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Musical notes for new China
By Huang Qing (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-08-29 09:53

Piano prodigy Lang Lang claimed piano represented modern China when referring to his performance at the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony. It is arguable whether piano best represents modern China but Lang Lang is for sure a good representation of modern China, especially when he plays the Yellow River Cantata.

The fact that there are amazingly more people playing the piano today in China than anywhere else in the world may convince many that piano has become a symbol of contemporary China.

However, will our traditional instruments such as guqin and guzheng be lifted to also represent modern China, since playing these instruments has always been regarded as an accomplishment in our culture?

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My Shanghai relatives came to Beijing for the Olympics last week and said that Beijing, including Beijing residents, had changed for the better.

Yes, the Olympic Games was exceptional and Beijing residents were willing to change. Language, behavior, attitudes and so on, to the surprise of many of our compatriots who used to think Beijingers were the most arrogant. If anything that can change Beijingers, the Olympics can.

The physical change of Beijing - facilities and infrastructure built for the Olympics - will stay and Beijing residents will benefit from them. We should be grateful to our nationals, especially migrant workers who have contributed to the spectacular face-lift of Beijing.

However, will the changes in ourselves be our legacy? And last for long? Or just become our collective memory only? Pessimists and optimists differ and cannot agree. At this point perhaps it is too early to come to any conclusion. Just wait and see.

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Netizens have been debating lately whether the odd-and-even plate number system should continue and keep half of the cars off the road even after the Paralympic Games.

The system has contributed to the smooth operation of Beijing's transportation during the past month.

According to Beijing News, a poll among 12,000 netizens finds some 14 percent supported continuing the system, 26 percent supported conditional continuing, 38 percent would like to see the system be abolished after September 20 and the rest did not give their opinion.

To me the poll is convincing and I doubt the authorities will go against the majority to adopt the odd-and-even number plate policy soon. However to abolish the now successful system will certainly turn Beijing back into a non-livable city with traffic jams and terrible air pollution.

This is going to be a hard decision. I have always wondered why in the first place should Beijing have introduced auto industry since this is the capital city. A city with auto industry is bound to encourage auto consumption.

If the municipal government is serious about building Beijing into a suitable city for living, it needs to reconsider its industrial policy.

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Li Xinhua, a Chinese student now studying in the University of Iowa, US, wrote in the 21st Century that "China has suddenly ascended to stardom" thanks to American media coverage of Beijing Olympics.

However being in America, she understands the US media better than most Chinese who take great delight for the overwhelmingly positive media coverage of the Beijing Olympics. But this is not going to last as she warned.

The Western media will put China on trial soon. Having been through so many ups and downs during the past seven years as we prepared and staged the Games, I simply hope that we are more confident now to not be too sensitive to outside criticism.