Starting today, the city of Beijing will stand in awe of the power and the pomp of swaggering European and US tycoons representing hundreds of billions of US dollars. Chief executive officers from 77 of the Fortune Global 500 conglomerates and their wives will grace the capital for the three-day Fortune Global Forum under the grand theme of 'China and the New Asian Century'. They will be among 847 participants, including 25 senior Chinese officials. President Hu Jintao will give a keynote speech at a gala dinner tonight at a venue to be decided by the weather - inside the Great Hall of the People (if it rains) or outside the Temple of Heaven (if it doesn't). Local papers have been full of reverent reports, relaying details such as how more than 40 Gulfstreams and other types of corporate jets will land and park at Beijing Capital International Airport over the next few days, a record number in the history of the People's Republic. The reports say the central government has pulled no punches to ensure the corporate titans feel comfortable. A new 50,000 square metre parking apron was purpose-built to accommodate the Gulfstreams, and officials spent tens of millions of yuan in taxpayers' money on other elaborate preparations, including a Qing dynasty-style tea reception for the tycoons' wives at the Summer Palace. More than 500 overseas and mainland journalists have applied to cover the forum, but only a small number will be allowed into the sessions due to media restrictions placed by Fortune, the US magazine controlled by Time Warner. Most will be asked to watch live circuit-television coverage in the press centre, away from the main venue. But journalists from Hong Kong and other areas are not the only group complaining about the event. Many mainland officials and academics have criticised the authorities' extravagant spending on a basically commercial event, which charges participants hefty fees for three days of schmoozing. No one disputes the importance of the event, which will give Chinese leaders an opportunity to explain the country's growth story to an impressive array of world business leaders, including those from General Motors and Wal-Mart. But the central government's full support for the event is unfair to the organisers of hundreds of similar forums and seminars scheduled for Beijing this year, detractors say. No one doubts that Fortune magazine has the clout and influence to bring together world business leaders. But as 'China fever' is sweeping the world, the promise of an audience with Mr Hu and several dozen other top mainland officials and businessmen would probably have the same effect in any other situation. The same can be said about the international media. Newsweek recently published a glowing cover story on the rise of China without any prompting from mainland authorities.