Utah Family in China Seeing Big Changes

Utah Family in China Seeing Big Changes

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Sammy Linebaugh ReportingUtah's trade mission to China continues this week. One thing Salt Lake City officials share with their Beijing counterparts is the Olympic experience. As China prepares to welcome the world for the 2008 summer Olympic Games, one Utah family, living in Beijing, just welcomed their newest addition.

Tonight, in part two of our story on a changing China, freelance reporter Sammy Linebaugh introduces us to the Flemings.

Utah Family in China Seeing Big Changes

Little Ben Fleming already has something his two older siblings don't have, a Chinese birth certificate. Ben was born in August and his parents say family outings are more interesting.

Sarah Fleming, Mom: "Whenever we go anywhere with three kids they're like, 'Whoa, three is so many, why do you have so many kids?'"

Utah Family in China Seeing Big Changes

But it's what the Flemings see, living in a rapidly changing city, they find fascinating.

"Physically, Beijing is a different place than when we moved here."

The 2008 Summer Olympic Games are less than two years away. The main stadium is taking shape, as a bird's nest, and cranes are everywhere.

Dave Fleming, Working in China: "You can tell every single day the emphasis being placed on the Olympics in Beijing that it's a big deal. They want to prove to the world that China is not only open enough to handle the Olympics but also open enough to compete on a global level."

Utah Family in China Seeing Big Changes

Tianamen Square is a reminder there are limits to openness in a communist society, but crowded shopping districts are one of many signs, says Fleming, China's future will be far different from its past.

Dave Fleming: "People are developing. The upcoming generation of the young professionals in China are going to be very interesting to watch. This is the generation of the one child law and they're just now hitting the professional ranks, so that has a very big impact on their thinking toward society, the different jobs they want to do, and how they think China should be in general."

Utah Family in China Seeing Big Changes

For this Utah family, China's past has been a big part of the adventure.

Sarah Fleming: "It's not what I expected at all. We've loved the Great Wall and we've been able to see all the sights in Beijing like the Forbidden City. It's been really fun learning all the history."

There's a long held myth in China that you can actually see the Great Wall with the naked eye from the moon. In 2003, China's first astronaut actually flew to space and confirmed he couldn't see it. What the world sees of China, likewise, depends on perspective. Up close, the Flemings say, they've found goodness and greatness in the Chinese people and the place they call home.

Sarah Fleming: "The people here have been so friendly and all the people we meet are so interested in us, even just strangers on the street and taxi drivers, and just the Beijing people have been really nice."

Ben may be too young to remember much, but someday, when he returns to Utah, he'll hear stories.

Sarah Fleming: "One woman at the market the other day asked us, she said, 'Isn't it so loud all the time?' And it is."

In that, maybe the two worlds aren't so far apart afterall. The Flemings are disappointed they won't be living in Beijing during the Olympics, another job has called them back home.

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