Your Editorial 'China's challenges' (Nature 454, 367–368; 2008) and News Feature 'Visions of China' (Nature 454, 384–387; 2008) proclaim China's increasing strength in science and technology. But this summer's Olympics Games in Beijing may cast a shadow over that landscape.

The Chinese government's investment in the 2008 Beijing Olympics is reflected in a wide range of technical accomplishments. These include the design and construction of the venues, development of energy-saving technology, communication support, comprehensive services for the media, public information and weather forecasting, advanced safety and security, and rigorous drug testing.

But away from the extravagant displays of the opening ceremony, scientists in China are experiencing some negative effects that could take hold in the wake of the Olympics. Nationwide security restrictions on the transport of liquids, for example, have delayed the delivery of chemical and biological reagents to laboratories, especially those coming from abroad. The resources of the entire country have been tapped, draining funds from fields outside Olympic interests. Add to this the cost of the recent earthquakes in Sichuan, and it will become even harder to meet the Chinese state's optimistic goals for research and development.

The post-Olympic era is likely to see more emphasis on disciplines such as Earth science and environmental protection, but considerably less on other areas of science and technology.