If you ever want to experience a place where the traditions of over 5,000 years meet the technology of tomorrow, a place where 20,000+ people are constantly striving to create a better life for the next generation or a place where a new form of government mixed between communism and capitalism is in its adolescence… spend some time in Beijing. Upon arrival, we learned that the People’s Congress was in session and security across the city was very tight. Tiananmen Square, the biggest public square in the world, was closed during the evening, which made it seem even more grandiose without the usual throng of people. Since the Olympics, and since I lived here only a short 9 months ago, the city has already changed. There are more modern buildings, more boulevards, four more subway lines and all the historical monuments have been restored and cleaned. The speed and scale at which the Chinese can transform a plan into a reality is amazing.
Beijing is the center of government in China and if you want to do business in China, you have to have a government contact. We met with two Director Generals from China Banking Regulatory Commission, Department of Banking Supervision for Foreign Banks to discuss the history of banking in China, particularly since 1979 and how foreign banks and businesses go about investing or offering credit in China. It was a very valuable lecture, especially for those students who will specialize in Finance.
Unfortunately, Spring is the sand storm season in Beijing and the dust mixed with pollution was everywhere. Many students came down with a cold, including yours truly. Even worse, 10 people got food poisoning from the airline food on the way from Seoul to Beijing and I accompanied some of them to the Chinese International Hospital which is always a unique experience. It is pure chaos but somehow you are able to find the doctor, get the needed test and go home with medicine that works. Thankfully, everyone is almost back to normal now!
As for sightseeing, my classmate Jefferson and I arranged for a tour of Gugong (Forbidden City), Houhai Hutong (traditional Beijing neighborhoods around Houhai Lake) and Hotpot lunch… YUM! We also saw the Olympic Village, Temple of Heaven and Llama Temple. When eating food, the favorite is always Beijing Kaoya (roast duck) and Wanfujing Street Food (an assortment of food on a stick ranging from lamb to scorpion and seahorse.)
One of my classmates mentioned that Beijing is a city of incredible momentum. I would definitely have to agree. There is always a purpose here. People are always doing something to improve their situation as a community and individual. Whether for business, politics or culture, Beijing is definitely a place to get acquainted with and to keep a look out for in the future.
He Siyu (Casey)