Beijing: Mandarin Oriental International Hotel burning

reuters_mandarinoriental-intl-h_20090209Breaking views


Flames engulf the new 44-story tower in Beijing’s central business district.

It was set to house the flagship hotel in China of Mandarin Oriental International Ltd., an Asian luxury chain, due to open midyear. It also was to house a 1,500-seat theater, cinemas, recording studios and exhibition facilities. The silver boot-shaped structure was designed by Mr. Koolhaas as a complement to the better-known main tower – the iconic headquarters of China Central Television.

Beijing officials blamed Lunar New Year fireworks for starting the blaze.


Beijing: lo sport di regime. A showoff of power

Partners In Grime

By Sally Jenkins

Tuesday, August 5, 2008; Page E01

Washington Post

A haze the color of dishwater hangs over the billion-dollar advertising billboards of profiteers such as General Electric and Visa. (…)

So what is this Olympics really about? It’s about 12 major corporations and their panting ambitions to tap into China’s 1.3 billion consumers, the world’s third-largest economy. Understand this: The International Olympic Committee is nothing more than a puppet for its corporate “partners,” without whom there would be no Games. These major sponsors pay the IOC’s bills for staging the Olympics to the tune of $7 billion per cycle. Without them, and their designs on the China market, Beijing probably would not have won the right to host the Summer Games. (…)

Most disgraceful of all is the fact that six of the 12 worldwide Olympic partners are American companies. This has to heart-sicken any patriot. These companies will reap the full exposure of the Summer Games, swathing themselves in the flag, and rationalizing that their business is helping uplift the Chinese people. Don’t buy it — or them. You should know exactly who they are: General Electric (which owns NBC), Coca-Cola, Visa, McDonald’s, Kodak, and Johnson & Johnson. (The others are Canadian-based Manulife Financial; Lenovo, the Chinese personal computer maker; the French information technology services company Atos Origin; the Swiss watch manufacturer Omega; Panasonic; and Samsung.) When these acquiesced to the Chinese government’s crackdown, and effectively accepted the censorship of the press during these Games, they fell into a special category of profiteers that Franklin Delano Roosevelt described in his “Four Freedoms” speech. 

“We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests,” Roosevelt said.

NY Review of Books. Volume 55, Number 13 · August 14, 2008

China: Humiliation & the Olympics

By Orville Schell

After a century and a half of famine, war, weakness, foreign occupation, and revolutionary extremism, a growing number of Chinese have come to look to the Olympic Games as the long-heralded symbolic moment when their country might at last escape old stereotypes of being the hapless “poor man of Asia”; a preyed-upon “defenseless giant”; victim of a misguided Cultural Revolution; the benighted land where in 1989 the People’s Liberation Army fired on “the people.” In one grand, symbolic stroke, the Olympic aura promised to help cleanse China’s messy historical slate, overthrow its legacy of victimization and humiliation, and allow the country to spring forth on the world stage reborn—”rebranded” in contemporary parlance—as the great nation it once had been, and has yearned for so long to once more become.


1. National Stadium and Water Park in Beijing. Credit: Panoramic (source:, July 21, Diaporama: “Le week-end en images 2078”, photo no. 19\20).

2. Yin and Yang as tiger and dragon.



Il salotto di Verona

Today’s picture was taken on a Saturday night (when the square is “bare”,  free from sellers). Verona’s salotto, Piazza Erbe – the ancient vegetables markets as the name says – taken by Giorgio on last June 28.