I love BJ, HK or Shanghai?

On July 20, 2011, in Beijing, Cool Places, Shanghai, by Jack Li

So you want to visit China? And you’re short on time or budget? Or maybe instead of rushing to visit all China’s highlights you prefer to explore one place in depth? You don’t have to be reminded what China has to offer – what you’re looking for is the essence of all that. Before you […]

So you want to visit China? And you’re short on time or budget? Or maybe instead of rushing to visit all China’s highlights you prefer to explore one place in depth? You don’t have to be reminded what China has to offer – what you’re looking for is the essence of all that. Before you book a flight with China Flights and find accommodation with China Hotels, take a look at the 3 biggest metropolises in the country and decide where you could make the most of your China experience.

A few facts

Beijing: There are no words to describe Beijing shortly. It is a political, cultural and education capital of China; it’s been called ‘one of the greatest cities in the world’. It has long and fascinating history and is extremely diverse – ‘old Beijing’ mixes with modernity on every step!

Shanghai: With over 19m citizens, one million more than Beijing, Shanghai is China’s most populous city. It is very modern and international; you will find many clubs and bars here if you’re after nightlife. Beware of the hot and humid climate!

Hong Kong: It’s one of the two special autonomous regions in China. Situated in the Pearl River Delta at South China Sea, it’s one of the most important Chinese seaports. A truly international metropolis, HK is home to the best universities in the country. Moreover, it’s one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Culture

If you are interested in Chinese history and culture, Beijing is the place to go! It’s rich in cultural attractions, e.g. The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, hutongs and many more. The city follows Chinese way and rhythm of life. However, don’t be put off by Shanghai or HK – even though they don’t have much to offer, you can go outside the city (Suzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi from Shanghai and Guangzhou from HK) and admire the sites without the bustle.

Financial Hub

With headquarters of all banks, Beijing is not only a political, but also a financial capital of the country. It is because all of the banks set up their headquarters here, due to the proximity of government institutions, essential in the corporate culture based on guanxi. Beijing has definitely more of a Chinese flavour and it is said to be more welcoming to foreigners.

Often regarded as China’s leading financial centre, Shanghai has 4 financial exchange centres. Business runs on a basis similar to the West, which is why Shanghai is preferred by many foreigners. Most of the domestic and international banks follow dual headquarters strategy, setting up offices in both Beijing and Shanghai, however there is an increasing level of authority being shifted to Shanghai.

Seen as New York of China, Hong Kong was ranked in top 5 world’s financial centres in 2009. It is a bigger, less regulated, market, where companies are considered to operate at better quality. Because of a greater degree of free market, HK is still ahead of both Shanghai and Beijing in eyes of many businessmen.

Where to go, then?

HK, BJ and Shanghai compliment themselves, creating what’s recently become world’s second largest economy. Which city to chose will depend on your personal preferences – if you put culture and rich history in the first place, Beijing is an obvious choice. However, if you are after the bustle of an Asian megacity – seemingly similar to the West, but with its distinct Chinese touch – consider going to Hong Kong or Shanghai. Did you make up your mind? Visit China Travel and get started!

 

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China on a reel

On July 19, 2011, in Cultural Experience, Featured China Stories, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

What connects a regular movie goer, an enthusiast of Chinese culture and a traveller? They all can find their passion in Chinese cinema. The long thriving Chinese film industry is not only a source of magical and thought-provoking productions, but it also enables a viewer to ‘travel’ through China, its history and legends. If you […]

What connects a regular movie goer, an enthusiast of Chinese culture and a traveller? They all can find their passion in Chinese cinema. The long thriving Chinese film industry is not only a source of magical and thought-provoking productions, but it also enables a viewer to ‘travel’ through China, its history and legends. If you still haven’t booked your tour with China Tours – but also if you already know at which  Beijing Hotel you’re staying – immerse yourself in the world of Chinese cinema and explore more about China and its culture!

 

With movies of all genres, everyone will find something of personal interest in Chinese cinema. First of all, let me introduce you to the so-called Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers. 1980s and 1990s marked the beginning of the popularisation of Chinese productions (mainly Beijing-based) among international viewers. The most renowned titles of that era include ‘Raise the Red Lanterns’ (1991), ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’ (1992) and ‘Shanghai Triad’ (1995) by Zhang Yimou, as well as ‘Farewell My Concubine’ (1993) by Chen Kaige. ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’ and ‘Farewell My Concubine’ were awarded the Golden Lion and the Golden Palm respectively. The most prominent actress of that era was Gong Li, becoming one of the most recognizable Chinese in the West.

 

Since mid-1990s a new Sixth Generation took the lead in Chinese cinema. In contrast with diverse style and interests of the previous generation, movies made since the beginning of that era till present are more focused on issues concerning Chinese society. A new genre called wuxia, depicting the adventures of martial artists, was derived from literature.  Production of that era have been widely promoted in the West, with such titles as Ang Lee’s ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2000, coproduction); Zhang Yimou’s ‘Not One Less’ (1999), ‘Hero’ (2002), ‘The House of Flying Daggers’ (2004) and ‘Curse of the Golden Flower’ (2006); Chen Kaige’s  ‘The Emperor and The Assassin’ (1998), ‘Together’ (2002) and ‘The Promise’ (2005); Feng Xiaogang’s ‘The Banquet’ (2006) and Zhang Yuan’s ‘Beijing Bastards’ (1993) – one of the first independent Chinese films. Sixth generation produced such actors of international fame as Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi.

Along with Beijing, Hong Kong is the main Chinese filmmaking hub. The name of the director Wong Kar-wai is familiar to every passionate film-goer in the world. The popularisation of Hong Kong cinema in 1980s and 1990s is attributed to kung-fu films starring Jet Li and world-famous Jackie Chan movies. Cantonese productions differ significantly from Mandarin ones in terms of style and topics. Balancing on the edges of the mainstream, they are more provocative, mysterious and violent. The must-see HK movies include Jackie Chan’s ‘Drunken Master’ (1978); John Woo’s ‘A Better Tomorrow’ (1986); Wong Kar-wai’s ‘Days of Being Wild’ (1990), ‘Chungking Express’ (1994) and ‘2046’ (2004). The biggest starts of his movies are Maggie Cheung, Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai.

I highly recommend you to watch at least a few of these movies. And once you’ve seen Beijing, Shanghai and Canton in the films, turn to China Travel for travel advice and tours.

 

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