China is bubbling with activity with the kickoff of the 2008 Olympic Games on August 8. Beijing is doing all it takes to make sure the Games are a success. The shiny new Olympic sites are ready for use, several metro lines have been opened and food adapted to western tastes can now be found around the city, in case tourists are wary of sautéed grasshoppers.
For China, the world's third largest economy, the Olympic Games are a way to stand out on the international stage, both economically and athletically.
But the situation in the Chinese capital is far from rosy: high pollution levels and human rights violations have sparked concern and protests around the world and in the international media. Beijing defends itself on both issues.
WARNING, to follow the Olympic Games, you are invited to visit our special Observers website, as the present special report will no longer be updated.
To follow the progress of the Olympic torch as it makes it way toward Beijing, watch our weekly broadcast "On the Road to Beijing."