This month, Beijing will be a global star. For three weeks during the Olympics, billions of TV viewers, and millions of visitors, will see a city remade at the cost of £20 billion. The capital will be the face of China, inspiring the complex mixture of apprehension and admiration that the whole country now seems to provoke in much of the rest of the world.
I first visited the city in 1991, and lived there for three years from 2000. It is not an easy place to love, and it puts its best face forward reluctantly. In line with the massive project of modernisation that has overwhelmed the rest of China, Beijing was first redesigned