According to the Deseret (Utah) Morning News, GE, Siemens and United Technologies are among the large companies hoping to use the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing as a gateway to China’s booming economic and market potential.

In 2003, GE paid $200 million to become an Olympic sponsor with an eye toward the estimated $1 billion in Olympic-related contracts that will be up for bidding to provide services ranging from lighting and security at new stadiums to electrical equipment at subway stations to treatment at wastewater plants. The company has already won more than $150 million in contracts, including a project to install a new baggage-scanning system at Beijing Capital Airport.

“The Olympics effort is an opportunity for all of our businesses to create new relationships, expand on the ones we had and take our effort in China to the next level,” said GE vice chairman John Rice.

Siemens, which like GE has established a group to focus on Beijing, has already won a $200 million contract to supply a baggage-handling system to a new Beijing airport terminal and has purchased a 70 percent stake in a Chinese water-treatment facility.

United Technologies, meanwhile, has won a contract to install 136 escalators and 41 elevators for a new Beijing subway line and will provide air-conditioning systems for two athletic facilities.            EC