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A nation must think before it acts.
Four months after the Beijing Olympics, on the vast plaza beside the Games’ main venues, workers fought gusty winds and freezing temperatures to erect, incongruously, scores of artificial Christmas trees while a handful of hawkers futilely pushed discounted memorabilia. The national stadium—known as the bird’s nest—had grown dingy with the gray dust that settles onto everything in the Chinese capital. Still, hundreds of tourists from China’s countryside and less cosmopolitan cities trekked to this rather bleak spot to snap photos of one another in front of the world-famous arena and symbol of national pride and recent glory.