In 2008, when China hosted Olympic Games in the capital Beijing, there was optimism that the international competition would be the first step toward the country's liberalization and democratization.
There was a precedent for this hopefulness; the 1964 and 1988 Olympics had brought about a number of political and social changes in Japan and South Korea, respectively.
Ahead of the 2008 games, the Chinese government had lifted some internet restrictions and announced that it would allow demonstrations in official "protest zones." Chinese authorities also pledged that political and economic reforms would be introduced after the games.
"We thought this would be the beginning of a new journey. We had many expectations (from the 2008 Olympics)," Johnny Erling, a China correspondent for Die Welt German newspaper, told DW.