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Race to display financial clout rolls on

Among many debates triggered by last month's attack on New York's World Trade Center: one over the wisdom of (and motives for) putting up costly buildings that tower over their neighbors.

Skyscrapers, originally an American architectural phenomenon, have become a source of regional bragging rights in recent decades. Asia surged ahead with the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1996-98. Those towers, at 1,483 feet, trumped America's tallest, Chicago's Sears Tower, by 33 feet.

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The World Trade Center did not stand quite as tall as the Sears building, built in 1974. At a little more than 1,380 feet, the twin towers also trailed the Jin Mao Building in Shanghai.

Now China's at it again: A World Financial Center (artist's version, above) that will rise 1,510 feet above Shanghai if finished, as planned, by 2008.


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