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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.

A City's History
A senior staff of Xi'an's local history office talks about changes in the city over the last six decades
- In Artifacts She Trusts- Qinqiang Master
- Ancient Gateway
Forever Young
The ancient city gears up for the future
- Mr. Shen Means Business
- Rejuvenating the Qinhuai River
Chongqing Tourism Breaks Bottlenecks
The tourism industry in Chongqing has developed rapidly and looks forward to a prosperous future
- Memories of Chongqing in Cartoons
- Chongqing Reviving
Great Strides in 60 Years
Sixty years of Nanning history through the eyes of its residents
- Carrying On the Zhuang Folk Song- Blueprint for Growth
- From Rags to Riches
Off the Beaten Path
Yangzhou and Zhenjiang share one river and many stories to tourists who find the two cities
- Tasting Yangzhou- In Search of Tranquility
- Lakeside Respite- Next Door to Heaven
The Invisible Resurrection
A revival in fortunes in post-quake Chengdu is inevitable, given the diverse sights of interest in the popular city
- Love Is All Around- Rethinking the Quake
- Safe to Visit- Panda Protection First
A Thousand Views of the Bund
An outsider discovers life in Shanghai
- Shanghai Steps up- Shanghai Landmarks
- A Long Love Affair- Ready for the Event
Ice City's New Identity
Harbin is turning itself from a heavy industrial base into a tourist destination
- Through the Lens
- To Be Continued
- Jews in Harbin
- Art for Art's Sake
More Than a Sport
Qingdao is well on its way to claiming the title of Sailing City in the post-Olympic era
- Beer City
- Building a Blue Dream
- Music for All
- A Cut Above the Rest
The Flying Egret Island
Xiamen enjoys a strong economy and robust tourism
- Photo Memories
- Dadeng Island: Letting Go of the Past
- Changing Faces of Zhongshan Road
Watertown Cleans Up
The renovation of Suzhou mirrors the development history of Chinese cities
- The Garden Ambassadors
- The Many Faces of Suzhou
- Mixed Motives
- Liquid Soul
A Decade to Remember
A closer look at what has changed and what has not
- A Change for the Better
- An Unprecedented Law
- Hong Kong's Bright Future
- Memories of the Noonday Gun
When the Night Falls
Evenings in Beijing today are more about beer and dancing than tea and taiji
- Sign of the Times
- Breaking the Language Barrier
- Great Capital
- The -est of Beijing
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