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Discovering China
Special> 60th Anniversary of The People's Republic of China> Discovering China
UPDATED: October-22-2009
Tales of Cities

Six decades ago, Shanghai was besieged by anxieties, doubts and mockery, as the smoke of gunpowder gradually faded away and the national flag of the People's Republic of China was hoisted over Western-style buildings along the Bund downtown. The future of the metropolis, if it had one, was plain to see--the Communist Party of China (CPC) was strong militarily but weak in economy. The CPC's governance in Shanghai, some argued, would last no more than three months. Meanwhile, the international community also wondered how a grassroots-based Party that came from rural areas would master a city.

Today, the landmark Oriental Pearl Tower and the nearby Shanghai World Financial Center, the country's tallest structure, stand opposite the Bund in the city's shining night. Some 6 km to the south, construction of 2010 World Expo sites alongside the Huangpu River is well underway. "Better City, Better Life," the Expo's theme, seems to be the best answer to those anxieties, doubts and mockery. Shanghai today is a modern cosmopolis on the world stage, having become the country's largest city in terms of economy, finance, trade and shipping. From a revolutionary Party to the ruling one, the CPC has given a satisfactory answer to the whole world.

But this is only one page in New China's 60-year history.

A quick Google search would probably reveal that the Yangguanzhai Ruins in northwest China's Shaanxi Province are considered the first primitive town in ancient China. Covering an area of 240,000 square meters (equivalent to roughly 40 soccer fields), the town was surrounded by a 1,945-meter-long moat during the Miaodigou Cultural Period (4,000-3,500 B.C.). Archaeologists believe that society back then had a simple division of labor. For instance, there were pottery makers, farmers and hunters; their relationships were maintained by blood and a kind of system yet to be identified. Not surprisingly, the ruins ranked first among the country's top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2008.

The Yangguanzhai Ruins established the contours of a city, one with a complete set of social relationships: relations between a city and its people, people-to-people relations, relations between human beings and nature, and relations among a city, its people and time.

The People's Republic of China celebrated its 60th anniversary on October 1, 2009. According to the Chinese calendar, the 60th anniversary is significant because the number 60 represents one complete cycle of the Chinese lunar calendar. The country has brought its people, full of bittersweet memories, back to a new starting point now that the first cycle is complete. What's more, the country's future is being shaped by its people.

Beijing Review focuses on what makes a city--the settlement itself, the things that happen there and most importantly, its people--to tell stories about New China.

Pan Duo
Yuan Longping
Chen Guangbiao
Chen Zhangliang
Zheng Xiaoying
Song Dafang
Jiang Qingliang
Liu Jinyan
Hu Fei
NO. 40, 1959
NO. 40, 1969
NO. 40, 1979
NO. 40, 1989
NO. 42, 1999
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