Blue eyes, dark eyes, all eyes were on the splendid opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games Friday.
In Brussels, heart of the European Union (EU), overseas Chinese, along with dozens of Belgians, gathered before a big flat screen in a Chinese restaurant, waiting for the start-up of the Games, which was for the first time hosted by the world's most populous country.
At 2:00 p.m. local time when Beijing entered 8:00 p.m., the games kicked off under worldwide attention and also with applause from Brussels.
As one of the nearly four billion viewers across the world, David Fouquet, director of the Brussels-based Asia Europe Project Information Service, said, "It is quite impressive. It would even be more impressive if I could be there rather than watching it on the screen."
"The opening ceremony is not a copy of the western world. It is Chinese," said managing director of a Belgian business consultancy Andre Puttemans,who has been dealing with China in the last twenty-two years.
Waves of applause proved their excitement was shared by everyone in the audience. The applause was not reserved for the Belgian team, who are eyeing several medals in the games, but also went to the magnificent performance.
"I think Chinese people have the right to be very proud of what they have achieved," said Puttemans.
When the national flag of China, the host country, was raised at the beginning of the ceremony, everybody in the audience, no matter whether they are yellow-haired and white-skinned or dark-haired and yellow-skinned, stood up to show their respect and admiration.
For Chinese people, they have been waiting for this moment for a century and in preparation for the games for seven years.
"The Olympic Games promotes China," Puttemans said, "In dealing with China over the last twenty-two years, I have seen changes there. I think in spite of all the difficulties before the games, my personal feeling is China has been evolving so nicely in the last twenty-two years."
Bernard Dewit, chairman of the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said the opening ceremony presented a modern and changing China.
"It is beautiful. Such a big ceremony was also modern art, a show that China is a modern country. There is creativity. That is an interesting part," he said, "That is also a show that China is changing."
The professional lawyer, who published a book on Chinese business law in 1980s, said China's hosting of the Olympic Games marked a step forward for the emerging economy to be more open to the outside world.
"It can convince people that China is continuing with its opening," he said, adding it was a good coincidence that this year China is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its opening up policy, which was introduced by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978.
Dewit said the Games would definitely help promote China, which is already one of the world's most vibrant economies and promising markets.
"The fact you have the games can be opportunities because people speak more about China. Some business people can say I have to go to China to develop something, so it can give ideas to people," he said.
Echoing Dewit, Puttemans said the Olympic Games highlighted an increasing role of China on the global stage.
"By now, the whole world would understand that China is a very big and important player in the world in every aspect, not only commercial but also cultural," he said.
As least for Belgium, China is becoming more important.
"In the last three years, the trade volume between China and Belgium jumped one hundred percent, which means a doubling in three years," said Zhang Yuanyuan, the new Chinese ambassador to Belgium who just arrived Thursday.
(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2008)