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Asia Welcomes 2002 - 2002-01-01


Asia has greeted the New Year with a mix of traditional gatherings, speeches from national leaders and plain old revelry.

A temple bell rings as Japanese worship at midnight, praying for a good new year. Japan's Emperor Akihito, in his traditional New Year speech Tuesday, expressed his hope for world peace and greater international friendship.

In Hong Kong, nearly 400,000 partygoers danced in the streets, and cheered as the countdown reached midnight.

Revelers in the Philippines shot off thousands of firecrackers and guns to welcome 2002. Philippines police say that nearly 500 people were injured in the celebrations, including 22 people hit by stray bullets.

In China, President Jiang Zemin summed up 2001 in a speech Monday night, hailing 2001 as a landmark year for China, with its entry to the World Trade Organization and its winning bid to host the 2008 Olympics. Mr. Jiang says that this year, the nation can look forward to the 16th Party Congress next autumn, when he and other senior leaders will step down.

Restaurants around Beijing are busy offering New Year banquets featuring favorite dishes such as roast duck and lamb hot pot, as the Chinese enjoy a three-day New Year's holiday.

And in New Zealand, Associate Finance Minister Trevor Mallard started off the year with an historical first, the first cash transaction using the euro, the new European Union currency. Euro coins and bills came into legal use Tuesday, which started 10 hours earlier in New Zealand than in most of Europe.

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