Beijing Orders Big Mac to Go: City to Oust Golden Arches

BREAKING a promise to allow the fast food giant 20 years on Beijing's choicest street corner, the city government said yesterday that McDonald's must move its golden arches.

McDonald's says it doesn't want to go. The outlet, just two blocks from Tiananmen Square, opened only two years ago. It is one of the most profitable McDonald's in China.

But the site surrounding the Wangfujing McDonald's is destined to become the Oriental Plaza, a commercial, office, and residential complex.

``Wangfujing McDonald's belongs to the expansion plan in Wangfujing Street. It needs to be dismantled and moved,'' said an anonymous official in Beijing city's Foreign Liaison office.

The city's decision to break the land-use agreement is likely to shake the confidence of other foreign companies that have invested heavily in shops and factories. McDonald's representatives said they had not been officially notified about the decision.

Sri Lanka talks

TAMIL rebels yesterday accepted a request from Sri Lanka's president to resume peace talks, but insisted the government investigate recent Army violations of a cease-fire.

In a speech over clandestine radio, rebel leader Anton Balasingham said President Chandrika Kumaratunga asked in a letter for a week-long cease-fire to allow peace talks to end the 11-year insurrection. The rebels are angered over the military's continued attacks despite a unilateral cease-fire the insurgents announced on Oct. 12.

Communists begin to lag in Nepal poll

NEPAL'S ruling Congress party staged a late comeback yesterday in general elections, cutting heavily into the Communists' lead and throwing the Himalayan kingdom into political confusion.

``It is not a stable situation,'' said Lok Raj Baral, political science professor at Tribhuvan University in the capital Kathmandu. Congress had lagged behind the Communist Party in early returns from last week's polls, but has since narrowed the gap, with six parliamentary races yet to be decided.

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