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Beijing

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Beijing is the capital of the People's Republic of China, the nation's political and cultural centre and main international communication and innovation hub. It covers an area of over 16,410 square kilometres, housing more than 21 million permanent residents (as of the end of 2015) in 16 administrative districts, including Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan. The city's official flowers are the chrysanthemum and the Chinese Rose, and its official trees are the Chinese Scholar Tree (sophora japonica) and the oriental arborvitae.

Beijing is a famous historical and cultural city with a history spanning more than 3,000 years — over 860 years of which it has served as capital. The city's layout is symmetrical, and lies along a 7.8 km central axis, which stretches from north to south. Designed and built over 700 years ago, this constitutes one of the most remarkable designs in urban history.

Beijing is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and the Ming Tombs, as well as a myriad of splendid places and scenic sites, all of which attract a great influx of tourists from across the world.

Traditional hutongs (alleys) and siheyuan (courtyard residences) display typical local life; and Beijing Opera, characterised by sheng (main male role), dan (female role), jing (painted face male role) and chou (male clown) preserve the quintessence of Chinese culture.

Similarly, time-honoured brands like Tongrentang, Ruifuxiang and Neiliansheng ensure the continuation of traditional Chinese medicine, silk and footwear.

Hundred-year-old restaurants including Quanjude, Bianyifang and Donglaishun are renowned for their unique and delicious roast duck and boiled meat. And complementing such classic dishes are a range of Beijing snacks, such as Aiwowo (Steamed Cone Cakes), Lüdagun (Glutinous Rice Rolls) and Wandouhuang (Pea-Flour Cakes).

Through its traditions, Beijing is nonetheless a modern and fashionable metropolis. Since the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and following the launch of integrated development between the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei regions, the city has continued to implement innovative measures aimed at creating a liveable, sustainable and innovative capital. Zhongguancun Science Park, Beijing Financial Street, Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area, Beijing Central Business District, Beijing Airport Economic Core Zone and Beijing Olympic Park are all international, innovative and entrepreneurial centres, which is just one reason why the city is now home to the headquarters of 58 of the world's top 500 corporations.

Beijing also enjoys an advanced and convenient transportation system, and its subway, with a total travel distance of 527 km, is now the largest in the world. The city's major shopping streets are at Wangfujing, Xidan, Guomao, Qianmen Street, Wanda Plaza and the Place. Its most famous bar and dining streets are mainly located in Houhai, Gongti (Beijing Workers' Sports Complex), Solana Lifestyle Shopping Park and Sanlitun.

Beijing also focuses on technological and cultural innovation, and the Cultural & Creative Industry has become the city's second pillar industry. 91 institutions of higher learning, including Peking, Tsinghua, and Renmin universities commit themselves to fostering talented professionals and first-class disciplines. The city is also home to over 170 registered museums.

Each year, the city's world-leading art troupes give more than 20,000 performances, attracting a collective audience of over 10 million people. Major venues include the National Centre for Performing Arts, the Chang'an Grand Theater and the Beijing Tianqiao Center for Performing Arts. For resplendent culture in the open air, visitors can take a tour of Jingshan Park, Beihai Park or Olympic Forest Park.

Thus Beijing is a dynamic and inclusive city, hosting a wide range of international cultural activities, sporting events, industrial conferences and exhibitions. Famous events include the China Beijing International Cultural & Creative Industry Expo (ICCIE), the China Beijing International High-Tech Expo (CHITEC), the China Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), Beijing International Film Festival, Photo Beijing, Beijing Design Week, Beijing Music Festival, Beijing Marathon and the Tour of Beijing. What's more, the city is currently preparing for the International Horticultural Exhibition in 2019 and the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Beijingers are friendly and hospitable, and the city's many festivals are replete with distinctive local features. Over the Dragon Boat Festival, Beijingers make zongzi (traditional rice pudding), and watch or take part in the dragon boat races. During Mid-Autumn Festival, they enjoy the full moon together with their families. Over Chongyang or Double Ninth Festival, many head into the mountains that surround the city. During Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), the most important festival in China, the city hosts a range of colourful activities, including a fabulous selection of temple fairs at places such as Titan Park, Yuyuantan Park, and Changdian Temple. The Shijingshan Foreign-styled Temple Fair, the Longqing Ice Lantern Festival, and the Beijing Chaoyang International Spring Carnival are also brimming with a vibrant, festive atmosphere.

China Daily


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