With less than 200 days to go before the Summer Olympics, Der Spiegel takes an in-depth look at China’s feverish preparations and finds a sprawling bureaucracy working overtime to project the perfect image to the world. But while Beijing might clean the smog, and even prevent rain, making communist China look like an open and free society won’t be easy.
Beijing got the Games, in part, by promising to promote human rights, but 42 activists are still in prison, some for criticizing the Games themselves. China’s athletes are tightly controlled state employees, forbidden from seeking personal glory. The public-relations machine is promising an open hand for journalists, denying reports that the 20,000 expected to attend will be monitored in a government database.