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As economic crises loom, a new China struggles to be born

Returning to the city where I was once First Secretary of the British Embassy, I realised just how much China has changed

By Roger Garside  

Photo: Angelika Warmuth/DPA/PA Images

Returning to Beijing recently, I carried in my head images of the city I left in January 1979, when the Reform Era was just dawning. But that city has gone. The hand of God has swept it away, and dropped in its place a gleaming megalopolis of steel and glass, whose dimensions stretch the mind to its limits. This new city speaks to me of prosperity and stability—but are China’s rulers as strong as it suggests?

SUVs choke avenues that run to the horizon, and shining office towers…

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