Beijing becoming the first city to hold both the Winter and Summer Olympics may not be a feature on the actual landscape. But it’s in the same realm for the world’s most populous country, which has long framed itself at the center of the world, evident in its name in Chinese, “Zhongguo,” or “middle country.”
This affinity for bigness isn’t new. It goes back to a dozen dynasties that ruled China for thousands of years — one of which re-created an entire army of terra cotta warriors to be buried with an emperor. It’s a tradition of projecting large-scale power that was adopted by the Chinese Communist Party when it took over in 1949.