Gallery: BEIJING OLYMPIC GREENS: China’s Green Facade of Shrubbery


In preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics Beijing has festooned the Olympic grounds with lush sculptures portraying a greener version of China than we’re used to seeing. Over the last few decades China has become a country of rampant unbridled consumption (not unlike the U.S.), leading to devastating environmental consequences with little to no government regulations. Pollution is at its acme in Beijing and the wider world is pretty well aware of this problem. So what is China doing about these serious environment issues? From these eyecatching photos it appears Beijing is trying to attack (or obfuscate?) the problem with a little bit of shrubbery!

Since their nomination as the 2008 Olympic host city this issue, along with humanitarian concerns, has been thrust into the limelight. Many nations have expressed concerns for the health of their participating athletes and protests have run rampant worldwide. China’s main response has been pettifogging (in addition to some last-minute, half-hearted attempts to quickly clean the air).

The Chinese government has, for the most part, neglected this and other issues, by cloaking them in facades of reform and distraction. Case in point, the Beijing Olympic Gardens exhibit masterful design and scrupulous landscaping, obfuscating the issue of pollution altogether. While we can appreciate the artistry and care involved in creating the garden, we were hoping for a more proactive approach to cleaning up the city as it sets the stage for our world’s greatest athletes. In the end, Beijing’s attempt at greening has only left us jaded…. and perhaps mildly impressed with their shrubbery skills. Next time we need a topiary designer, we know who to call. Sadly, the 2008 Beijing Olympics could have been such a big opportunity for reform that this superficial gesture just seems a bit silly.

+ Beijing Olympic Garden

Tip via Richard Seereni and photos (sent by Richard) Secret Garden? We’re not 100% sure, but if you are let us know!


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  1. Fred August 1, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Sorry, it seems silly to looking at the air pollution problem like that. How could you link the beautiful green garden with the resposiblity for enviroment improvement. It’s a kind of artwork. How much endeavor China have been doing for improving the pollution? do you know that, buddy.

    But it’s nice to see many people here are conscious that the everybody should be responsilbe for the global warmming problem, not criticising blindly.

  2. Fred August 1, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Alexandra Kain , thanks for looking at the pollution problem in China.
    Definitely, they are continuously doing a lot improvement. But it\’s more important and must be clear, that all the people are responsible for the enviroment of the earth where everybody is living now,

    20 year\’s ago, nobody criticised that when developed country were crazily generating CO2.
    10 year\’s ago, when developed county started moving lots of industry to the developing conuntries like China, India, they wanted labours there and clean their own countries.

    Don\’t you think it\’s ridiculous, they were just shift CO2 generation to Asia, not out of the earth. Since the problems are there, we should look at it with active attitude and do more for the future.

  3. Toanto July 31, 2008 at 7:44 am

    I totally agree with you “tendiasia’ & ‘inthebeast’.

  4. inthebeast July 30, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Folks, open your eyes, please. Maybe China by virtue of their population and changes in lifestyle has become a source of pollution. A source. Are we not just doing what we\’re accusing them of right here? That is, using the Olympics as a convenient vehicle to address something we already know is happening, have been ignoring, and are (per capita) far more guilty of ourselves then they will be for fifty more years? The thing about pollution is this, folks, there\’s only one thing to be done about it: stop. I don\’t know what the air you are breathing is like, but here in Oakland it\’s grayish and a little brownish and we have some of the strictest air quality rules in the US. There are too damn many of us and we burn too much coal and oil to have clean air to breathe. How do we have any buisiness telling China off? Do you drive? Does any of the electricity running your computer come from the burning of coal? Why? How are you any better than those you are condemning?

  5. tedinasia July 30, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I tend to expect better from inhabitat, as others have stated, we all are concerned about increasing environmental awareness on a global scale. China is making a first effort here and there are economic, cultural and political challenges that are unique to China, to simply offer up a story like this with your “clever” / derogatory wording is juvenile at best.

    China as a growing industrial power is where the USA was in perhaps the late 50’s and thus not as “enlightened” as you might like. The reality is that regardless of what the west thinks, until China reaches a similar living standard of modern nations, environmental issues will not be a priority… Secure income, Putting food on the table, building a home, purchasing your first car, offering your children an education, these issues dominate the everyday thoughts of over 1.4 billion Chinese.

  6. ac1dfl3sh July 30, 2008 at 10:02 am

    I have to agree with earthsmile on this one. We should ALL be doing more… I’m personally from Canada and the level of ignorance here is appalling. Most people you talk to have a “there’s nothing we can do” attitude and it’s quite disheartening.

    Although I do agree that China doesn’t do enough- especially since they are such a huge polluter; we can’t simply shift the blame. It’s time to man up and accept responsibility not only for our individual actions but the actions of our government and citizens as well.

  7. Toanto July 29, 2008 at 10:10 am


    These Olympics Gardens are just one of million things that China had done to clean up the environment. I think you should applaud their efforts and not be blinded with a smaller picture.


  8. earthsmile July 29, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Hi.. I’m puzzled. Why would we find it okay to hold China to a higher environmental standard than we ourselves adhere to ? The USA has to LEAD… not complain. And since our government is too bought and paid for, for them to effectively address the pollution issue… citizens like you and I must lead the way. Period. So… lets do it !

    When our EXAMPLE ‘shames’ China. They will save face by attempting to go us one better on the ‘green’ front ! So it’s really up to US… as in the US – A.

  9. Alexandra Kain July 28, 2008 at 7:18 pm


    You may be right about these pictures being from Shanghai. As mentioned above, we had some difficulties sourcing the photos but after some digging we found this article:

    Apparently, there are over 50 Olympic Gardens throughout China, so while this may not be the actual garden in Beijing, it is a part of the Olympic Gardens. I think no matter where the garden is, the objective of creating a ‘green’ facade still remains the same.

    More information on China’s pre-Olympics greenwashing can be found at these links:


  10. Alexandra Kain July 28, 2008 at 4:49 pm


    You may be right, we had a hard time sourcing the pictures as mentioned above but I think the overall idea still stands. Whether in Beijing or Shanghai, there seems to be a veil of greenwashing throughout China for the upcoming Olympics in a time when environmental issues are prominent and pressing. As one of the world’s greatest polluters and host to the world’s greatest athletic event, China should be doing everything within its means to clear the air for the athletes and the thousands (millions?) of visitors in the country to see them, if not for their own people.


  11. seireeni July 28, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Actually, the exhibit was for a pre-Olympics themed event in Shanghai. The post in Secret Garden seems to be inaccurate.

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