Six Chinese Cities You Should Not Miss

THERE are around 700 cities in China. With unique features, each of these cities is a window for foreign visitors to learn in depth about China. Six places are cited here to show the charm of Chinese cities.

Beijing: A Modern City with Imperial Past

Beijing, the capital of China, is a metropolitan city with a blend of old and modern, serving as China’s political, economic, cultural and educational centre. And now it is also known as the world’s first “dual-Olympic city,” after it hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics and the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Beijing houses a large number of tourist sites, where you can explore its glorious history. The Forbidden City used to be the residence of the Chinese emperors and the royal families and also the seat of Chinese central government and now visitors can see paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, and antiquities of the imperial collections. The Great Wall, extending for over 20,000 kilometers, is one of the greatest military defence projects in China and Chairman Mao Zedong once commented “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man.” And the Summer Palace is the best-preserved imperial garden in the world. It is joyful to take a dragon boat on the lake to appreciate a charming artificial landscape there.

Talents also gather in Beijing, as many elite universities are based here such as Peking University and Tsinghua University. And if you are a food lover, Beijing roast duck will certainly gratify your taste buds. The dish is the epitome of Beijing cuisine and mostly prized for the thin but crispy skin. One cannot leave Beijing without trying this well-known food!

Shanghai: A Leading Financial Hub

Originally a small fishing village located on the southern estuary of the Yangtze River, Shanghai is now China’s largest city and one of the world’s leading financial hubs. The city’s GDP stood at 2.028 billion yuan in 1949, while in 2021 it was 4.32 trillion yuan with the GDP per capita climbing to US$26.9 thousand, which exceeds the level of a high-income country according to the World Bank’s standard.

In Shanghai, you must have a walk in the Bund, as it testifies the prosperity of this international metropolis in the past decades. As early as in the 1860s, many of the major financial institutions from China and abroad have been attracted to be headquartered here. Today, along the Bund you can see buildings with both Chinese and Western architecture styles, and thus it is globally renowned as the contemporary world expo of architecture.

Shanghai became Windhoek’s sister city in 1995 and over the years, the two cities have enhanced mutual understanding and bilateral cooperation. President Hage Geingob’s visit to Shanghai in 2018 promoted the mutual visits and people-to-people exchanges between the two cities

Shenzhen: A Story of Spring

Shenzhen best demonstrates how China benefits from the epic reform and opening-up drive. In 1980, Shenzhen established China’s first special economic zone, being granted with greater autonomy in the reform of important areas and key links such as carrying out market-based economic reform, improving market and legal environments for global businesses. 40 years later, Shenzhen has miraculously grown from a fishing village to an international metropolis. It now ranks fourth among Asian cities in terms of GDP, which expanded to over 3 trillion yuan in 2021, much higher than the 270 million yuan in 1978.

A national innovation centre and hi-tech base, Shenzhen is home to a large number of successful and well-known hi-tech enterprises such as Huawei and Tencent. These enterprises have gone global. The key to the success of its hi-tech enterprises lies in Shenzhen’s passion for innovation and R&D. The number of Patent Cooperation Treaty applications of Shenzhen has ranked top in China for 18 consecutive years.

Shenzhen showed great courage in pursuing reform, and its bold attempts proved successful. In the new era, Shenzhen is now striving to build itself into a pilot demonstration area of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Xi’an: The Capital for 13 Dynasties

Xi’an is the capital city of northwest China’s Shaanxi province and one of the birthplaces of the Chinese nation and oriental civilisation. It has a history of more than 3,100 years as a city and serves as the capital of 13 dynasties for more than 1,100 years.

Back in 221 BC, Xi’an, known as Xianyang, was designated as the capital of the Qin Empire, the first dynasty of China. Qinshihuang, the first Chinese emperor, ordered the construction of his mausoleum, including the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses pits. There are altogether 7,000 to 8,000 warriors and horses, a large collection of sculptures matchless in the world. The Mausoleum was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

The city continued to be Chinese capital in the Tang dynasty (618-907) and was renamed Chang’an. Economic activities and international interactions were flourishing there, as Chang’an was the starting point of the Silk Road – the origin of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The old Silk Road connected China and Europe and promoted businesses and friendship, and the BRI carries on this spirit.

Urumqi: Geographical Center of Asia

Urumqi is the capital city of Xinjiang, located in the northwest of China. It is the remotest city from any sea in the world. If you are interested in geography, you should visit a tourist site – Geographical Centre of Asia. It was built featuring a huge circle of concrete blocks representing all of the nearly 50 countries of the region.

Urumqi had a population of about 4.07 million in 2021, increasing by 500 000 compared with 2019 and covering over 50 ethnic groups of China, and people believing in Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Roman Catholicism or other religious beliefs are fully respected. Last year Urumqi’s GDP totaled around 369 billion yuan, with the per capita disposable income standing at 46142 yuan. It is fair to say that Urumqi and other cities in Xinjiang has enjoyed sustained economic growth, social harmony and stability, better living standards, cultures thriving like never before, and freedom of religious beliefs and religious harmony.

To feel the diversity and vitality of Urumqi, you are strongly recommended to stroll around the Grand Bazaar, visit the mosque, or hear the story of the girls from Dabancheng. After these visits, you will surely find out what is different from the depiction of the West.

Hong Kong: An Oriental Pearl

Hong Kong was occupied by Britain after the Opium War in 1840, and China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. Safeguarded by “one country, two systems,” Hong Kong is now at a critical stage of moving from chaos to stability and then to greater prosperity.

Dubbed as one of the “Four Asian Tigers,” Hong Kong boasts a highly developed economy, which is characterised by free trade, low taxation and minimum government intervention. It is the 6th largest trading economy in the world. Hong Kong is also a major service economy, with particularly strong links to the Chinese mainland and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.

Hong Kong is a city where east meets west. Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan are internationally well-known martial artists from Hong Kong. Canto pop and Chinese opera are thriving here. Besides, Broadway musicals and acclaimed international dance troupes, orchestras and art fairs can also be enjoyed here.

The above six cities are typical examples that reflect Chinese politics, economy and culture, but more is to be discovered in other cities. Namibian friends are most welcome to visit and see a real China so that the mutual understanding of the two countries and peoples can be further enhanced.