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Steven W. Lewis, Baker Institute fellow in Asian studies, compares the 2008 Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing to the 1904 Games of the III Olympiad in St. Louis, Mo. Opponents of China"s domestic and foreign policies argue its government will use the Summer Olympics to score a public relations coup, a grand spectacle to fool the Chinese people and the world into believing that China is a modern, prosperous and free society. The Chinese government, as seen in President Hu Jintao"s recent statement calling on all Chinese to make the successful hosting of the games the nation"s top priority, is also betting a lot on the Olympic Games. Chinese leaders seem to believe it will be a historic coming-of-age ceremony, a showcase for China"s rapid development in recent years and a display of its legitimacy as the government of more than one-fifth of the world"s population. But history tells us the games will likely have little lasting effect on the lives of ordinary Chinese.

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