What? Beijing is the most beautiful city in China?

September 17, 2007 - by Robin Teow

According to a study conducted by China Institute of City Competitiveness, the capital city was voted as China's most beautiful city. Hong Kong SAR on the other hand was chosen as the safest and second most beautiful. Beijing came in ahead of 558 other mainland cities and the two SARs, with a score of 0.756 points out of one for its impressive historical monuments and tourist attractions. The study took into account the cities' urban design, infrastructure, architecture, culture and natural beauty. Other factors such as preservation of historical monuments, air quality, the transportation network, city life, public space and GDP also formed part of the assessment. You may find the relevant China Daily article here.

Fellow blogger Wangbo was not impressed though. In an article entitled "Make Sure You're Sitting Down", he had this to say:

"Alright, now that you've finished laughing.

I've even heard people call Tianjin "beautiful" (all Tianjinren of course), but I have never heard anybody describe Beijing as beautiful...well, maybe some of my students from Beijing have said something along those lines, as well as those from outside Beijing who say things like "I like Beijing because it's the capital of China" and other non-sensical rubbish. Anyway: Beijing the most beautiful city in China? You'd have to be on a serious mixture of various hugely powerful hallucinogens to think such a thing. I mean: Dalian, Qingdao, Xiamen, Guilin... Shit, even Changsha is more beautiful than Beijing. And Taiyuan would be if it weren't for the pollution."

I tend to agree with him. Beijing may be the capital of China and may boast one of the world's new seven wonders, some of the most sophisticated and innovative architecture and infrastructure and some of the most remarkable historical monuments and cultural relics in China, but to say that it is the most beautiful city is still a bit too far-fetched in my personal opinion.

Pollution is especially bad in the city. Beijing's coal-burning factories, power plants and vehicles regularly spew enough fumes to shroud the city in a brown, pungent haze. Residents have grown used to the soot that coats their clothes. Some even wear surgical masks when walking outdoors to guard against the filth. The situation has become more dire as the city is feverishly refurbished for next year's Summer Olympics.

On a normal day, Beijing's pollution is so bad it exceeds the safety benchmark set by the World Health Organization by nearly five times.

The result might come as a surprise to many visitors to China, home to clean and leafy cities such as Qingdao and Hangzhou in the east and the picturesque walled ancient capital of Xi'an in the north.

To me, air quality and beauty go hand in hand. Well...you may disagree with me.

3 Comment

  • 1. ryan  |  September 17, 2007, 5:49 pm

    Beijing is not beautiful.

  • 2. Anna Lei  |  September 18, 2007, 9:23 am

    What a city looks like can be really called a beautiful city? Maybe there are many different criteria about a city's beauty for everyone, which result in different answers. This could account for why so many people have different arguments on the result that Beijing was ranked first as the most beautiful city in China due to its rich history and culture in a latest study by the China Institute of City Competitiveness.

    In my personal opinion, it seems not to be appropriate that in the study the word "beauty", at seeing the word a beautiful view and clean environment with clear air and without congested traffic would come to our mind at once, is strangely connected to historical monuments and tourist attractions in a city. If a city has a rich history and culture, it can be praised in another word instead of beauty.

    I have been very annoyed with worse and worse traffic in Beijing as I always spend more than one and a half hours on the way to office, even almost four hours due to heavy pour one time. So as for life quality in Beijing, I am afraid it is difficult for me to say Beijing is the most beautiful city in China.

  • 3.Aristy  |  September 19, 2007, 11:57 am

    I think maybe bj is beautiful, but as the2008 Olympic Games is coming, but i still think we have enough things to do in the coming yeare,as a typical bjness,i wanna do much things for it. We will show a new fashion visage to the world, and welcome people from all over the world.

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