Beijing wants to give the impression of a “harmonious society”, yet the gap between rich and poor is growing
China has seen nothing like it since the Tang dynasty. That was the last time the country enjoyed rising prosperity, was courted by thousands of foreign envoys, and extended its global power. The 2008 Olympic Games are often described as China’s “coming-out party”, but to many it’s more of a comeback, albeit one that has taken nearly 1,300 years.
Tang poetry and painting are still admired and studied, but the emblems of China’s modern renaissance are architectural. The new Olympic Stadium is a “bird’s nest” of titanium and glass. The nearly finished China Central Television building comprises two towers leaning into each other and joined near the top like a huge Aids ribbon, while the National Theatre – which opened in September – is a giant, golden egg laid next to Tiananmen Square. Only modern China would allow such a proliferation of experimental styles. [continues…]