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Throughout its long history, Beijing has oscillated between being a center of imperial grandeur and a city subjugated by foreign powers. In the 21st century, it has again emerged as a seat of global power and influence, modernizing at a breakneck pace. Yet amid the new skyscrapers, crowded roadways, and all the other trappings of development brought on by China's rise, Beijing retains much of the sleepy charm that characterized it a century ago. This is the real reward for visitors: the discovery that, at its cultural foundation, so little of the city has really changed.