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Last Updated: Monday, 19 December 2005, 10:58 GMT
Building Beijing
First broadcast December 2005

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 Three: Building a Spectacle

No-one who visits Beijing or watches the Olympics on television will fail to be impressed with the world class buildings that are already taking shape in the city.

In this programme, we bring you the first media report from the rapid rising National Stadium, the so-called "Birds' Nest" that will hold 100,000 spectators, and the revolutionary "swimming cube", a structure that looks like it is made out of giant soap suds frozen into the shape of a building.

These buildings, together with the massive and controversial new headquarters for China television (CCTV) and the new glassy domed opera house, represent a huge investment and desire to make Beijing a modern international city.

But the buildings have many critics: they are too expensive, too weird, too out of keeping with historic Beijing and with Chinese vernacular architecture.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes battles it out in Building Beijing.


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