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Foodie Cities in China      

Foodie Cities in China
Chengdu As the capital of Sichuan Province, you would be well acquainted with the name, Sichuan where spiciness is synonymous with its signature dishes. A very popular Chinese culinary style, Sichuan food is not for the weak-hearted as the level of hotness might potentially numb your tongue and swell up your lips. Classic dishes are the Sichuan hotpot, kungpao chicken and mapo tofu. Be prepared with liters of water at your side if you don't usually consume spicy food.
Xi'an Located in the Shaanxi province, food here is a fascinating mixture of Chinese and Muslim. It has exotic meat platters that consist of camel and donkey. With one of the most bustling night markets in China, Lanzhou provides foodies with hand-pulled beef noodles that are soft and chewy. Vegetarians must try the Jiangshui noodles, a cabbage filled soup that has to be fermented for three days which eventually produce its tangy taste. The mutton and bread soup is also a specialty of Xi'an, a simple but delectable meal.
Turpan Another place that holds Muslim and Chinese cuisine together, Turpan is located in Xinjiang, northwestern part of the Silk Route. This town has the best Uyghur food and they have numerous halal restaurants. With slight similarities to Indian food, they serve lamb kawop and crispy rounded nang breads - large flatbreads -that can be dipped with banshi, a local dish. Banshi is basically mutton wontons served in light tomato broth with black-eyed beans and cilantro. Don't let the exotic names scare you; they might sound foreign but you will not regret trying out their local delicacies.
Qing'dao Located in Eastern China, Qing'dao is famous for its Tsingtao beer and crowded beaches. This city also serves one of the best seafood dishes in China. Accompanied by the local brew, local shrimps, clams, sea cucumbers, crabs and crayfish make up the seafood platter in this sunny place. The catch of the day can be chosen from tanks and customers can request for any method of cooking they prefer. One of its famed delicacy would be the steamed Hongdao oysters from Hongdao island. Steamed with ginger and vinegar, the freshness of the oysters can be tasted through the bland style of cooking – which essentially is the signature cooking style of the seafood dishes here.

  
China's First Trans-provincial Subway Opens      

China’s First Trans-provincial Subway Opens
China has been expanding since the turn of the century. With newfound zest and economic policies, this emerging superpower has been solidifying its economy and urban development to compete with global markets. The latest development of China would be the opening of its very first trans-provincial subway line. This line links the country’s financial center of Shanghai with Kunshan City in neighboring Jiangsu Province.
At six-kilometer, this subway line is an extension of Shanghai Metro Line 11 and cost 1.85 billion yuan (approximately 294 million US$) to build. The extension features three elevated stations – Zhaofeng Road Station, Guangming Road Station and Huaqiao Station in Kunshan. The Huaqiao Station in Kunshan is a popular stop as most commuters transit daily from Kunshan to Shanghai for work. The new extension will cost commuters 7 yuan for a one hour journey, effectively saving around 20 yuan off their traveling cost. With this extension, Shanghai’s Metro Line 11 is now the longest subway line at 72 kilometers.
Situated 50km away from Shanghai, Kunshan is a satellite city in the Suzhou region. Its immigrant population is larger than its local population while boasting a solid economy. It has been presented with the prestigious award from United Nations for its innovative approach to granting migrants the rights to essential services in the city. Its export-oriented economies has propelled the city to become one of China’s most economically successful city while attracting more and more businessmen especially from Taiwan. The newly opened subway from Kunshan to Shanghai will definitely aid in business relationships between the two cities; allowing lower cost in travelling and easier commuting for businessmen and entrepreneurs.

  
China Increases Effort to Protect Her Heritage      

China Increases Effort to Protect Her Heritage
China has announced that steps would be taken to increase the preservation of ancient villages as they face a crisis of decline, decay and even utter desolation. A historical country, it is home to at least 12,000 traditional villages. Most of them have existed since before the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and a quarter of them were created before the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) according to the Director of the Rural Township Construction Department under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Rural Development.
A country-wide census has been conducted in 2012 and the survey returned with the results of more than 2,000 key cultural sites and over 3,000 provincial-level heritage sites which need preservation. China has been undergoing rapid urbanization and modernization in the past thirty years and this has inevitably challenged the ‘old’ culture. Without proper care, China is at risk of losing its past heritage and cultural identity with villages vanishing due to migrational patterns into cities for better job prospects.
Plans to protect and redevelop these traditional villages have began with significant emphasis on settlements in Southwest China’s Yunnan province, Guizhou province and in Eastern China’s Zhejiand and Fujian provinces. Authorities will continue to catalogue and designate plans for villages in dire need of preservation especially those with significant cultural value to the Chinese cultural identity. This long-term preservation plan will receive a substantial financial support from the government. President Xi Jinping has commented that ancient communities must be safeguarded. He condemned widespread demolition and new construction as inharmonious and an incorrect ideal to building up this beautiful country. Therefore, securing these traditional locations are of vital priority as the lightning-pace expansion of China threatens to demolish the ancient identity of this country.

  
Traditional Chinese Instruments      

A Brief Glimpse into Traditional Chinese Instruments
Traditional Chinese instruments are alluring and exotic in the musical world. Consisting mainly of stringed variations, they provide an interesting contrast to Western musical instruments from the way they are built to the sounds they produce.
In 2001, a 12 Girls Band were formed in China after auditions were conducted from a selection of 4,000 contestants. 12 girls were picked to complement the Chinese mythology of 12 hairpins which represent womanhood. Inspired by the art of Yue Fang, ensembles who played in Tang Dynasty courts, these classically trained musicians performed both classical and contemporary compositions. Their debut album which was released in 2004 covered versions of Coldplay's “Clocks and Enya's “Only Time”.
Exposing Chinese traditional instruments to the world, these 12 girls performed using guzheng (zither), yangqin (hammered dulcimer), dizi (flute) and xiao (vertical flute). Duxiangqin (single-stringed zither) and hulusi (three-piped gourd flute) sometimes make appearances. With their innovative variations to modern songs using classical instruments, the world is able to get acquainted with these Chinese instruments which were once played in teahouses and public gatherings during classical China. Only noble families and families with stature could afford to pay for these musicians.
These instruments are categorized into silk, bamboo, wood, stone, metal, clay, gourd and hide. Each category has similar instruments with same features. For example, silk instruments are mostly string instruments that are plucked, bowed or struck. Silk was initially used for the strings; hence the category “silk” but today, metal and nylon strings are more frequently used. Bamboo refers to woodwind instruments, stone contains various forms of stone chimes while gourd imitates the sound of a phoenix by being a mouth piece that is made out of hollowed-out plants. Clay is the ocarina with six holes for the finger tips while metal includes bells, cymbals and gongs.
It is interesting to study the varieties of Chinese musical instruments and the ideology behind them. Closely connected to nature, the materials used to make them are organic and even the composition of classical songs are well acquainted with the Chinese beliefs in mother nature.

  
The top 5 affluent cities in China      

The top 5 affluent cities in China
When Westerners picture China's richest areas, they tend to think of the larger cities: Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen. These metropolises are certainly where the bulk of the nation's consumers live. But, while it is true that these cities are home to China's rising middle classes, as well and the largest concentration of its super rich, there are many other factors which demonstrate the extent of Chinese affluence.
When the China County Economic Research Bureau released a relative affluence map in 2010, what surprised observers the most was the fact that many of the names on the list were completely unknown to most foreigners, with neither Beijing nor Shanghai featuring in the top 5.
1. Kelamayi, Xinjiang Named after the Uyghur language word meaning ‘black oil', this city of 450,000 people lies close to large pockets of oil and natural gas reserves, including one of the largest oil reserves ever discovered in China, in 1955. Since then the city has blossomed into a key oil-producing and refining centre. In 2008 the GDP of Kelamayi reached ¥66.1 billion. The city also produces natural stones, like Jade.
2. Dongguan, Guangdong A teeming industrial city at the heart of a region of 25 million inhabitants, Dongguan lies on the Pearl River Delta. It is home to the world's largest shopping mall, New South China Mail. Within Dongguan itself there are approximately 6.94 million people. The city is a manufacturing hub and is also widely-renowned for its sex industry.
3. Suzhou, Jiangsu Suzhou is located in the south-east of Jiangsu province, in eastern China, on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Founded in the 6th century, the city boasts over 2,500 years of diverse history, with relics of the past remaining in abundance. There are numerous canals, stone bridges and pagodas, as well as beautifully landscaped gardens. This has all contributed to making the city both an important economic hub and one of China's key tourist destinations.
4. Foshan, Guangdong Foshan is a city of around 3.6 million inhabitants in the Guangdong province of southern China. The city comprises migrants drawn to the area from outlying Chinese provinces, speaking mostly Mandarin, and natives who speak a Foshan variant of Cantonese. Foshan was once a hub for the porcelain industry; it is now home to many large private enterprises. Its main claim to fame is its predilection for the martial arts.
5. Wuxi, Jiangsu Wuxi is a venerable ancient city in Jiangsu province on China's east coast. The city itself is split into two portions by Lake Tai, the northern half looking across the Yangtze River, while the southern half faces Zhejiang. Wuxi has a long history of commercial involvement, particularly trading with modern Shanghai. A regional transportation hub, Wuxi is also famous for its fertile farmlands, and is one of the 15 great economic hubs of China.

  
The strength of Chinese currency      

The strength of Chinese currency
While the Chinese Yuan was expected to depreciate after a period of uncertainty towards the end of 2012, there is every sign that the currency is stabilising, putting investment back on the mind of speculators the world over. In fact, the Yuan recently hit its highest levels since the start of its revaluation process in 2005, reversing last year's downwards trend.
Graphs indicating the performance of the currency in terms of its market price, related to the daily fixing rate by the People's Bank of China, demonstrated the verve with which the Chinese Yuan is performing compared to the ubiquitous US dollar.
One significant aspect of the resurgence of the Yuan is the fact the weakening trend of the currency against the dollar, as determined by the People's Bank's own fixing, had remained unchanged. The effect of this had been to open a large gap between the market and the People's Bank fixing. Current figures demonstrate that this has been totally reversed.
Western economies have viewed much of the People's Bank's monetary activities with trepidation, particularly when it has appeared that the Chinese financiers appear to eschew conventional tools, such as the manipulation of interest rates and reserve requirement ratio. Yet the People's Bank have been willing to allow the Yuan to drift far higher – while all the time wishing the trend would be steered in the other direction. This type of financial speculation has been the key to the People's Bank's robust position in the first place. The bank expanded rapidly because its balance sheet was allowed to swell as money was created, preventing the Yuan from appreciating any quicker than it did. This process was halted due to the fiscal phenomenon of persistence money overflow.
The strength of the Yuan may well indicate that the money flow has reversed, with the trend coinciding with the worldwide risk-on sentiment. Concerns about the effect of quantitate easing on the dollar have undoubtedly helped drive the international markets' current appreciation of Chinese Yuan.

  
The rise of China's entrepreneurs      

The rise of China's entrepreneurs
China's admittance to the prestigious World Trade Organisation is a milestone in terms of the growth of its economy. In many ways, this is the culmination of the so-called ‘open door policy' launched by the reformist leader of the Chinese Communist Party, the late Deng Xiaoping, back in 1978. After many years in economic isolation in the global sense, China had begun a remorseless journey towards the situation it now finds itself in: at the forefront of the world's trading superpowers.
What this newfound status has meant is that the stage is now set for China to produce an ever-expanding list of entrepreneurs; a band of vibrant, high-achieving Chinese individuals, fuelled with the drive to make the most of the vast economic potential of this nation. In fact, over the previous two decades millions of such entrepreneurs have emerged in China.
One of the most decisive factors behind this phenomenon has been the fact that the 300,000 state-owned enterprises were simply unable to compete with the explosion in private commercial ventures once China was outside the official trading system. Many of the state-owned industries will either fall by the wayside, or be absorbed into the much healthier private trading companies.
While the Communist Party's position has never been in any doubt, it will greatly benefit from the successful integration of China into the global business community. A key to this continuing economic success is the rise of the Chinese entrepreneurs. The Party has developed a pragmatic philosophy in the face of the rampant free market forces which have been gathering apace in this part of the world for some time now. If a handful of individuals can be unleashed to accumulate considerable wealth, then their trailblazing activities will be a beacon of inspiration that will lead the way for economic development throughout the rest of the nation.
The difference between the Chinese outlook and those of their counterparts in the United States of America, Western Europe, Russia and the capitalist countries of Asia is the fact that business leaders prefer to maintain a much lower profile, shunning the publicity that might see an American entrepreneur appearing on the cover of Time magazine or being interviewed on prime-time chat shows. One senior Chinese government official stated that the Chinese should always view entrepreneur success stories as “part of the overall process, not just in terms of their personal charisma”.

  
The healthy state of China’s health industry      

The healthy state of China's health industry
Overseen by the Ministry of Health, China's population of 1,354,000,000 enjoy a vigorous public health policy, based on preventative medicine, hygiene and good nutritional awareness. Historically, although free public health has waned since the days of the people's communes, the rise in private healthcare has led to considerable improvements in the quality of China's health services. Since the late 1940s, the national life expectancy has risen every year, currently standing at 74.8 years, while the infant mortality rate has decreased sharply over the same period.
The combination of market-driven policies and state control has led to an ever improving health status for the overall Chinese population. While there is no room for complacency, with sections of society still requiring particular attention, the signs are that 2013 will show continual improvements and innovations in healthcare. Four years ago there was a radical health care reform which, coupled with the twelfth Five Year Plan, really pushed for the modernisation of the Chinese health structure in three particular areas:-
• to reform the hospital system, • to provide universal basic insurance coverage, and • to ensure the promotion of essential medicine treatment.
Part of this comprehensive health drive is to provide the Chinese people with universal healthcare by 2020. This ambitious target has led to the vast mobilisation and upgrading of the entire pharmaceutical industry, as well as providing immense opportunities for both domestic and foreign companies to embrace this challenge. The government are also determined to transform the industry from a focus on generic drugs to becoming dedicated to radical innovation, with the emphasis on becoming amongst the world's leading champions of pharmaceutical solutions.
This will have a knock-on effect, as the concerted strive to remain at the forefront of drugs technology will lead to strong pharmaceutical supply lines, and the increasing funding of bold medical research. During this time Chinese medicine will also be making strenuous efforts to attain quality levels that are compatible with global standards.
These growth opportunities will continue to attract multinationals who will see the increasing benefits for extending their footprint in China. This situation is set to continue into the immediate future and on into the next few decades. China has the potential to become one of the leaders of pharmaceutical research in the world.

  
Recommended reading about the Chinese economy      

Recommended reading about the Chinese economy
If you are looking for an authoritative but generally easily digestible book focusing on the Chinese economy, then a recommended read is Barry J Naughton's ‘The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth'.
This provides an overarching study of the contemporary Chinese economy by someone who is an expert on the subject. Naughton offers considerable coverage, providing an engaging look into the way that this superpower's economy has evolved since 1949. Rather than simply reiterating facts which can be gleaned elsewhere, the author offers genuinely original insights based on strong research.
This book is to be recommended as an essential purchase for anyone with more than just a passing interest in the economy of China and the way it has developed from a mostly rural and agrarian structure into one of the world's largest and most technologically innovative. It would be suitable for students, scholars, academics and policymakers, but especially anyone in the business community. There are background chapters on China's pre-1949 economy, focusing on industrialisation, reform and the many complicated sociological factors that have been influencing the development of this market ever since.
The growth of international trade and foreign investment is given particular attention, as is the introduction of macro-economic cycles within the economy. Naughton's study also analyses that way the Chinese economy has developed in tandem with global trends. The book places China's ever-evolving economic status and market strength in the context of the growth of other advanced industrial countries, such as Japan and United States of America. It demonstrates how China's relationship with Western nations, historically categorise by mistrust on both sites, has evolved into something altogether more dynamic.
It is a complex subject matter, but one that has been changing for some time and continues to change as Chinese markets adapt to the myriad challenges of the 21st century. As this colourful nation becomes an increasingly key player in the global stage, interest in this subject will grow exponentially. This excellent study deserves to be regarded as one of the authoritative books on the topic, and will help to develop understanding of the many complex strands that weave together to form the the economy of the world's next superpower.
‘The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth', published by MIT Press, 2007. ISBN 0262140950, 9780262140959. 528 pages.
The author, Barry Naughton, is Professor of Chinese Economy and Sokwanlok Chair of Chinese International Affairs at the University of California, San Diego.

  
Profile of Rong Yiren, economic visionary      

Profile of Rong Yiren, economic visionary
Rony Yiren, nicknamed the ‘Red Capitalist', was one of the key players in the inexorable shift of the Chinese economy from an inwardly-focussed ‘sleeping giant' into one of the world's leading trading superpower s. As the nation's Vice President of China for much of the 1990s, he oversaw a crucial transition period for China.
Born in 1916 in Wuxi, near Shanghai, both his father and uncle were founders of a successful cotton mill. He was educated at St John's University, a Christian institute that was widely regarded as one of China's finest and most prestigious colleges. He was still in his 20s when he was given full responsibility for the running of all the 24 mills of the family business.
There followed a tumultuous period for China, as the old shackles were thrown off and Civil War between rival political factions, Communist and Nationalist, engulfed the country. Unlike most of the business community who decided to either take exile alongside the fleeing Nationalist government in Taiwan, or seek refuge in the British protectorate of Hong Kong, Rong's family remained loyal to China. They maintained their private business until 1956, when commercial enterprises were nationalised. His family received a compensation fee of around $6 million. A year later Rong was appointed vice-mayor of Shanghai, before being promoted to the position of economic advisor for the Communist Party.
There followed a difficult period, with radical youth groups such as the Red Guards denouncing everyone they suspected of harbouring loyalties to the old Nationalist regime. Rong was condemned as being one of these capitalist sympathisers, losing much of his personal wealth and even receiving death threats. He was demoted to the status of a janitor for a while. However, he received protection from Zhou Enlai, the First Premier of the People's Republic, and was shielded from further mistreatment.
Upon the death of Mao Zedong and the conclusion of the so-called Cultural Revolution, Rong became an advisor during the period of China's economic opening, instigated by Deng Xiaoping, the reformist leader of the Communist Party. In the late 1970s China truly began to explore new and radical ways of socialist thinking. The new revolutionary aim was to combine the historic aspirations of catering to the needs of all the people with the potential for development offered by entering the free market. From this moment, China was open for business for Western enterprises who were hungry for investment opportunities.
Rong risked further political ostracising in 1989 when he suggested the Party leadership negotiate with the disaffected students staging demonstration in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. In the end, the crisis passed and he was appointed to the ceremonial post of China's Vice President in 1993. Five years later, Rong retired, leaving a hugely influential legacy for his nation. Unfortunately the great economic visionary died in October 2005.
As well as his political nous in assisting with China's economic modernisation, his impact on its business world was immense. He was listed as one of the richest men in Asia and his family fortune is estimated at around $1.9 billion.

  
  
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