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Beijing recessional.

The most Olympian feats of the Beijing Games weren't performed by the athletes but by the host country. After 16 days of shock and awe, the world gathered again in the Bird's Nest, ready to concede Chinese superiority--at least as measured by marshaling cloned drummers. If the opening ceremony boggled the global imagination, the closing was no less spectacular--or sinister, depending on your point of view. Even gravity gave up without a fight.

So it came as odd relief when London, in accepting the Olympic baton, declined the Chinese challenge. Give the PRC its sleek uniformity, its colors not found on the usual spectrum, its million double-jointed pixies. The British are coming--by bus. A curious assembly, apparently chosen for their ability to hold umbrellas and not look too Anglo, waited while the double-decker rolled up. It coughed out an unremarkable child, an aging rocker, and soccer stud David Beckham, who nearly created an international incident by drilling a ball into a crowd of Chinese dancers. The bus's sole concession to showmanship involved morphing into a thicket.

Those inclined to analogy might have seen a portrait of empires--one fading, the other ascendant. China had earned the right to be proud of its Olympic moment and of the rising power it announced. But that quaint bus offered a premonition. Realizing that Britain once mastered the globe should have sent a chill through China's grand scheme. No arsenal of special effects can keep the sun from setting.
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Title Annotation:WORLD
Publication:The American Conservative
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Sep 8, 2008
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