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Beijing's latest showpiece adds grandeur to the city's skyline

BEIJING: The tallest building in Beijing opened for business on Tuesday, Aug 31, forming the centrepiece of the capital's central business district.

The 330-metre, 81-storey main tower of the China World Trade Centre Phase Three complex is decorated with 24-carat gold foil on the lobby walls and is supported by a special structure to prevent it from collapsing if struck by an aircraft.

Sitting at the heart of the business district — a thicket of towers sprouting up between international hotels and the diplomatic enclave — the new tower marks a milestone in Beijing's efforts to create a skyline as memorable as Manhattan or Hong Kong.

"It is a new beginning, beckoning a fresh round of development in the capital," said Ji Lin, a deputy mayor of Beijing.

The project not only acts as a symbol of the city's economic growth, but also the country's wish to improve its foreign investment environment, officials said.

"The World Trade Centre is a Beijing landmark — it has witnessed the capital's evolution to a cosmopolitan city over the past 25 years. The opening of a new tower today symbolises a new era and a great future for the city," Vice-Minister of Commerce Liao Xiaoqi said.

The World Trade Centre was once the nation's largest joint-venture property project. Phase One opened after the 1989 pro-democracy protest and became a symbol of foreign investors' confidence in China as well as the government's commitment to reform and openness policies, amid uncertainty over the country's future development following the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Phase Two opened for business on Oct 1, 1999, marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic.

The Phase Three tower, which opened on Tuesday, has a floor area of 280,000 square metres. The first 50 floors are earmarked for office use, while top floors house the 278 guest rooms and suites of the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts group's five-star China World Summit Wing.

The development is a joint venture between several mainland companies and the Kerry Group, the largest shareholder in the SCMP Group, which publishes the South China Morning Post. — South China Morning Post
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