The world awaits Beijing’s hosting of the 2008 Olympics, an occasion which will bring into the global spotlight the dramatic advances China is making in enhancing the quality of life for its people.
So when we last left off, I was in Taipei, heading to the mainland, to the capital of the China, Beijing. With the second largest population in the most populated country in the world, it has a lot of people, a lot of money, and a lot of culture. In order to cover Beijing’s video game culture properly, to truly understand the video game culture of Beijing, I want to give an idea of the culture of Beijing and mainland China at the same time.
So, a brief summary of the recent history of Beijing. Beijing (for “Northern Capital”) has been a major city in China since its early history, earning it a special status switching from capital, co-capital, and non-capital (often renamed “Beiping”), rivalling southern city, Nanjing (“Southern Capital”). The beginning of it’s current designation as capital was announced on October 1, 1949, by the Communist Party of China under the leadership of Mao Zedong along with the announcement of a new country, the “People’s Republic of China.”
(This distinguished the nation from the previous rule of the “Republic of China” by the Kuomintang, which escaped to Taiwan with a significant portion of China’s treasures and 2 million refugees, amongst them my grandparents. Taiwan is now 99% of the Republic of China and the two names are often used interchangeably. Whether or not Taiwan is still a part of China or if the Kuomintang did the right thing to take China’s treasures to protect them from the Great Leap Forward are still touchy subjects.)
Meanwhile, Beijing grew with the growth of the People’s Republic. The People’s Republic worked under a Communist “planned economy” system and is currently the second largest economy in the world. Beijing’s prosperity and future was honored by being named the location of the 2008 Olympics.
However, it is still behind around 90 countries in terms of per capita GDP, so while it’s a wealthy nation not everyone gets to share the wealth. With its growth came the shopping districts of Xidan and Wangfujing, along with China’s Silicon Valley, Zhongguancun (all of which I have seen on my trip).
Wikipedia also notes the various effects of urbanization on the city that I witnessed first-hand,
heavy traffic, poor air quality, the loss of historic neighbourhoods, and a significant influx of migrants from various regions of the country, especially rural areas.
You’ll see the effects of the urbanization of Chinese culture in Beijing in:
Part 2 – Beg, Borrow, or Steal.
Part 2 – Beg, Borrow, or Steal >>
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