Well, of course hosting the Olympic Games helped open up China's Communist government, and left a "unique legacy" in Olympic history.
After all, brutal and repressive regimes always respond to the international spotlight by letting themselves be seen, warts and all, and allowing every flaw to be analyzed and examined on the world stage. That's why, even though the first health problems connected to melamine in milk products in China started showing up in December 2007 and the first infant death directly linked to the chemical happened in May 2008, the world learns of the problem well after the Olympic Games are over.
Melamine is a chemical used in flame retardants, cleaners like Mr. Clean's "Magic Eraser," plastics and countertops. Because of its high nitrogen content, it can boost the apparent protein levels in food, even though it's no protein itself. It's what caused pet food recalls last year when it was found in wheat gluten Chinese companies used in preparing the food. Melamine by itself is somewhat dangerous, but when combined with another chemical called cyanuric acid, it can form poisonous kidney stones and cause kidney failure. And oh, guess what, the same companies that added melamine to pet food in order to make low-protein stuff look like high-protein stuff also added cyanuric acid. And oh, double guess what, that's the same tasty combo found in the powdered milk.
Apparently Chinese officials figured that the civilized world would be at least as touchy about poisoned children as they were about poisoned pets, so, according to the AFP story, they kept their investigation of the guilty companies on the QT until after everyone was done ooh-ing and ahh-ing over all the dancers, fireworks and big gold medal haul.
Guess they were worried an investigation might wake the baby.