With the Beijing Paralympic Games in full swing, people in the Chinese capital are not only experiencing the same enthusiasm for sport in full-packed competition venues as during the Beijing Olympic Games, but also enjoying the same cheerful living environment, including blue skies, clean air and smooth city traffic.
This is because the city has continued to enforce a series of environment-friendly and traffic control measures, introduced in late July in the final run-up to the Olympics.
Statistics from the Beijing municipal environmental protection department showed that in August, the quality of air in as many as 30 days was rated "up to the standards," and in 14 days even reached "level one," or excellent, a record high in nearly 10 years.
Meanwhile, the city traffic administration announced that the average car speed on the city's main roads has risen by 9.9 percent, thanks to a scheme that allows cars with odd and even license plates to hit the road only on alternate days.
Undoubtedly, these restrictions have caused some inconveniences and even economic losses for some local people and businesses. For instance, car owners can no longer drive whenever they like or need to, and some polluting factories in and around Beijing had to cut or suspend production. But it has been proved by facts that such measures have brought more gains than costs.
As a matter of fact, a metropolis like Beijing simply cannot expect to improve its environment or traffic conditions without any cost or sacrifice.
For quite a long time, the local residents have been caught in a dilemma between a better environment and a fast economic growth, which often comes at the cost of environment and resources.
Through the hosting of the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, whose preparatory work lasted up to seven years, the Chinese people have come to realize that a city or a country at large shall never seek economic growth or a "modern lifestyle" through damaging the environment or harming social harmony. Man and nature, as well as people from different social strata, shall always develop in harmony, not in conflicts.
That explains why the country has readily endorsed a "scientific outlook on development" in recent years, and the general public accepted and welcomed a series of new changes, from closure of heavy-pollution industries, to fees on plastic shopping bags and extra taxes on high-emission luxury cars.
Media reports and online comments show that most residents in Beijing hope to see the positive changes brought by the Olympics and Paralympics could last beyond the Games, and become part of their everyday life.
It doesn't necessarily mean that the temporary restrictive measures shall be made permanent. What's really important is to firmly bear the new development concept in mind, draw constantly from the Games legacy in a creative way, and take into full account the capacity of environment and resources, as well as the benefits and wishes of the majority of the people, while planning the city's future development.
(Xinhua News Agency September 8, 2008)