New Year's Celebrations: Asian nations giving enthusiastic welcome to 2013

Asia

Fiscal cliff? Recession? Not in Asia, where the first countries to see 2013 dawn will enthusiastically welcome the new year.

Increasingly democratic Myanmar will have a public countdown for the first time. Jakarta plans a huge street party befitting Indonesia's powering economy.

In Sydney, eager revelers camped over Sunday night on the shores of the harbor to get the best vantage points as 1.5 million are expected to see the fireworks show centered on the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

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In Hong Kong, this year's 12.5 million Hong Kong dollar ($1.6 million) fireworks display was being billed by organizers as the biggest ever in the southern Chinese city. Police expect as many as 100,000 people to watch, local news reports said.

The buoyant economies of the Asia-Pacific are prepared to party with renewed optimism despite the so-called fiscal cliff threatening to reverberate globally from the United States and the tattered economy of Europe.

But in New Delhi, the festive mood was marred by the death Saturday of a young rape victim.

Several hotels, clubs and residents associations in Indian capital decided to cancel planned festivities and asked people to light candles to express their solidarity with the victim whose plight sparked public rallies for women's safety.

"Let there be no New Year celebrations across the country. It will be a major tribute to the departed soul,'' said Praveen Khandelwal, the secretary-general of the Confederation of All India Traders, an umbrella group of traders who run shops and businesses across the country.

In a field in Myanmar's largest city, Yangon, workers early Monday were testing a giant digital countdown screen with the backdrop of the revered Shwedagon pagoda. Arranged by local Forever Media group and Index Creative Village, a Thai major event organizer, the celebration will be the first public New Year countdown in Myanmar, a country ruled for almost five decades by military regimes that discouraged or banned big public gatherings.

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