The nation: Excerpt - The Olympics always provide a unique platform for the world's finest athletes. The 2008 Games will also provide one for Hu Jintao and company in their ongoing quest to convince domestic audiences that they have made China great again; they seek to persuade international audiences that they are steering their country and its booming economy down the right path. But this platform can't be controlled--and China's leaders are shrewd enough to realize the risk of trying too hard to keep the unexpected from happening. Their hope of having the 2008 Games remembered as China's great global coming-out party could crumble, not just as a consequence of protests but of ham-handed security measures that end in making the 2008 Games memorable less for their grandeur than for the tightly monitored nature of the proceedings.
The most interesting Olympic event to watch could turn out to be one not recognized by the International Olympic Committee: The tightrope-walk China's leaders attempt when the global media are more focused on Beijing than they have been since 1989--a fateful year when, as we know and Hu Jintao knows too, international audiences were alternately inspired by images of youthful Chinese protesters and appalled those of menacing Chinese tanks. (more)