Jing Zhang is a 28-year-old researcher working in the Beijing bureau of The New York Times. She watched the opening ceremony and shared her thoughts.

REUTERS/Xinhua/Yang Lei(Reuters/Xinhua/Yang Lei)

I didn’t have a very high expectation for the opening ceremony. For the residents of Beijing, including me, it has been a seven-year journey with everyone fighting very hard to be a good host, building venues, cleaning up the cities. The government has issued a lot of new regulations on regular people, which makes ordinary life a little more inconvenient. For example, the traffic control rules, rising rents because of landlords’ desire to make more money after the Olympics, and the close scrutiny of the Chinese by the world media. All of this made me a little sick of the Olympics. It became less a celebration and more of a test of my country and its people.

But all of a sudden, while watching the opening ceremony with the sports staff from New York at the Main Press Center, when the song “Sing for My Country” played, and seeing the huge number of Chinese drummers, I felt this is the moment I’m proud to be Chinese.

The splendor of the show presented to the world the rich and beautiful history of our culture. If asked to name only one thing to be proud of, many Chinese would say it is the long history of our nation. But we’re so used to living in this rich culture that sometimes we forget how powerful it is. I was reminded of that tonight. Talented artists put this performance together in such a sophisticated way that it embodied the past in a modern, futuristic way. It brought out the deep-rooted love I feel for my country.

The most impressive part of the performance was the way director Zhang Yimou used the Chinese painting scroll as a platform and screening for recapping history.

This performance is great within China and perfect to share our traditions, but I feel it wasn’t international or inclusive enough to show the Olympic spirit of a peaceful, universal gathering.
Athletics also weren’t represented enough.

But I was delighted to see that former Chinese gymnastic legend Li Ning was selected to light the cauldron in such a cool way.