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Denver looming

By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor

It's a little tough to concentrate on our immediate environment here in Beijing, when our attention has been shifted ahead to Denver, and the Democratic National Convention -- which is right before the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

Years like this come along every so often, and at this network, the imperfect storm of the Olympic Games and the political calendar conspire to keep us on the road almost constantly during the month of August. It just might have been the subject of an email to my wife last night.

As our trip here winds down, we have what I hope will be an interesting segment tonight: a trip down one of the thousands of Hutongs here in Beijing: the narrow, tiny alleys that are like veins of commerce and life, just off the major arteries of this fascinating City. It comes about three-quarters of the way through our broadcast and it's something to look for.

And before any more time passes (since I gave a shout out to our Neighbors To The North in this space yesterday), allow me to say that we have not had one negative encounter with a single individual here in China.

Walking through a Beijing neighborhood yesterday, stopping on a sidewalk to watch a group of men crouched down playing majong, stopping in a convenience store to buy my Executive Producer a vacuum-packed pickled chicken foot (she'll love displaying it on her desk!), helping a family visiting the Olympics from Xian take a group picture in front of the bird's nest stadium two days ago: all of our interactions have been pleasant, and we've found the Chinese to be so warm and welcoming on a one-to-one basis. It needs to be said.

Richard Engel's reporting on our broadcast last night (what a solid piece of work, undertaken at some risk to Richard, his producer and crew who don't scare easily) showed just some of the outstanding issues here, in this society that is a strange mix of authoritarian rule with a generous dollop of capitalism, and features highrise buildings that are shaped like dragons and trousers alongside grinding poverty.

The challenge to our news organization and others is to not let this story fade after the Olympic banners have been taken down. We must continue to cover China and cover it aggressively...beginning on the Monday after the Games...when the traffic will once again fill the streets, and the factories come back on line...and this nation goes back to being what it was...before it welcomed the outside world.