A dream being realized
Seventy years ago, my mother had a dream -- to represent China in the Olympics. She was one of the fastest women in China, and she awaited the 1940 Olympics in Tokyo with pride and anticipation.
But her dream was shattered when Japan invaded China, resulting eventually in the cancellation of the 1940 Olympics. My mother's misfortune was emblematic of China's humiliating recent history, for about 140 years dating from the Opium War in 1839. This period was filled with foreign invasions and can be characterized by China's insolvency, instability, and poverty.
Starting in 1978, and for the past 30 years, China has focused itself on purging these three problems, and on bringing about sovereignty, stability and prosperity. Its economic accomplishments have been unmatched in the history of mankind — in the past 30 years, more than 600 million people have been lifted above the poverty line, and China is on its way to becoming the world's largest economy.
The Olympics this summer in Beijing marks the next phase in China's development beyond these three problems. On Friday Aug. 8, China is not just opening its doors for Olympic spectators, but also welcoming tens of thousands of journalists. This, along with President Hu Jintao's speech about moving toward democracy, signifies a clear intention to make more progressive changes. Like my mother's Olympic dream, I await these changes with pride and anticipation. But knowing that reforms take time, I shall also await future changes with patience and optimism.
Kai-Fu Lee is the head of Google China.