Changing China

Giant on the move

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Chinese smiles show changing times in Beijing


subway smilesIt’s 18 years since I was last in Beijing as a wet-behind-the-ears backpacker, and of course the city is barely recognisable.

But what has really surprised me is the way the atmosphere has changed. Not the smog, but the way the people of China have opened their arms and welcomed visitors from around the world.

When I first came here in 1990, Beijing was a pretty forbidding place, especially for someone who¬†doesn’t speak Mandarin.

It was only a year since the crackdown on student protests in Tiananmen, and you didn’t get the impression many people were keen to be seen in public practising their English with foreigners.