mostly positive.
The first time I came to visit GZ was in January 2010 when the construction was well underway. Since then, there have been new museums, subway lines, apartment buildings, and great restaurants opened. I’m very excited to see this place after the last bits of construction are done. I remember being in awe of Shanghai’s pre- and post-Expo transformation, and I’m excited to see it here.
Changes seem to be mostly positive. The public transport has improved a lot and will be free during the games. New roads have been built and older ones renovated. But there are also downsides coming along the Games. One of the stadiums is located in the University Town and the villages on the island have been almost completely surrounded with ugly looking walls. The people living there are greatly dissapointed with this renewal.
Continues to look great. Time to switch things up. 3 for 3
4. Guangzhou will host another major international event (e.g. Olympics, Expo) in the near future.
After Asian Games the second biggest event might be the Canton Fair that is held every spring and fall. But usually a same city doesn’t hold many Olympic-scale events in a short time span. First it was Beijing, then Shanghai and now Guangzhou. I think next time it will be some other city’s turn.
Yeah I totally agree. Guangzhou is a great place for an upper-medium sized event like the Asian Games, but it may not have the infastructure or global recognition to handle something like Beijing and Shanghai have. Were I a betting man, I would think that the next major event in China would be a Winter Games (not necessarily the Olympics mind you) in Haerbin, or they’ll put something else in Beijing. Sadly, we’ve got to go to the back of the line now.
And we keep on rolling. 4 for 4. Can this be the first ever perfect score?
5. The Asian Games will have the same impact on Guangzhou that the Olympics had on Beijing or the Expo had on Shanghai.
Even with the concerns and negative issues, the Beijing Olumpics gave a lot of face to China and I am sure the Asian Games will do the same to Guangzhou. The city is doing it’s best and through volunteers a leafleft was delivered to every household in order to instruct people on how to behave during the games. I think the biggest impact will be to make Guangzhou more known abroad and gain national pride.
I think that the two aformentioned events did a great job of opening up China to the rest of the world, and showing the nation as a new, modern place. I think that the Asian Games will get some of the sports media around, but it won’t get the kind of big name celebrities and politicians showing up like the Olympics or Expo did. I think that these games will be largely ignored by the Western media, since no European or North American countries will be present. Unless something goes wrong of course…
I totally jinxed it! 4 for 5.
6. You will attend some of the games.
I am not into sports but it would also feel little bit strange to attend an event that is making Guangzhou go crazy in many ways. Asian Games makes the life here little bit more strict and more complicated. Also Chinese students are forced to attend the games and wave flags. I will be only observing the closest stadium across the road.
That is assuming that I can navigate the online ticketing system, which has not been easy so far. Living two hours away from Shanghai during the Expo was the closest I’ve been to any sort of international event, and I think it would be a bit of a waste to not take in the opportunity. Sure, I’m not excatly the biggest fan of synchronized diving or archery, but it is always fun to get in on the collective experience.
And so it ends, not with a bang but with a wimper. 4 for 6.
For Sara, I’m Glen, thanks for reading! We hope that you enjoy the Games. As always, we welcome comments/concerns/criticisms. Let us have it