BEIJING, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- The gathering of foreign heads of state and elites for the Beijing Olympics could be taken as a sign of positive world attitudes toward China's development, said Tsinghua University professor Hu Angang on Thursday.
When Beijing was chosen to host the Olympics seven years ago, "the world trusted China for its reform and opening-up policy," said Hu. "The Beijing Olympics opening ceremony will have a huge presence of foreign leaders and elites, which again shows that the international society has voted in favor of the direction of the country's development."
State leaders, top government officials and royal family members from more than 50 countries, including U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, are to arrive in Beijing on Thursday.
The opening ceremony will see more than 80 such leaders, far more than the 2004 Athens Olympic Games or the Olympics in any other year.
In addition, athletes from 205 countries and regions and more than 20,000 Chinese and foreign journalists will be here for the Games.
The Chinese are well-prepared for these guests. Colorful flags fly on flower-decorated streets and more than one million volunteers greet visitors with smiles.
"Chinese people have become conscious of their behavior in front of billions who will be watching TV," said Hu. "They are trying to improve themselves and the environment to show that China welcomes foreigners and Chinese are good-mannered and trustworthy."
The Olympic slogan "One World, One Dream" could be seen all over the city.
When addressing media from 25 countries last week, President Hu Jintao said the slogan expressed our sincere wish, which was that Chinese people would like to join hands with people across the globe to create a better future under the influence of the Olympic spirit.
"After 30 years of reform and opening-up, China, with a population of 1.3 billion, has really become a part of the world and the biggest stakeholder," said Hu Angang.
He said if entering the World Trade Organization meant China had been fully connected to the world, hosting the Olympics would allow China to learn about "international practice" to a deeper and wider extent.
Overseas journalists were guaranteed access to anyone they would like to interview, as long as they got the interviewees' consent. Foreign TV journalists could do their broadcasts live from Tian'anmen Square, the heart of Beijing.
China has promised to the world that China would remain open to foreign media even after the Olympics.
The Honorary Chairman of the China Olympic Committee, He Zhenliang, recalled the "Table Tennis Diplomacy" between China and the United States in 1971, which provided a good example of how sports could promote the diplomatic relationship.
He said the Beijing Olympics would again show sports' amazing strength in promoting the relationship between China and the world.
"Sports was one of the earliest globalized areas. Through globalization, we shall be more tightly connected to the world," he said.
He told Xinhua reporters that without reform and opening-up, China would never be able to hold the Olympic Games. He said China even had to give up hosting the Asian Games in 1978, because the country could not offer enough facilities for the games after the Cultural Revolution.
Today, the global audience will be able to see the "Bird's Nest", or the National Stadium and the "Water Cube", or the National Aquatics Center on TV. People who came to Beijing for the Olympics could also experience its modernity at the new Terminal-3 of the Beijing Capital International Airport, new subway lines and the new China Central Television Station building.
However, the country still faces serious challenges. The three most pressing are the shortage of resources, especially energy; the deteriorating environment, and the need to achieve a balanced development between the economy and the society of such a big country, said Li Junru, a renowned scholar at the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China.
China took the Olympics as an opportunity to tackle those problems head on, Li said.
As an example, to reduce pollution, Beijing decided to move the Capital Steel and Iron Company out of the city and build a new facility by the eastern Bohai Sea with 220 advanced technologies to reduce pollution.
"It is not just a temporary plan for China to promote sustainable development. The country has enough political will and determination to carry it on," Hu added.