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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 19:20 GMT 20:20 UK
China proud of its showcase city
The sun glinting on Shanghai's Jinmao Tower
Shanghai is China's futuristic financial capital
Jon Leyne

They put up the welcome signs so early, some people thought they had mistaken the date. But there is no mistaking the fact that the Chinese are glowing with pride at hosting this summit meeting of 21 leaders from the Asia-Pacific region.

For more than a year the Chinese authorities have been arranging special English lessons, and teaching good manners, or "raising the level of our citizens" as they put it.

The battle against terrorism may have taken over the agenda, but China is determined not to miss the opportunity to showcase their city.

As President Bush swept into the city in his motorcade, he is unlikely to have seen many of these newly trained citizens.

Thousands of extra police have been drafted in
I travelled in a day earlier with Colin Powell's motorcade. On the long ride from the airport every road was closed off. Not just every road that we drove on, but every road connecting into it as well.

There are a few tourists peering through the fence of the convention centre, the suspicion is that many of them are really plain clothes security agents.

Ten thousand extra police are said to have been drafted in for the event. It seems an under-estimate. Several thousand appear to be stationed in the main conference hotel alone.

City of the future

Even without the people, Mr Bush's view will have been remarkable. This is the city of the future. Fritz Lang's Metropolis made real.

Science fiction skyscrapers peer over an elevated urban motorway. Some summit meetings are being held in the world's third highest building. The international media centre is under the shadow of a communications tower modelled on a Dan Dare spaceship.

All of this has been built in barely a decade. The area China hopes to become its new financial capital, Pudong, perhaps the financial capital of Asia, was mostly green fields when President Bush's father took office in 1988.

US secretary of state Colin Powell
Colin Powell arrives after whirlwind diplomatic trip to India and Pakistan
The old anecdote about half the world's construction cranes being here is no longer true, if it ever was. The work is mostly finished.

Mr Bush, of course, will not have much chance to sightsee. For once his usual leisurely schedule has been scrapped.

In its place, Mr Bush is busily meeting every leader he can find, in order to reinforce his grand coalition against terrorism. Twenty five minutes for the Sultan of Brunei, half an hour with the President of Peru. Meetings with the Malaysians, the Japanese, the prime minister of Singapore. The list goes on.

New found friendship

Central to the summit will be Mr Bush's first meeting with the Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. An already warming relationship has received a further boost by the co-operation the two countries have established since September the eleventh.

The Secretary of State even spoke of the "enlightened political leadership" of the Chinese at a meeting of businessmen. How long ago was it that the two nations were at loggerheads over the fate of a spy plane?

The fact is that China and the United States share a common interest in the elimination of terrorism - even if they may disagree over exactly who they define as terrorists.

President Putin
Putin due to meet Bush on Sunday
China has long been battling Uighur separatists in the North West of the country. The Chinese government has a historical fear of disorder. they would certainly not like to import it from their Afghan border.

The same logic applies to the Russian President, Mr Putin, with whom George Bush will meet on Sunday.

Not only are Russia and the United States likely to reach a substantial degree of agreement on terrorism, they are also making progress towards a deal to revise the anti-ballistic missile treaty, enabling the Americans to push ahead with a system of missile defence.

So amongst the futuristic skyscrapers, the world order is being rapidly re-written. As Colin Powell succinctly put it. Not only is the Cold War over, now the post Cold War is over too.

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