Beijing In 2008?

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With glitz and a slick music video, Beijing is showing off new highways and plans for fancy facilities, radiating optimism about winning the games, reports CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen.

The hopefulness is apparent in everyone from the top man handling the bid, Wei Wong, who says he is confident, down to future Olympians, who are dreaming of gold won before a hometown crowd. Nine-year-old Zhao Meng Mao said, "I hope I can compete in Beijing." And six-year-old Wu Di added, "It means we would be seen by the whole world."

Beijing is dressing up for the part. Communist gray buildings are getting a pastel facelift and residents are learning to be good hosts.

But human rights activists say the Olympics could lead to widespread sweeps — sending the poor back to the countryside and sending troublesome dissidents to prison to get them out of sight.

"In that case we are legitimizing Chinese government's human rights violations and that will be the disgrace for the Olympics," explained human rights activist Xiao Qiang.

When China bid for the 2000 games, it mistakenly thought it had won. Human rights concerns may have hurt that bid, but this time could be different.

The International Olympic Committee is saying, publicly, that human rights is not going to be a part of the yardstick used to assess the various cities. That means Beijing's touchy-feely Olympics bid is a virtual slam-dunk to win.

And if human rights become an issue, China is ready with a unique argument.

When asked if the openness might improve human rights, Wei Wong said, "I think that's absolutely right because with the whole world focusing on China. The opening of the country and the city is almost inevitable.

China once built a Great Wall to keep the world out. Getting the Olympics, they now insist, could change China for the better — by letting the world in.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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