China on World Stage as Olympics Begin

BEIJING (AP) - Once-reclusive China has commandeered the world stage, celebrating its first-time role as Olympic host with a stunning display of pageantry and pyrotechnics to open the Summer Games.

Now ascendent as a global power, China welcomed scores of world leaders to Friday's opening ceremony, which was watched by 91,000 people at the eye-catching National Stadium and a potential audience of 4 billion worldwide.

It was depicted as the largest, costliest extravaganza in Olympic history, bookended by barrages of some 30,000 fireworks.  Among the glittering roster of notables on hand: President Bush and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.