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Wednesday, July 1, 1998 Published at 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK

Itinerary takes in wonders of China

The US President Bill Clinton's historic visit to China aims to usher in a new era of co-operation between the two superpowers.

But the trip will not be all work and no play. Mr Clinton will visit some of the most fascinating monuments and cities in a land steeped in history and mythology. BBC News online offers this guide to the wonders of China.

Wednesday 1 July

President Clinton will have the opportunity to witness China's most beautiful and unique landscape when he visits the town of Guilin, on the banks of the Li River in southern China.

[ image: Guilin: some of China's finest scenery]
Guilin: some of China's finest scenery
Guilin, which was founded in 214 BC, is the country's most famous tourist attraction thanks to the breathtaking and unusual mountains which surround it. The president will take a boat trip along the Li River, the ideal way to see the many bizarre mountains whose shapes have given them names such as Elephant Trunk Mountain, Old Man Mountain, Pagoda Mountain and Hole Mountain.

Guilin resembles many traditional paintings of Chinese countryside with its paddy fields, water buffalo, fisherman in bamboo boats and farmers with turned-up trousers and cone-shaped hats.

Thursday 2 July
Hong Kong

President Clinton's final visit will be to the country's Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Hong Kong, which China re-acquired as a territory one year ago.

[ image: The lively back streets of Hong Kong]
The lively back streets of Hong Kong
Britain's Royal Navy seized Hong Kong, a tiny group of islands, from China in the Opium War of 1839-42 and made it the centre of a flourishing drug trade. The Western conquest of the island began what the Chinese consider to be "150 years of humiliation.''

The British were no more proud. Lord Imerston, the foreign secretary, saw Hong Kong as "a barren rock with hardly a house upon it . . . that will never be a mart of trade.''

[ image: Hong Kong is the last word in modern living and technology]
Hong Kong is the last word in modern living and technology
Both China and Britain were proved wrong. Hong Kong has become known the world over as a hotbed of capitalism, enterprise and money. Historically, made up of the thousands who flooded in from China when the Communist army took over, these refugees remade Hong Kong into a manufacturing and financial center that boasts the world's most expensive real estate and more than its fair share of billionaires.

Hong Kong, the British Dependent Territory, reverted to Chinese control on July 1, 1997.

So far on President Clinton's trip:

Wednesday 24 June

The ancient city of Xi'an in northwest China was once the country's imperial capital. From the time of the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC), the city has witnessed to the rise and fall of 11 dynasties.

[ image: Xi'an's traditional architecture]
Xi'an's traditional architecture
Xi'an was not only the political, economic and cultural centre of the country, but the hub of commercial exchange between China and its foreign trading countries. Most notably, it was the starting point of the famous "Silk Route", an important trade thoroughfare connecting the eastern and the western parts of the world.

Today Xi'an is a modern city and the capital of Shaanxi Province. The largest industrial and commercial centre, science and educational base in this area of China, it also is home to some of the world's most famous and ancient cultural relics of civilisations past.

Thursday 25 June
Terracotta Warriors

Just outside the city of Xi'an, stand thousands of life-size figures and weapons which were buried alongside China's first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi (pronounced Chin Sure-wang-dee) to protect him in his afterlife. There are over 100 chariots, 600 horses, 7,000 warriors and various weapons, which indicate the might of the Emperor's army.

[ image: The Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an]
The Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an
History says that every action of Emperor Qin was devoted to protecting his empire, his people and himself. And from the moment he came to the throne, he prepared himself for death. More than 300,000 labourers were enlisted to create the Terracotta Army which has protected the Emperor's spirit for over 2,000 years.

Amazingly, the Terracotta warriors were only discovered in 1974 by farmers working in the field. They are now among the world's most treasured works of art and form the largest historical museum site in the world.

Friday 26 June

Beijing has been the capital of the People's Republic of China for more than 800 years. Earliest historical records of the city date back to over 3,000 years ago and today, it is the country's political and cultural centre as well as home to over 10 million people.

[ image: Tiananmen Square is the centre of Chinese politics]
Tiananmen Square is the centre of Chinese politics
In Beijing, President Clinton will visit Tiananmen Square, the world's biggest square with room for 1 million people. It stands as a historical site dedicated to China's Communist regime and includes the Mao Zedong Mausoleum, where Chairman Mao's corpse is on display and the Monument to People's Heroes, which was built in 1958 to commemorate all those who died fighting for the Communist army.

[ image: The mass demonstrations by students in 1989]
The mass demonstrations by students in 1989
But recently Tiananmen has been best remembered as the scene of the student-led demonstrations against the Chinese government in May 1989, where around 1,000 activists were shot by the army. It remains the focus point for discussions on China's record on human rights and freedom of speech.

Following his visit to Tiananmen Square, Mr Clinton will be the guest at a State Dinner at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China's Congress.

Saturday 27 June
The Great Wall

Hailed as the "Eighth Wonder of the World", the Great Wall is the largest man-made structure in the world, winding 1,500 miles from the Pacific Ocean almost half-way across modern China. The Great Wall of China is even visible from the moon.

[ image: The world's largest man-made structure]
The world's largest man-made structure
President Clinton will visit part of this engineering phenomenon, which was built over 2,000 years ago under Emperor Shih Huang Pi of the Qin dynasty to keep out nomadic raiders from what is now Mongolia.

Separate parts of the Wall were built by independent kingdoms and were linked together. Armies were then stationed along the Wall to provide warning of invasion and a line of defence.

Hundreds of thousands of workers, many of whom were political prisoners, built the Wall. Legend has it that the bodies of dead workers were used as one of the main building materials.

Chang Cheng or Great Wall took on its present form during the Ming dynasty (1388-1644). One hundred years was spent fortifying the wall with brick and granite work slabs. At its prime, it was 8,000 km long. Today it reaches about 5,000 km and parts of it are undergoing urgent restoration work.

Sunday 28 June
Beijing University

On the final day of President Clinton's stay in Beijing, he will give a speech to students at the city's university.

Beijing University was the cradle of the country's anti-imperialist and anti-feudal movement and has had a prominent revolutionary tradition. It was the centre for the Chinese New Culture Movement and the earliest base for disseminating Marxism in China.

[ image: Students replicated the Statue of Liberty in 1989]
Students replicated the Statue of Liberty in 1989
Mao Zedong, founder of the Chinese Communist Party, was a teacher at the university and always encouraged the establishment to develop and support the construction of New China.

In recent times, Beijing University students have lived up to their reputation by leading the anti-government demonstrations on Tiananmen Square in 1989. An estimated 40,000 of them protested and shouted slogans against government corruption and in favour of freedom of speech and more funds for education.

Monday 29 June and Tuesday 30 June

Shanghai, whose name literally means "on the sea", is one of the world's largest ports. It is the main industrial and commercial city in China. President Clinton is to spend his first day here privately, staying at the famous Shangri-La Hotel.

[ image: Shanghai's Western-influenced architecture]
Shanghai's Western-influenced architecture
On Tuesday, the President will visit the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the first and foremost of its kind in China. It lists two types of issues: A issue stocks can be purchased by local Chinese investors, while the B issues are open for individual or foreign investments.

Shanghai has long enjoyed the reputation of being the financial centre of China and the city which has had the most contact with the Western world. During the Ming dynasty, it was transformed from a small fishing village to an important centre for the silk and cotton industry. By the 1840s, Shanghai was a thriving port and was the first in China to be opened to Western trade.

[ image: Shanghai is situated on the banks of the Huang Pu river]
Shanghai is situated on the banks of the Huang Pu river
Since the Communist victory in 1949, Shanghai has become an industrial hotbed, supplying China's growing domestic demands for capital and consumer goods. It plays an important role in the modernisation of China and its economy, as a result of acquiring a status as one of the special economic zones with a modern financial centre, a hi-tech development and free trade zone.

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Special report: Clinton in China

Historic visit in review

Analysis: Did the trip succeed?

Clinton battles China syndrome

The US and China: An uneasy relationship

Is China a US investor's dream?

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Who's at China's top table?

Human rights flashpoints

Making money in China