Far East

Map of China

The sheer diversity of China’s terrain takes you from noisy cities fizzing with energy to isolated mountain-top Ming-Dynasty villages where you can hear a pin drop. Pǔdōng’s ambitious skyline is a triumphant statement, but it couldn’t be further from the worldly renunciation acted out in Tibet’s distant monasteries.”

Overview
China is one of the world's fastest growing economies in terms of nominal GDP growth, and is the fastest-growing major economy. It has the world's third largest GDP in nominal terms or second largest in purchasing power, and consumes as much as a third of the world's steel and over half of its concrete. The PRC is also the world's second largest exporter and the third largest importer. Since the introduction of market-based economic reforms in 1978, the poverty rate in the PRC has decreased from 53% in 1981 to 8% in 2001.

SHANGHAI
Shanghai lies to the Mid-East coast of China, half way between Hong Kong and Beijing and a two hour flight from either. Massive and fast paced development over the past 20 years has turned it into a dynamic, international city and it very much has a 'can do will do' attitude that marks it out from the rest of China. Closely sited next to the major cities of Nanjing, Suzhou, Ningbo, and strategically next to the manufacturing areas of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui Provinces, Shanghai is often the obvious first choice for many international businessmen to visit to 'get the feel' for what's going on here. Shanghai is developing fast and while still a bit away from the internationalization of Hong Kong, is catching up fast.

Shanghai is the most populous city in China and one of the largest urban areas in the world, with over 20 million people in its extended metropolitan area. Located on China's central eastern coast at the mouth of the Yangtze River, the city is administered as a municipality of the People's Republic of China with province-level status.

Climate (Shanghai)

Weather averages for Shanghai

Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Avg high
°C (°F)

8
(46)

8
(46)

13
(55)

19
(66)

25
(77)

28
(82)

32
(90)

32
(90)

28
(82)

23
(73)

17
(63)

17
(63)

Avg low
°C (°F)

1
(34)

1
(34)

4
(39)

10
(50)

15
(59)

19
(66)

23
(73)

23
(73)

19
(66)

14
(57)

7
(45)

2
(36)

Rain
mm (inches)

48
(1.89)

58
(2.28)

84
(3.31)

94
(3.7)

94
(3.7)

180
(7.09)

147
(5.79)

142
(5.59)

130
(5.12)

71
(2.8)

51
(2.01)

36
(1.42)

Source: BBC 2008

Transport (Shanghai)
Shanghai has an extensive public transport system, largely based on buses, trolleybuses, taxis, and a rapidly expanding metro system.

The city also has the world's most extensive bus system with nearly one thousand bus lines, operated by numerous transportation companies.

Culture
Because of Shanghai's status as the cultural and economic center of East Asia for the first half of the twentieth century, it is popularly seen as the birthplace of everything considered modern in China.

Architecture
Shanghai has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles. The Bund, located by the bank of the Huangpu River, contains a rich collection of early 20th century architecture, ranging in style from neo-classical HSBC Building to the art deco Sassoon House. A number of areas in the former foreign concessions are also well preserved, and despite rampant redevelopment, the old city still retains some buildings of a traditional style, including Yuyuan Garden, a traditional garden in the Jiangnan style.

In recent years, a large number of architecturally distinctive, even eccentric, skyscrapers have sprung up throughout Shanghai. Notable examples of contemporary architecture include the Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Grand Theatre in the People's Square precinct

BEIJING
Beijing (also formerly known in English as Peking) is a metropolis in northern China and the capital of the People's Republic of China.

Beijing is China's second largest city, after Shanghai. Beijing is a major transportation hub, with dozens of railways, roads and motorways passing through the city. It is also the focal point of many international flights to China. Beijing is recognised as the political, educational, and cultural center of the People's Republic of China.

Weather averages for Beijing

Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Avg high
°C (°F)

1
(33)

3
(38)

11
(52)

19
(67)

25
(78)

29
(85)

30
(86)

29
(85)

25
(78)

18
(66)

9
(49)

2
(37)

17
(63)

Avg low
°C (°F)

-8
(17)

-5
(22)

0
(33)

8
(47)

13
(57)

18
(66)

22
(72)

20
(69)

15
(59)

8
(47)

0
(32)

-5
(22)

7
(45)

Rain
cm (inches)

0
(0.2)

0
(0.2)

0
(0.3)

1
(0.7)

3
(1.3)

7
(3.1)

22
(8.8)

17
(6.7)

5
(2.3)

1
(0.7)

1
(0.4)

0
(0.1)

63.7
(25.1)

Source: Weatherbase Feb 2007

Transport
With the growth of the city following economic reforms, Beijing has evolved as the most important transportation hub in the People's Republic of China, and within the larger East Asian region. Encircling the city are five ring roads, nine expressways and city express routes, eleven China National Highways, several railway routes, and an international airport.

Culture
People native to urban Beijing speak the Beijing dialect, which belongs to the Mandarin subdivision of spoken Chinese. Beijing dialect is the basis for Standard Mandarin, the language used in mainland China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Rural areas of Beijing Municipality have their own dialects akin to those of Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing Municipality.

Younger residents of Beijing have become more attracted to the nightlife, which has flourished in recent decade, breaking prior cultural traditions that practically restricted it to the upper class.

Architecture

Three styles of architecture predominate in urban Beijing. First, the traditional architecture of imperial China, perhaps best exemplified by the massive Tian'anmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace), which remains the People's Republic of China's trademark edifice, the Forbidden City, the Imperial Ancestral Temple and the Temple of Heaven. Beijing of the early 21st century has witness tremendous growth of new building constructions, showing various modern styles from international designers. A mixture of both old and new styles of architecture can be seen at the 798 Art Zone, which mixes 1950s design with a blend of the new.

Economy
Beijing is amongst the most developed cities in China with tertiary industry accounting for 71.3% of its GDP, making it the first post industrial city in mainland China. Financial industry is one of the most important industries of Beijing.