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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

OCTOBER 8, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 40

Party Time - for Some
How Beijing spruced up for the 50th
By PAUL MOONEY Beijing

    ALSO IN ASIAWEEK
Indonesia: Walking on a Tightrope
Unrest against the military revives the debate over civil and military power in Indonesia. But a bigger question is: Will disillusionment and division jeopardize the presidential poll?
• When Enemies Become Allies
• A Battle Being Fought
• Back in the Thick of It

China: Right Down the Middle
On the economy, Jiang Zemin wants it fast and slow
• Party Time - for Some

Taiwan: Shocks and Aftershocks
The political effects of the eartquake will be more enduring

Malaysia's Electoral Pivot
Barisan and the opposition court the Chinese

Korea: A Borderline Decision
Behind North Korea's move to push its sea frontier south

Myanmar: In Exile and Powerless
Still, Myanmar's dissidents keep up the fight

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Daily Briefing: Tradeoff
America won't budge on Chinese trade concessions in return for supporting China's WTO bid (09/30/99)

The Asiaweek 1000: Rankings By Country: China

  VISIONS OF CHINA
China at 50: Quest for Dignity
The success of the Communist revolution climaxed a century-long drive by the Chinese to reclaim their historical greatness

CNN
50 years of the People's Republic presented by CNN, TIME, Asiaweek and Fortune

TIME
China's Amazing Half Century
Navigate through the People's Republic of China and discover the 50 places where history was made

Beijing has never looked so good. Garish neon lights and advertising billboards have been unceremoniously ripped down in the center of the city. Cypress trees have been planted along Changan Avenue, the capital's main drag. The metropolis boasts new bike trails and millions of freshly planted flower pots. Futuristic-looking buildings have sprung up, seemingly overnight, while temporary walls hide decaying courtyard houses that could not be pulled down in time.

The capital has gone all out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on Oct. 1. No less than $13 billion was spent on the clean-up and on some 67 major projects. They included a new control tower and terminal at the capital's airport, and a new subway line and ringroad widening.

Twenty-five of the city's heaviest polluting factories were told to reduce or even halt production altogether. Beijingers are staring up at clear blue skies in wonderment. The mayor recently started enforcing the city's ban on spitting. To ensure no one unsightly is on hand, thousands of prostitutes and gang members have been detained in a nationwide crackdown, and many saunas, massage parlors and "beauty salons" have been raided. Beggars have disappeared from the streets; the floating army of migrant workers was told to migrate somewhere else. Hundreds of criminals have been executed.

Families living near the parade route have been told not to allow any relatives from outside Beijing to stay with them during the festivities. To make sure that the ban is enforced, China's formidable spy network of neighborhood "grannies" has been put on the lookout for any strangers.

So that people are not tongue-tied - and to prevent any possibility of spontaneity - the government released a list of 50 (get it, for the 50th) approved official slogans for the National Day. The list includes rallying cries such as "Long Live the Great Chinese Communist Party!" and the more complicated "The Fundamental Task of the Socialist Society is the Development of Productive Forces."

Rooms in the Beijing Hotel and the Grand Hotel, the two closest to the parade, have been booked for months at rates of $300-$600, three to four times more than usual. But according to some reports, guests have been ordered to stay indoors the morning of Oct. 1 so as not to get in the way.

Some 84 million middle- and lower-income workers in China are receiving pay rises to mark the 50th. "Of course it is related to the anniversary," says vice finance minister Lou Jiwei. "This is a happy event." But one lonely Beijing wall poster criticized the extravagance in a country lacking human rights. Clearly, not everyone is in a mood to celebrate.

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