ad info

TIME Asia Home
Current Issue
Magazine Archive
Asia Buzz
Travel Watch
Web Features
  Photo Essays

Subscribe to TIME
Customer Services
About Us
Write to TIME Asia
TIME Canada
TIME Europe
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Latest CNN News

Young China
Olympics 2000
On The Road

  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia

Other News
From TIME Asia

Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

TIME Digest

TIME Asia Services
Subscribe to TIME! Get up to 3 MONTHS FREE!

Bookmark TIME
TIME Media Kit
Recent awards

Visions of China CNN TIME Asiaweek Fortune

SEPTEMBER 27, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 12

To Our Readers
By ADI IGNATIUS Deputy Editor, TIME Asia

How does one portray the first half-century of the People's Republic of China, even in the broadest of brush strokes? Is it ultimately a tragedy or a comedy? Certainly modern China has produced its share of tragic leaders--none more so than Mao Zedong, who came to power with such promise, only to squander it in his later years as he turned bitter, distrustful and all-too-willing to allow a cult of personality to engulf him. His eventual successor, Deng Xiaoping, is similarly a double-edged icon. He is widely beloved for ridding China of Maoist mass movements and for introducing free-market reforms. Yet many will never forgive him for sending in tanks and troops to crush the student-led protests of 1989. In the final analysis, it was a half-century of great destruction and suffering, and yet China seems somehow to have emerged from it all with a sense of destiny and hope.

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

China's Wild Ride
The early years of Mao's new republic were exhilarating and disastrous. Deng Xiaoping brought the country back from the brink

Essay: Happy Birthday to Me!
A Beijing writer recalls what he was doing when the People's Republic celebrated some earlier birthdays

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

Quest for Dignity
The success of the Communist revolution climaxed a century-long drive by the Chinese to reclaim their historical greatness

For this issue commemorating the golden anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic, we're taking a novel approach. Rather than write again about China's most influential leaders and their uncertain legacies, we decided to focus instead on the half-century's 50 most significant places: the cities, villages, cultural palaces and other landmarks that have defined today's China and will shape its future. These are the places where history has been made. Some are obvious choices: the Gate of Heavenly Peace, where Mao proclaimed the founding of a nation; Lop Nor, where China detonated its first nuclear device; Democracy Wall, where criticism of the country's leaders suddenly burst into the open. Others are more subtle: Wuhan, where Mao emerged in 1966 to swim the Yangtze; Ruili, the town that epitomizes the spirit of new China's Wild West; Buyun, an impoverished township that was the site last year of the country's most ambitious experiment in democracy. It proved surprisingly easy to come up with a full list of 50 sites.

To help tell these stories, we mobilized an all-star list of writers from inside and outside the magazine. Many provide moving, first-hand accounts of the half-century's key events. Ma Feng, the celebrated short-story writer, recalls his thrill at being invited to attend the new nation's founding ceremonies on Oct. 1, 1949. Yu Shan, alias Jiang Fang, describes life in the prison camp in a northeastern wasteland where he labored for 18 years. The Dalai Lama writes of his painful decision to leave Lhasa in 1959 and the loneliness he has endured in exile. Fang Lizhi recalls his experiences helping to develop China's first atomic bomb and how the country's woeful equipment shortage forced the team of nuclear physicists to rely for computation on simple abacuses. Wei Jingsheng captures the electricity of the Democracy Wall movement that elevated him to star--and criminal--status. Chen Kaige, the world-famous director, writes of the passion that his generation of movie makers radiated at the Beijing Film Academy. Rock star Cui Jian recounts the birth of Chinese rock 'n' roll. Wang Dan replays his experience as a leader of the 1989 student movement at Tiananmen. And author Jan Morris sums up the ironic 156 years that Hong Kong enjoyed detached from the mainland.

We also offer remarkable essays from two of China's most unusual young writers. Mian Mian, better known to friends as Kika, provides a highly personal walk on the wild side of the Shanghai she and her cutting-edge friends inhabit. Wang Shuo, the renowned novelist and short-story writer, provides a wry account of what was happening in his own small life as the People's Republic celebrated some earlier birthdays. For example, the 30th anniversary, a celebration of Deng's reforms, inspired Wang to quit the navy--and go into business smuggling electronic goods.

Our lead essay is by Ying Ruocheng, the talented actor who starred in both Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor and Arthur Miller's Chinese-language production of Death of a Salesman. He provides a highly personal account of how the ups and downs of China's past 50 years have rocked the worlds of intellectuals like himself.

This issue is a labor of love, the product of many long hours put in by many talented people. Art director John White designed the package, with an elegant assist from deputy Cecelia Wong. Picture editor Lisa Botos and assistant Judy Tan tirelessly combed archives around the world to assemble some of the best photography to emerge from China in the past 50 years. Reporter Lori Reese contributed a bit of everything, from chasing down information to brow-beating tardy contributors to writing three stories herself. Chief reporter Hannah Beech coordinated all our efforts and wrote three of the articles. And our skilled production team--Karen Fu, Rita Choi, Ester Wensing, Dennis Wong Cheuk Fung and Queenie Cheung--somehow managed to make the whole package fit seamlessly and go to press on time.

In China, our star trio of Jimi FlorCruz, Terry McCarthy and Mia Turner tapped their unparalleled network of contacts to help enlist some of the country's best literary talent. They also found time to contribute first-class reporting and writing. And whenever anything threatened to fall between the cracks, Beijing staffers Guo Baoqi and Huang Yong saved the day.

We hope this package, the product of all that brainpower, adds up to an entertaining and informative read on Asia's biggest, most important nation--and the remarkable half-century it now celebrates.

This edition's table of contents
TIME Asia home

CNN's Visions of China home



Back to the top   © 1999 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.