January 5, 2008

Was This Built in 1507 or 2007?

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Originally published Jan. 4, 9:25 a.m. EST
[img_assist|nid=26535|title=Now and then|desc=From Beijing’s ancient Summer Palace, once the summer residence of the emperor and his family, visitors can see a recently built TV tower.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The day we visited the Forbidden City, home to the emperor and his family in the center of Beijing, all visitors had to leave by 4:30 p.m. As we walked through the expansive grounds, we wondered how the guards possibly got everyone to leave on time. Sun Associate Arts and Entertainment Editor Rebecca Weiss ’09 made a joke that they might have an intercom system in the ancient grounds. We got our answer about 15 minutes before the grounds closed, however. There is a public address system in the Forbidden City.
This is only one of a few amusing seemingly anachronistic (or at least overly globalized) sites we have seen in China. In the area near the main entrance to the Great Wall — among small make-shift shops where Chinese people were selling snacks, Great Wall paraphernalia and warm clothes — sits a Starbucks. By the Great Wall itself, a giant billboard advertises the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A basketball court is located within the walls of the Forbidden City. Next to Chinese restaurants and tourist shops near the Yu Garden, in an old area of Shanghai with pagoda-style architecture, sits a Coffee Bean. On the other hand, the toll booth on the way to Capital Airport in Beijing is designed in a traditional Chinese style. China is a country in transition.

Click here for more about The Sun’s trip to China