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Last Updated: Monday, 5 December 2005, 10:37 GMT
Building Beijing
First broadcast December 2005

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Beijing
No city on earth is changing at a faster pace than Beijing.

By the time of the Olympic Games in 2008, the city aims to emerge as a super-modern capital that speaks eloquently of China's important place in the world.

In a series of four programmes, BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes looks at the image the city is making for itself in the 21st century. Is there tension between the desire to modernise culture and commerce on the one hand, and the limitations imposed by a single party state on the other?

Part One: Building an Infrastructure

Beijing, buoyed up by becoming the next Olympic city, is booming.

Called 'The City that Ate the World', more construction work is going on in Beijing than anywhere else on the planet, with half the world's production of steel and a third of its concrete being used in the greatest makeover of a metropolis ever.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports on the giddying pace of change in Beijing - the new airport and transport system, the skyscrapers, the modern hotels and apartments - but he also investigates the cost of this relentless modernisation, the toll it takes on poorer people and the environment.

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