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On the evening that Beijing earned the right to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, the city celebrated into the night. It was July 2001, and China was beginning an extraordinary decade of economic growth that would transform the capital into something that China’s leaders — and its people — wanted to show off.

The Olympics are an opportunity to signal to the world that a country has been transformed, both in how it views itself and how it wants the world to view it. China wanted to show that it was no longer emerging — and deserved respect.

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