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People's Republic of China

People’s Republic of China

Anhui Province, China

Anhui province has no logical theory or historical traces of existence before the 17th century. With the present day Henan Province, Northern Anhui mostly follows the culture of the North China Plains. With the watersheds of Huai He River, Central Anhui constitute most of the fertile and densely populated area. It follows the culture closer to that of the province of Hubei. However, the population in the hills of southeastern Anhui follow their very own distinct and so many diverse culture.

Beijing Municipality, China

The capital city of China is Beijing and it is also one of the four municipalities of China. Beijing is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China and sometimes in the English language is also referred to as Peking. Beijing shares its northern, westerns, southern borders as well as some portion of the eastern border with the province of Hebei. It also shares its southeastern borders with the Tianjin Municipality.

Chongqing Municipality, China

The Municipality of Chongqing has a population of 32 million and is located in the People’s Republic of China. It was earlier part of the Province of Sichuan. Being the largest inland port in the West of the People’s Republic of China it connects the East of the P.R. China through the Yangtze River. Chongqing has a booming economy, in fact it is the third fastest growing economy in the People’s Republic of China.

Fujian Province, China

The name of China’s Fujian province originated from the two cities of Fuzhou and Jianou which are situated in to the southeast coast of China. Fujian is bordered by Jiangxi Province to the west, Guangdong Province to the south, Zhejiang Province to the north and R.O.C. (Taiwan) is located to the east which is overlooking the Strait’s of Taiwan. The Province of Fujian has so many touristic attractions such as the Yongquan Temple in the city of Fuzhou, the temple of Guanghua in Xiamen on Gulangyu Island.

Gansu Province, China

The Province of Gansu in the People’s Republic of China has a population of 26 million inhabitants. The Yellow River passes through the southern section of the province of Gansu and the province is located between the Huangtu and the Qinghai Plateaus, at the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Gansu Province has Mongolia to the north and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to the west. The capital city of Gansu Province is Lanzhou City which is in the southeastern part of Gansu Province.

Guangdong Province, China

Guangdong is located on the Southern side of the People’s Republic China. It has taken over the provinces of Sichuan and Henan and China’s province of Guangdong is now the most thickly settled province in the People’s Republic of China. Guangzhou is Guangdong’s capital but Shenzhen is the industrial gateway to Southern China as it is just an hour away from the Special Administration Region’s of Hong Kong and well Macau.

Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China

Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is located in the South of the People’s Republic of China, bordering the Gulf on Tonkin in Viet Nam. Guangxi Zhuang was accorded the status of a province during the Yuan Dynasty but in 1949 it received the status as an Autonomous Region. Guangxi Zhuang has borders with the Province of Yunnan to the West, Hunan Province to the northeast, Guizhou to the North and Guangdong Province to the Southeast.

Guizhou Province, China

The Province of Guizhou in the People’s Republic of China is bordered on the Westen side by the Province of Yunnan, on the East by the Province of Hunan and in the North by the Province of Sichuan. Tourist’s visiting Guizhou, will mainly visit the cities of Duyun, Anshun, Kaili, Qingzhen and/or the city of Liupanshui. Guizhou has a subtropical and at times a very humid climate. China’s Province of Guizhou has minority groups such as the Bai, Tujia, Zhuang, Yi, Miao, Qiang, Dong, Yao, Buyi, Tujia, Shui and Gelao and about half of these counties are self governing prefecture’s or counties.

Hainan Island, China

Hainan Island is located on the southern coast of the People’s Republic of China. Due to it’s small size, Hainan is the smallest province of the P.R. of China. The Chinese government in Beijing claims that the Spratly Island and Paracel Island but it’s disputed by several countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Straits of Qiongzhou seperates Hainan. The Gulf of Tonkin in the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam lies West of Hainan Island.

Hebei Province, China

The Province of Hebei is located in the northern part of the People’s Republic of China. It is encircled by the Municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin. It adjoins Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to the north, Henan Province to the south, Liaoning Province to the northeast and Shandong Province to the southeast. The city of Zhangjiakou, Handan, Qinhuangdao, Baoding, Tangshan and Shijiazhuang are the most important cities in the province of Hebei.

Henan Province, China

The word Henan in Chinese means the place south of the Yellow River. The province of Henan is located central in the People’s Republic of China. Henan province is a densely populated Chinese province with a hundred million people. Henan Province has borders with the provinces of Shandong, Anhui Province, Shaanxi Province and Shanxi. The capital of Henan is Zhengzhou which is a heavily populated Chinese city. The city of Anyang, Kaifeng, Luoyang, Xinxiang and Xuchang are the other major cities of the province of Henan.

Hubei Province, China

The central province in the People’s Republic of China is Hubei. The meaning of Hubei means “North of the Lake” as it is located north of Lake Dongting. Wuhan is the capital city of Hubei Province. Hubei is bordered by Henan Province, Anhui Province, Jiangxi Province, Hunan Province, Chongqing and the province of Shaanxi. The Three Gorges Dam is situated in the city of Yichang in the western part of Hubei Province. The outbreak of the Black Death destroyed the province of Hubei in 1334 and in 1368, the Mongols were thrown out by the Ming Dynasty.

Hunan Province, China

Changsha is the capital city of the province of Hunan. Hunan Province is situated to the south of Lake Dongtine and is located in the middle of the River Yangtze. Hunan shares borders with Chongqing, Jiangxi Province, Guangdong Province, Hubei Province, Guangxi and the Province of Guizhou. Hunan Province has so many touristic attractions to explore. Wulingyuan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Yueyang Pagoda in Yueyang, Hengshan Pagoda in Hengyang and the Shaoshan Chong is the birthplace of Mao Zedong.

Heilongjiang Province, China

Heilongjiang was the first Chinese communist controlled province. The major city of the province of Heilongjiang is Harbin which is also the caital city of Heilongjiang. The province of Heilongjiang was given to the Chinese by the Soviet forces. It was conceded by the Japanese who lost the battle in 1945 to the Soviet forces. The communist’s were then able to control the beginning of the Chinese Civil War from Manchuria in Heilongjiang. Heilongjiang province has grown with time in terms of area. It included only the western parts of the province and Qiqihar was the captal.

Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China

The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has a land area of around 302 million acres, which is almost 12% of the total land area of the People’s Republic of China. The capital of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is Hohhot. According to the 2004 census, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has a population of around 25 million people. The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is bordered by the Province of Heilongjiang, Jilin Province, Liaoning Province, Hebei Province, Shanxi Province, Shaanxi Province, Gansu Province and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Inner Mongolia also shares borders with Mongolia and Russia

Jiangsu Province, China

Located along the east coast of the People’s Republic of China, the Province of Jiangsu has borders with Anhui Province, Zhejiang Province, the Municipality of Shanghai and the province of Shandong. The River Yangtze passes in between the southern parts of Jiangsu Province. In addition Jiangsu Province has a shoreline of almost 1.020 km along the Yellow Sea. The capital of Jiangsi Province is the city of Nanjing. Nanjing was for many centuries the historical capital of the many Chinese dynasties that has ruled over China.

Jiangxi Province, China

Situated in the South of the People’s Republic of China is the Chinese Province of Jiangxi. Jiangxi Province shares borders with Anhui Province, Fujian Province, Zhejiang Province, Guangdong Province, Hunan Province and Hubei Province. Jiangxi Province is surrounded by the Jiuling Mountains, Mufu Mountains and the Luoxiao Mountains, Wuyi Mountains, Huaiyu Mountains, Dayu Mountains and the Jiulian Mountains. UNESCO has identified the Lushan National Park in the province of Jiangxi as a World Heritage Site.

Jilin Province, China

In the northeastern part of the People’s Republic of China is the Province of Jilin. Jilin Province is bordered by Liaoning Province, North Korea and Russia to the east, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to the West and the Province of Heilongjiang to the north. Popular tourist destination for natural scenery is the Baekdu Mountain with Lake Heaven sharing borders with North Korea. If you enough time, you should travel to the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture that houses the ancient royal tombs of the Balhae Kingdom, that include tombs at the Longtou Mountain such as of the Princess Zhen Xiao’s at a Mausoleum.

Liaoning Province, China

The Chinese Province of Liaoning is located in the People’s Republic of China. Liaoning Province shares its borders with the Yellow Sea also known as the Korean Bay and the Gulf of Bohai which is to the south. Liaoning Province is in addition linked to the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In the west, Liaoning shares its borders in the Southeast with Hebei Province and with North Korea. The important cities of the Province of Liaoning for industry, tourism and trade are Shenyang, Dalian, Anshan, Liaoyang, Fushun and Dandong.

Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China

Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is in the Northwest of the People’s Republic of China. The Yellow River flows through Ningxia Hui. The capital city of Ningxia Hui Automomous Region is the city of Yinchuan. After the Mongol influence in the 13th century, Turkish speaking Muslims settled in Ningxia Hui region but this led to tension with the Han and Hui population and after a few years this eventually turned into a Muslim rebellion and the Qing Dynasty killed around twelve million Chinese Muslims during that time.

Qinghai Province, China

The Province of Qinghai is bordered by the Tibet Autonomous Region to the Southwest, the Province of Sichuan to the Southeast and Xinjiang Autonomous Region and the Province of Gansu to the Northeast. The Province of Qinghai is to the Northeast Tibetan plateau and both the Yangtze River and Mekong River originate Southwestern Qinghai Province. Xining – the capital of Qinghai Province has some significant and historic attractions such the the Northern Mountain Temple or the Dongguan Mosque also known as the Great Mosque of Xining.

Shaanxi Province, China

The Province of Shaanxi is located in the Central-north of the People’s Republic of China. Shaanxi has large desert along its borders with the Inner Mongolia Autonomousi Region. Some of the significant cities of Shaanxi Province are Tongchuan, Xianyang, Yan’an ,Ankang, Baoji, Hanzhong, Lintong and Xi’an. Xi’an also boasts the Banpo Neolithic Village and the Great Mosque of Xi’an, as well as the Bell and Drum Tower or the History Museum of Shaanxi Province.

Shanghai Municipality, China

Shanghai is situated on the delta of the Yangtze River on the East coast of China. It shares its northern and western borders with the province of Jiangsu and southern borders with the Zhejiang Province. The eastern parts of Shanghai are surrounded by the East China Sea. The Huangpu River bisects the city. Shanghai is gaining popularity as a tourist destination because of its famous historical locations and monuments. The city was able to maintain an excellent level of economic productivity even in the most turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution.

Sichuan Province, China

Sichuan Province shares it’s borders with the Municipality of Chongqing, Qinghai Province, Gansu Province, Shaanxi Province, Guizhou Province, the Autonomous Region of Tibet and Yunnan Province. The capital city of Sichuan Province is the city of Chengdu. On May 12th 2008, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 rocked Sichuan Province. The epicenter of the earthquake was about 90km northwest of the capital city of Chengdu. The Death toll rate was put at 68.500 and 354,045 Sichuanese were injured.

Tianjin Municipality, China

Tianjin is the largest city in the northern of the People’s Republic of China. Tianjin Municipality after the Municipality of Beijing and Shanghai Municipality is the third largest urban area in mainland China. The Municipality of Tianjin is borderd by the Province of Hebei and the Municipality of Beijing. Rapid development was seen in Tianjin during the 70’s when the People’s Republic of China opened up for international trade but it is far behind in terms of economical growth with Shanghai and Beijing.

Tibet Autonomous Region, China

The Autonomous Region of Tibet is after Xinjiang Uyghur the second largest Province/Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. The vast majority of the population are Tibetan. So there is an international debate to extent Tibet more autonomy but the Chinese government argues that ample autonomy has been provided under Article 112 ~ 122 under the constitution of the People’s Republic of China.

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China

Xinjiang Uyghur is a self governing region in China. Hence it is referred to as the Autonomous region of China. Xinjiang covers a large area that makes up approximately one sixth of the total geographical area of China’s territory. The area, despite its vastness the population of the region is relatively sparse. Xinjiang shares its southern borders with the Tibet Autonomous Region, the borders on the south east with the Qinghai and Gansu province, the border on the east with Mongolia, on the north and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and India are on the western border.

Yunnan Province, China

The Tropic of Cancer runs through the southern part of Yunnan, which is the most southwestern province of the territory of China. The province of Yunnan covers an area of 394,000 square km which is 4.1% of the total area of the nation. A fraction of the Yunnan-Guizhou plateau is made up by the northern parts of the Yunnan province. On the eastern border of the province lie the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guizhou Province. On the northern border of the Yunnan province is the Sichuan Province. The Tibet Autonomous Region lies on the northwestern border of Yunnan.

Zhejiang Province, China

On the eastern side of China lies the Zhejiang Province of which Hangzhou is the capital. Zhejiang shares its northern borders with the Jiangsu province and Shanghai Municipality, its northwestern borders with Anhui Province, the western borders with the Jiangxi Province and the southern borders with Fujian Province. On the east lies the great East China Sea and beyond the East China Sea are situated the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. The Province of Zhejiang came to be well known during the period of the Southern Song and Yuan dynasty.

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Britain’s Last HK Governor Bemoans Territory’s Loss of Autonomy

As Britain’s last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten introduced a series of democratic reforms in preparation for what was expected to be 50 years of relative autonomy following the territory’s return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Since then, he has watched that autonomy get slowly whittled away.

What Beijing has done to Hong Kong is the “biggest assault on freedom and liberty in any city in the 21st century, certainly as big as anywhere else,” Patten said at a virtual policy forum last week.

“What they’re doing in Hong Kong is to destroy what was promised in Hong Kong: a high degree of autonomy — one country, two systems. They’re doing that in a way which I must say will give Taiwan even greater room for thought because I’m sure what they’re doing in Hong Kong, they would like to do one day in Taiwan.”

Map of Hong Kong China and Taipei Taiwan
Hong Kong China and Taipei Taiwan

Patten spoke at a discussion on the future of Hong Kong organized by the Canada-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute in partnership with the London-based Hong Kong Watch, the EU-based European Values Center for Security Policy and the multinational Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China.

Discussing Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s objective in Hong Kong, Patten said: “In so far that he cares a jot about Hong Kong — I’m not sure he does, really — is that Hong Kong should simply be another Shenzhen, a neighbor to Shenzhen that loves China and therefore loves the Communist Party.”

Shenzhen is the southernmost city of China’s continental territory, bordering Hong Kong.

The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to rule Hong Kong in the same way as the rest of China not only deprives Hong Kongers of the lifestyle and freedoms they cherish, but also stands to slow China’s own economic development, Patten said.

"We know that 70% of direct investment that goes into China, and investment that comes out, goes through Hong Kong," he said. "We know about the importance of [initial public offerings] which are funded through Hong Kong."

A man wearing face mask walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange…
A man wearing face mask walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Sept. 28, 2020.

"One reason why so many investors will make their excuses and disappear to Singapore or to Seoul or to Tokyo is because they know the importance of free flow of information," he added. "They know that’s not possible in a Chinese communist system."

In the 90-minute seminar that also featured other speakers, Patten said the current decade “may represent what’s called ‘peak China,’” but it is important not to exaggerate China’s importance to the rest of the world.

“It’s true that China is the largest country in the world, and it’s true that China is a huge market for us. But the truth of the matter is: China needs us just as much, and perhaps in some respects even more, than we need China.”

British exports to China have increased in real terms by just 3% since 1980 while China’s exports to Britain have risen by 9%, he said. “So who’s helping whom?”

“I think it’s very, very important that we don’t fall for the Chinese communist confection that somehow we all need them more than they need us.”

Patten stressed that emerging global efforts to constrain China’s power are not a war against the Chinese people.

“It is not anti-Chinese to say we should stand up for liberal democracy," he said. “Standing up for liberal democracy means standing up for one another,” not the least those in Hong Kong and in the rest of China.

Patten, serving as chancellor of Oxford University since 2003, urged the international community to help “provide a lifeline” to those who dare to resist China and the pro-Beijing Hong Kong authorities, including by providing more Hong Kong students with fellowships to study abroad.

Original Article from Isaan.Live

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US Imposes Curbs on Exports by China’s Top Chipmaker SMIC

The U.S. government has placed new export restrictions on China's most advanced maker of computer chips, citing an “unacceptable risk” that equipment sold to the country’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) could be used for military purposes.

According to a letter Friday by the Commerce Department, American suppliers of certain technology products to SMIC will need to apply for individual licenses before they can export to the Chinese company.

The U.S. has cut off China's telecom giant Huawei from essential supplies of semiconductors since September 15. As the requirement takes effect, SMIC becomes the second leading Chinese technology company to face U.S. trade sanctions.

When asked for comment, the Chinese chipmaker told Reuters it had not received any official notice of the restrictions from Washington and said it had no ties with the Chinese military.

'No relationship' with military

Last month, after the Trump administration reportedly was considering adding SMIC to a trade blacklist, the company denied its technology was for military use. “The company manufactures semiconductors and provides services solely for civilian and commercial end-users and end-uses. We have no relationship with the Chinese military,” SMIC said in a statement.

The Chinese company indicated last month that in order to avoid U.S. sanctions, it was willing to abide by the American rules and stop selling chips to Huawei.

For all of China’s efforts to become a global leader in high technology, the factory of the world is yet not able to manufacture top-level contenders in one crucial area — the microchip, the nervous system that runs just about every electronic device. Last year, China imported more than $304 billion in computer chips, more than it spent on crude oil.

SMIC's best manufacturing process is believed to be able to make 14-nanometer microchips, which are several generations behind Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which already makes 5-nanometer chips. Even for those less advanced chips, SMIC still heavily relies on American technology and equipment.

Original Article from Isaan.Live

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People's Republic of China

Beijing Coronavirus Covid-19 News Update

beijing1000x600

Beijing (北京 Běijīng) is China’s capital, and its second largest city after Shanghai, with a population of more than 20 million. It has been the capital of the Chinese Empire for much of its history, and became seat of the People’s Republic of China after the Chinese Revolutions, as well as the country’s educational and cultural center.

The city is well known for its flatness and regular construction. There are only three hills to be found within the city limits (in Jingshan Park to the north of the famous Forbidden City). Like the configuration of the Forbidden City, Beijing is surrounded by concentric so-called “ring roads”, which are actually rectangular.

Beijing is a dynamic, changing city. There is a mix of old and new all around (especially within the 3rd and 2nd Ring Roads). Here you can see the most modern, envelope-pushing technologies and social innovations butting heads with the most ancient cultural norms and social settings. The people here can seem a bit cold, but once you break the ice you will find that they are very friendly and engaging.

Be prepared for customs and societal norms that are different from yours; see the China article for discussion. However most Beijingers are sophisticated urbanites, so things may seem less odd here than in rural areas or cities in the interior of China.

The city has hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and will host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The capital city of China is Beijing and it is also one of the four municipalities of China. Beijing is one of the Great Ancient Capitals of China and sometimes in the English language is also referred to as Peking. Beijing shares its northern, westerns, southern borders as well as some portion of the eastern border with the province of Hebei. It also shares its southeastern borders with the Tianjin Municipality.

After Shanghai, Beijing is the largest city in China and it is a major centre for transportation with an excellent network of railways, motorways and roads. Beijing is also an important place on many international airway routes. Beijing is formally celebrated as the political, cultural and educational capital of the People’s Republic of China. On the other hand, Shanghai and Hong Kong are considered to be the economic centers of China. Beijing is the host city of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

Understand

History of Beijing

Beijing literally means Northern Capital, a role it has played many times in China’s long history. Beijing’s history dates back several thousand years but it first became notable in Chinese history after it was made the capital of the State of Yan under the name Yanjing. Yan was one of the major kingdoms of the Warring States Period, some 2,000 years ago. After the fall of Yan, during the later Han and Tang dynasties, the Beijing-area was a major prefecture of northern China.

In 938, Beijing was conquered by the Khitans and declared the capital of the Liao Dynasty. The Mongols seized the city in 1215. From 1264 Beijing served as the capital of a united China under Kublai Khan. His victorious Mongol forces renamed the city, Great Capital (大都). From there, Kublai and his descendants ruled their empire from a northern location closer to the Mongol homelands. During this period, the walled city was enlarged and many palaces and temples were built.

After the fall of the Mongol-founded Yuan dynasty in 1368, the capital was initially moved to Nanjing. However, in 1403 the 3rd Ming emperor, Zhu Di, also known as Emperor Yongle, moved it back to Beijing and gave the city its present name. The Ming period was Beijing’s golden era. The Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and many other Beijing landmarks were built in this period. The capital developed into a huge city becoming the religious and cultural center of Asia.

In 1644, the Manchus overthrew the declining Ming dynasty and established China’s last imperial line – the Qing. Despite the changing political climate, Beijing remained the capital. The Manchu imperial family moved into the Forbidden City and remained there until 1911. The Qing built both the Summer Palace and Old Summer Palace. These served as summer retreats for the emperors and their entourages. During the 19th century, Western countries established foreign legations in the Qianmen area south of the Forbidden City. These came under siege during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.

The Qing dynasty fell in 1911. In the chaotic first years of Republican China, Beijing was beset by fighting warlords. Following the Northern Expedition, the Kuomintang moved the capital to Nanjing in 1928, and renamed Beijing as Beiping (“Northern Peace”) to emphasize that it was no longer a capital. Beijing remained a center for education and culture throughout the Republican Era. When the Kuomintang was defeated by the Communists in 1949, the new government proclaimed a People’s Republic with its capital at Beijing.

Orientation

Beijing is characterised by its vastness and large distances between locations. The city used to be almost entirely made up of hutongs with narrow lanes and single story buildings. Now, many of the hutongs have given way to broad boulevards and modern buildings, contributing to an airy, sprawling feel, in sharp contrast to cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Beijing is the political centre of the country, with official buildings and embassy areas dominating the city. Beijing is also the historical and cultural centre of China with many historical buildings and sites – especially within Ring Road Two. The city has undergone rapid modernisation, with improvements of institutions, business environment and work conditions.

People

Given their city’s historical, cultural and political heft, Beijingers are justifiably proud to be citizens of the capital. An attitude known as 大北京主义 or “Great Beijing-ism” is often used to describe their attitude toward people from other regions of China. They are often much more interested in politics and willing to talk about current events than people elsewhere in China. Beijingers also seem to focus on not losing face and often use humor in order to do so. However, many Chinese from other provinces find Beijingers very friendly and straightforward comparing with people from Shanghai especially.

Weather in Beijing

Beijing has a monsoon-influenced continental climate with hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. The best time to visit is in September and October, during the “Golden Autumn” (金秋). Spring is the season for dust storms and is otherwise warm and dry. Summer can be oppressively hot and the tourist crowds tend to be the largest as well; prevailing winds from the south trap pollutants (mountains lie to the north and west), making summer the worst season for air quality. Winter is cold and dry, with infrequent, but beautiful, snow. Temperatures can easily fall below −10°C in winter and or just as readily rise above 35°C in summer as well.

Demographics and geography

Beijing has a population of 17.55 million people (30% migrants) living on 16,800 km2 distributed in 18 districts. The city borders Hebei Province to the north, west and south and Tianjin Municipality to the east.

Read

  • The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed, (Michael Meyer, 2020) An account of life in one of the city’s remaining hutong neighborhoods by an American who taught English in a local school as a volunteer during the runup to the Olympics, as the city and its residents clashed over the pace and social cost of redevelopment. Meyer puts his story in the context of Beijing’s modern architectural history, an added bonus for readers. Not published in China for five years, until the government could decide on which passages to excise.

Talk

The language of Beijing is Chinese phrasebook. Standard Mandarin itself was the administrative language of the Ming and Qing dynasties and was based mainly on the Beijing dialect. For language students this makes studying in Beijing an excellent chance to learn the language in a relatively pure form. That being said, Beijing dialect contains nasal “er” sounds at the end of many words. Hence the ubiquitous lamb kabobs (羊肉串 yáng ròu chuàn) become “yáng ròu chuànr“. In addition, the Beijing dialect consists of many local slangs which have not been incorporated into standard Mandarin. Beijing taxi drivers are famously chatty and will gladly engage students of the language offering excellent chances to practice the language and get a feel for the changes in the city and country from an “Old Beijinger”.

English is spoken by staff at the main tourism attractions, as well as at major hotels. Otherwise, English speakers are not common, so always get your hotel’s business card to show the taxi driver in case you get lost. Likewise, have staff at your hotel write down the names of any tourism attraction you plan to visit in Chinese, so locals can point you out in the right direction.

Get in

Fly to Beijing

  • Beijing Capital International Airport (北京首都国际机场 Běijīng Shǒudū Guójì Jīchǎng,). Beijing’s main airport is located to the northeast of the central districts, 26 km (16 mi) from the city centre. It serves a large variety of domestic and international destinations and is where most international airlines choose to fly, and is the second busiest airport in the world by passenger numbers as of 2016. 
  • Nanyuan Airport (南苑机场 Nányuàn Jīchǎng,). A former military airfield 17 km (11 mi) to the south of Beijing, now used only by army-linked low-cost operator China United (中国联合 Zhōngguó Liánhé). China United flies daily to Harbin, Dalian, Sanya, Chongqing, Chengdu, and Wuxi. Shuttle buses to the Nanyuan Airport leave Xidan Aviation Building (西单民航大厦 Xīdān Mínháng Dàshà) at 06:10, 07:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00 and 15:00. The first bus (06:10) might not be available every day. Be sure not to take a shuttle bus to Beijing Capital Airport. Check the shuttle bus direction written on it in Chinese. The bus ticket price is ¥16. 

Visa-free transit

Visitors from 53 countries can get a 144 hours transit visa to see the Beijing city and neighboring Tianjin and Hebei provinces. The following countries are included in the transit program:

  • 24 Schengen Agreement Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
  • 15 Other European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Belarus, Monaco
  • 6 American Countries: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile
  • 2 Oceania Countries: Australia, New Zealand
  • 6 Asian Countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar

You have to apply for it at the counter which is right after you exit the plane and walk the corridor. It takes around 45 minutes to get it. After that directly go to Immigration counter which again can take upto 45 minutes to clear. (Do not go to International Transfer which is next to Immigration.)

Travel by train to Beijing

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Beijing has many railway stations. Most trains arrive at the Central, West, South or North stations.

  • Beijing Railway Station (北京站, Běijīng Zhàn). In the heart of the city, served by Subway Line 2. Destinations include: Changchun, Chengde, Dalian, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Hefei, Jilin, Nanjing, Qiqihar, Shanghai, Shenyang, Suzhou, Tianjin, and Yangzhou. High speed trains to the Northeast leave from this station. The trains for Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar), Russia, and North Korea also leave from here.  Public transport leaving the station:
    • Subway line 2. The subway station can be seen as soon as you get out of the station.
    • Taxi. May be expensive and slow.
    • Buses. A great amount of buses serve the station near the road or at the sides of the station. But always remember that Beijing Railway Station East (北京站东 Beijingzhandong) and Beijing Railway Station(北京站 beijingzhan) bus stops serves the station, but not Beijing Railway Station Crossing West and East(北京站口东/西) where is quite distant to the station.
  • Beijing West Railway Station (北京西站, Běijīng Xīzhàn). The largest train station. Destinations include: Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Datong, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Guilin, Guiyang, Hefei, Hohhot, Hong Kong, Kunming, Lanzhou, Lhasa, Ningbo, Qinhuangdao, Sanya, Shenzhen, Taiyuan, Urumqi, Wuhan, Xi’an, and Xiamen. Also, the twice-weekly international through-carriage from Hanoi, Vietnam arrives here. Both “conventional” and high-speed trains (wherever available) to these destinations use Beijing West, although HSR does not (yet) leave the country (but it does go to Hong Kong SAR). See below for transport options leaving the station. 
  • Subway. Lines 7 and 9 stop here.
  • Taxi. There is an underground taxi rank, which usually has at least a ten minute queue. Taxis may be expensive, especially if you have that tourist stench about you. Inevitably a tout will offer to take you out of the queue for an agreed price, but this will result in a significantly higher fare.
  • Public Buses. There is an immense amount of packed public buses that reach most destinations around downtown Beijing – however this can be difficult to navigate. These leave from several locations including directly in front of the train station, east of the train station (there is a largish bus station here) and on the opposite side of Lianhuachi Donglu. If you are desperate to get on the public bus, there is a large sign indicating the routes close to the bus stops on the Beijing West Station side of Lianhuachu Donglu.
  • Beijing South Railway Station (北京南站, Běijīng Nánzhàn). This station is used only by high-speed trains. It offers 70 high-speed services every day to Tianjin, Tanggu, Jinan, Qingdao, Shanghai (under 5 hours), Hangzhou, and Fuzhou. There are also a few services from Beijing South to northeastern China as well as Xiamen. Served by subway Lines 4 and 14 and public buses.
  • Beijing North Railway Station (北京北站, Běijīng Běizhàn). Small compared to the previous three stations, but you might end up here if coming from Inner Mongolia. Destinations include Chifeng, Fuxin, Hailar, Manzhouli, Hohhot, Longhua, Luanping, Nankou, Shacheng, Huailai (via Badaling), Tongliao, and Zhangjiakou. It also offers tour train services to Yanqing and the Badaling Great Wall. Served by Lines 2, 4 and 13 via the adjacent Xizhimen station. Closed due to the construction works for Beijing-Zhangjiakou Higg Speed Railway and was scheduled to be reopened around 2022. Most services has been moved to Changping North Station while suburban rail line S2 was moved to Huangtudian Station.
  • Beijing East Railway Station (北京东站, Běijīng Dōngzhàn). Destinations only include Chengde, Handan and Ji County, Tianjin. Just off the Guomao CBD. It is very rare travellers will have to use this station.
  • Huangcun Railway StationHas just reopened. It is in southern Beijing on Beijing Subway Daxing Line. If having trouble getting tickets to one of the major Beijing stations, try getting a ticket to this station instead. If taking a night train, you’re a bit far from the centre, but the subway opens at 05:30.
  • Shunyi Railway StationJust a short walk away from Subway Line 15 at Shimen station. This station is served by regular rail services, and most of these can be rather slow.
  • Changping North Railway Station (昌平北站 chāngpíngběizhàn). A railway station re-opened to remove existing services from Beijing North Station. Trains here mainky services Inner Mongolia, northeastern Liaoning or further to the northeast. Far from the centre, and the most convient way to get there is to take the bus No.345 from Deshengmen West Transit Hub.

Sightseeing in Beijing

Landmarks

The centre of the city and most important landmark is Tiananmen Square near the centre of the city, administratively in Dongcheng District. This is the world’s largest public square and a must see for all visitors from abroad and from elsewhere in China. The square is surrounded by grand buildings including the Great Hall of the People, the Museum of Chinese History, the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, the Qianmen Gate and the Forbidden City. It is also home to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Monument to the People’s Martyrs and was also the site of the infamous massacre of student activists by the Peoples Liberation Army in 1989.

The National Stadium or Bird’s Nest in Chaoyang District is a new major landmark and the symbol of the 2008 Olympic Games. Two contemporary buildings in Chaoyang District are remarkable landmarks: the CCTV Building (sometimes called The Underpants or Bird Legs by locals) and the World Trade Center Tower III. Both are outstanding examples of contemporary architecture.

There are also a number of remarkable remains from the medieval city including the Ming Dynasty City Wall Site Park (the only remains of the city wall) in Chongwen, the Drum and Bell Towers in Gulou, and Qianmen in Chongwen.

Palaces, temples and parks

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Inside the Forbidden City

The city’s many green oases are a wonderful break from walking along the never ending boulevards and narrow hutongs. Locals similarly flock to Beijing’s palaces, temples and parks whenever they have time. The green areas are not only used for relaxing but also for sports, dancing, singing and general recreation.

The most important palace, bar none, is the Forbidden city (故宫博物院) at the centre of the city, administratively in Dongcheng District. The Forbidden City was home to the Imperial Court during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Unlike many other historical sights, the Forbidden City was relatively untouched during the cultural revolution due to the timely intervention of then-premier Zhou Enlai, who sent a battalion of his troops to guard the palace from the over-zealous Red Guards. The Temple of Heaven (天坛) in Chongwen District is the symbol of Beijing and is surrounded by a lively park typically packed with hordes of local people drinking tea, practicing calligraphy or tai-chi or just watching the world go by.

The Yonghegong (Lama Temple) (雍和宫) in Dongcheng District is one of the most important and beautiful temples in the country. Entrance fees (2018): ¥25. Just opposite is the Confucius Temple (孔廟); entrance fees (2020): ¥25元; open until 18:00 (17:00 in winter), last admittance 30 minutes earlier.

Other parks are scattered around Beijing. Some of the best are Zhongshan Park (中山公园) and Beihai Park (北海公园) in Xicheng District, and Chaoyang Park (朝阳公园) and Ritan Park (日坛公园) in Chaoyang District. The Beijing Zoo (北京动物园) in Xicheng District is well known for its traditional landscaping and giant pandas, however like many Chinese zoos, the conditions for the animals have been questioned.

Haidian District is home to the Summer palace (颐和园), the ruins of the Old Summer Palace (圆明园), Fragrant Hills (香山), and the Beijing Botanical Garden (北京植物园). All are quite close together and worth a visit.

  • Nanluoguxiang(南锣鼓巷) Nanluoguxiang a total length of 786 meters and 8 meters wide. The Lane is a north-south channel during Yuan Dynasty, as the Beijing Hutong protected areas. That “the national capital of Square Lane alley set of five,” said Luo Guo Lane.
  • JuYong GuanJuyongguan Pass, also known as Juyongguan in Chinese, is located 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Changping County, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Beijing. It is a famous pass of the Great Wall of China. Enlisted in the World Heritage Directory in 1987, it is a national cultural protection unit.
  • Olympic Water Park (奥林匹克水上公园). Covering a planned area of 162.59 hectare and a floor area of 32,000 square meters, Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park is designated as the venue for rowing, canoeing and marathon swimming competitions of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and also rowing events during the Beijing Paralympics.

Museums and galleries in Beijing

The museums in Beijing are generally not yet up to the standard seen in cities such as Paris, Rome and New York. However the city contains one of the largest and most well known museums in Asia, the Palace Museum also known as the Forbidden City. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. China’s government is determined to change the backward perception of its museums and has invested heavily in their development. It has also made most of them (not the Forbidden City) free to visit. However, for some museums tickets must be reserved three days in advance.

One of the most well-known museums in Beijing is the National Museum (国家博物馆) in Dongcheng District, which was renovated in 2011. The Military Museum (军事博物馆) in Haidian District has long been a favorite with domestic and foreign tourists. The Capital Museum (首都博物馆) in Xicheng District is a new high profile museum with historical and art exhibitions. The China Aviation Museum (中国民航博物馆) located in the Beijing/Northern Suburbs is surprisingly good and hosts 200+ rare and unique Chinese (mostly Russian) aircraft. Finally, a number of restored former residences of famous Beijingers, especially in Xicheng District, give a good insight into daily life in former times.

The contemporary art scene in Beijing is booming and a large number of artists exhibit and sell their art in galleries around the town. The galleries are concentrated in a number of art districts, including the oldest and easiest accessible, but also increasingly commercial and mainstream, Dashanzi Art District in Chaoyang District. (Bus Line 401 – departing from Dongzhimen or San Yuan Qiao)Other newer and perhaps more cutting edge art districts include Caochangdi in Chaoyang District and Songzhuan Artist’s Village in Tongzhou District.

What to do in Beijing

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Great Wall of China at Badaling

  • The Great Wall of China (长城 chángchéng) about a 1 hour train trip or 1½-hour bus ride from the city (be aware of bus scams). See Great Wall for general information on the Great Wall and Rural Beijing for listings of individual Beijing sections. The Badaling section is the most famous, but also over-restored and crowded. Mutianyu is recommended over Badaling for the conventional tourist experience. It has been restored to the same degree, but is far less crowded. Jinshanling and Huanghuacheng are more difficult to get to by public transportation but offer a better view of the wall away from the crowds. Simatai is a distant section in the northeast that can be combined with a visit at night to or overstay at Gubei Watertown, a recreated historical village beside the wall. The unrestored Jiankou section is dangerous and widely regarded as the most beautiful. Many of the unrestored or “wild” sections of the wall are suitable for camping or hiking. You may want to bring a jacket against the wind or cold in the chillier season – in the summer you will need lots of water.
  • Hutongs (胡同 Hútòng). Beijing’s ancient alleyways, where you can find traditional Beijing architecture. They date back to when Beijing was the former capital of the Yuan dynasty (1266-1368). Most buildings in hutongs are made in the traditional courtyard (四合院 sìhéyuàn) style. Many of these courtyard homes were originally occupied by aristocrats, though after the Communist takeover in 1949 the aristocrats were pushed out and replaced with poor families. Hutongs can still be found throughout the area within the 2nd Ring Road, though many are being demolished to make way for new buildings and wider roads. Most popular among tourists are the hutongs near Qianmen and Houhai. The hutongs may at first feel intimidating to travellers used to the new wide streets of Beijing, but the locals are very friendly and will often try to help you if you look lost.
  • Rent a bicycleTraverse some of the remaining hutongs. There is no better way to see Beijing firsthand than on a bicycle but just be very aware of cars (Chinese driving styles may differ from those you are used to). See above for bike rental information.
  • Hidden City GamePlayers explore Beijing’s hutongs and parks in a bilingual monthly competition on Sunday afternoons. Includes activities based on Chinese traditions, such as calligraphy, music, art, food, science and games. Restaurants sponsor prizes totaling over to 5000rmb.

Theaters and concert halls

National Centre for the Performing Arts in Xicheng District was finalised in 2007 and finally gave Beijing a modern theatre complex covering opera, music and theatre. This is worth a visit even if you do not go to a performance.

The Beijing Opera is considered the most famous of all the traditional opera performed around China. This kind of opera is nothing like western opera with costumes, singing style, music and spectator reactions being distinctly Chinese. The plot is usually quite simple, so you might be able to understand some of what happens even if you do not understand the language. Some of the best places to watch Beijing Opera are found in Xuanwu District including Huguang Huguang Theatre and Lao She Teahouse. There are also a number in Dongcheng District including Chang’an Grand Theatre.

Acrobatics shows are also worth a visit if you want to see some traditional Chinese entertainment. Some of the best shows are found in Tianqiao Acrobatics Theatre in Xuanwu District and in Chaoyang Theatre in Chaoyang District.

Drama plays have had a slow start in Beijing and are still not as widespread as you might expect for a city like Beijing, and you will most likely not be able to find many Western plays. However, some good places for contemporary Chinese plays do exist including Capital Theatre in Dongcheng District and Century Theater in Chaoyang District.

Classical music has got a much stronger foothold in Beijing than drama plays. Some of the best places to go are the National Centre for the Performing Arts and the Century Theater both mentioned above as well as Beijing Concert Hall in Xicheng District.

History of Beijing

During the Chinese Civil War, the Communist forces entered Beijing on January 31, 1949 without meeting any resistance. On October 1st, 1949, under the aegis of Mao Zedong, the Communist Party of China announced the dawning of the People’s Republic of China and also rechristened the name of the city back to Beijing.

In 2001, on July 13th, the International Olympic Committee decided that the city of Beijing would be the host of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

Geography of Beijing

At the northern tip of the North China Plain one can locate the city of Beijing. The city is sheltered by mountain ranges from the north, northwest and the west.

The urban parts of Beijing can be found in the south central part of the city. The urban fraction is a small but rapidly growing part of the municipality’s framework. The most important leaders of the People’s Republic of China have their residences in the Zhongnanhai region of Tian’anmen. The Chang’an Avenue runs from east to west through central Beijing and it is one of the main thoroughfares in Beijing.

Climate of Beijing

The city has a humid and continental climate which is for the most part influenced by the monsoons. As a result of the East Asian Monsoon’s the summers are hot and sultry while the winters are frigid, dry and windy. In January the average temperature is around 1o Celsius while in July the average temperature is recorded to be around 30o Celsius.

Economy of Beijing

The nominal GDP of Beijing in 2007 was 900.62 billion RMB which showed an annual increase of 12.3%. The per capita GDP was seen to be 56,044 RMB. In the recent years there has been a significant rise in the market for real estate and also for the automobile sectors.

Sightseeing in Beijing

The Forbidden City lies at the heart of the historical center of Beijing. It was the home of the emperors of the Ming dynasty and also of rulers of the Qing dynasty. The Forbidden City also comprises of the Palace Museum which contains on display many royal collections of Chinese art.

The Temple of Heaven is an extremely famous religious site in the city of Beijing. It is located in southeastern Beijing and is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty are situated at the outskirts of Beijing. These are the burial sites of thirteen Ming rulers and are also chosen as a World Heritage Site.

Beijing Capital Airport

The Beijing Capital International Airport near Shunyi is the most important airport in Beijing. The airport is the main center for Air China and nearly all domestic and international flights arrive at and depart from the Capital Airport. The airport is linked to central Beijing via the Airport Expressway.

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