It seemed like World War III was in full swing in Beijing last night, what with all the fireworks around the city. At midnight, the horizon in all directions was bright with colorful explosions to welcome in Chinese New Year. The coming year is the year of the "niu," or ox. Since "niu" is pronounced almost like new, it has become de rigeur in China to wish everyone a Happy Niu Year.
The above video is off our building in central Beijing off the Boulevard of Everlasting Peace.
Early this morning, the boulevard, which is normally Beijing’s business road, was so deserted that a blind man could have walked across without any danger.
It’s mid-afternoon now, and the sound of fireworks still fills the air.
New Year’s wishes are rolling into China from leaders around the world. Among the unique expressions of goodwill was the one below from Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. It’s in Mandarin, a language he picked up while serving as a diplomatic in Beijing, more than a decade ago. Sorry, it doesn’t have subtitles. Roughly, he offers his hopes that the coming Year of the Ox will bring more good news in Sino-Australian relations, and that Chinese people will find prosperity and happiness.