Beijing's changing skyline (from a distance)

March 9, 2007 - by Ryan

Having just returned to Beijing after a two and a half year absence, I was keen to see how the city had changed. I recall in the past leaving for periods barely exceeding three months, then returning to find that my favorite restaurant, hairdresser, convenience store, and watering hole (which were probably all adjoining each other) had been torn down to make way for a new government building or six lane highway. When I left, the Chaoyang "CBD" area was the sum of about four buildings, and I thought the title was a touch over-ambitious.

The changes struck me as soon as I hit the Beijing airport tarmac. I recalled the current airport terminal just being finished, but outside the airplane window I could see an almost-finished and absolutely gigantic new terminal with what looked like a high speed rail system shooting out the end. It looked fantastic, and rammed home to me the city's speed of change, as well as my length of absence.

Once into the city perimeter, although there was a lot of development and new buildings, nothing really had seemed to change - until I got a glimpse of the new CBD skyline. It is a genuinely cool skyline, and I hope the area does transform into what some have dubbed the "Oriental Manhattan".

In the CBD, even at this early stage, there is a fusion of differing styles and eras, and it keeps reminding me of Hong Kong. Of course the two cannot be compared, but if in 2004 someone told me that Beijing would possess even a mere hint of Hong Kong's perfect eclecticism, I would have considered them ignorant dreamers.

Anyway, to put in bluntly, when I see Beijing's CBD I'm often reminded of Hong Kong. If you disagree, feel free to let me know.

Although a bit out of date, I liked the following article from CCTV on the topic:

I agree with some of the concerns raised in the above article, and will provide my views on it next week.

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