Jiang Zemin and the ‘Giant Egg’

Jiang Zemin and the ‘Giant Egg’

  • Nikkei’s China bureau chief offers snapshots of politics amid the pandemic

The Chinese government has made strides in containing the coronavirus, which infected tens of thousands and killed more than 4,000 people in the country while spreading worldwide. At the same time, Beijing is locked in an increasingly heated diplomatic confrontation with Washington. Nikkei’s bureau chief in China, Tetsushi Takahashi, is filing dispatches on what he sees.

The National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, located just west of the Great Hall of the People, reopened on Tuesday. It reopened for tours, to be precise — concerts and theatrical performances have been suspended since Jan. 24, due to the coronavirus, and it remains unclear when they will resume.

Booking a tour is as simple as reserving a place online and buying the 40 yuan ($5.75) ticket at the reception desk. Some may feel the price is steep for only a backstage visit. To others, it might seem cheap. Either way, I quickly signed up.

The theater was designed by Paul Andreu, a French architect. Its innovative domed exterior, with plenty of glass, overwhelms visitors and earned the building the nickname the “Giant Egg.”

Completed in the autumn of 2007, it includes an opera house, a concert hall and other facilities, and can accommodate a total of 6,000 people. Before the pandemic, prominent orchestras from around the globe would hold concerts there almost daily.