Involvement of foreign companies in projects related to the Olympics in 2008 in Beijing
Regarding the economy western companies have great hopes for the Olympics in Beijing. The Australian Sun Herald compared the run of western companies on orders in Beijing with a gold rush. The city has to improve its infrastructure, build modern communication facilities and modern sporting venues, modernize its tourist accommodation and invest money in alternative energy.
Three phases of projects
The application form of Beijing included detailed descriptions of the investment program of the following years. Beijing had conceptualized an "Olympic Activity Plan" in June 2003 which included the construction of infrastructure projects in three phases: the first phase from December 2001 until June 2003 included preparations and the organisation of the management and during the second phase from July 2003 until June 2006 the infrastructure is being built and in the third phase until summer 2008 these measurements will be tested. An invitation to bid took place for the Olympic building projects which was also responded to by western companies.
Especially for environmental projects Beijing has to rely on foreign knowledge. Some technologies, e.g. use of geothermal heat, were prestigiously announced in the application forms and are meant to be realized. The western economic expectations are great and western economists assume that the Olympic Games speed up the development of a city and therefore saves as much as ten years. In addition to that it creates an extra growth of GDP of 0.3-0.4 % per year. Further concrete construction projects, pursued by western enterprises, are the extension of the underground, the building of a new airport and a telecommunications network.
Construction boom- the cityscape changes
But there are also critical voices viewing the expected construction boom with mixed feelings, because the cityscape will change considerably in the following years. Especially the Hutongs of Beijing, narrow alleys around the Forbidden City and the Tian Tan Temple are threatened by the building craze.
Within the framework of the proposed Olympic- planning development 25 Hutongs were declared protected areas however within these areas bulldozers have been spotted tearing down houses. Another repeatedly reported problem in western media is the expropriation of flat-owners without or insufficient compensation.