Cap­i­tal In­flu­ence

Nan­jing may not be the coun­try’s cap­i­tal any­more, but it is cer­tainly a force to be reck­oned with

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Gary Bow­er­man

Nan­jing may not be the coun­try’s cap­i­tal any­more, but it is cer­tainly a force to be reck­oned with in China and be­yond

China‘s cap­i­tal city dur­ing the Repub­li­can pe­riod from 1911 un­til the gov­ern­ment moved tem­po­rar­ily to Chongqing dur­ing World War II, Nan­jing is to­day among the na­tion’s fore­most cities of trade, com­merce and tourism. The city is lo­cated on the banks of the RiverYangtze – around 200 miles from Shang­hai – and is the cap­i­tal of the pros­per­ous Jiangsu province, as well as a strate­gic in­land port and trans­porta­tion hub.

As in many large Chi­nese cites, rapid ur­ban­iza­tion and eco­nomic growth have been fully em­braced, re­sult­ing in the trans­for­ma­tion of Nan­jing’s in­fra­struc­ture and skyline. Sev­eral sky­scrapers hous­ing ho­tels, malls, ser­viced res­i­dences and of­fices have sprung up in re­cent years, the most eye-catch­ing be­ing Green­land Tower. At 1,476 feet, the world’s sev­enth-tallest build­ing soars above the an­cient Drum Tower just across the street.

Another re­cent ar­rival is the World Trade Cen­tre Nan­jing which is in the process of open­ing in phases. Once fully com­pleted, the com­plex will be com­prised of four land­mark tow­ers hous­ing of­fices, a lux­ury ho­tel, ser­viced res­i­dences with sky gar­dens de­signed by An­to­nio Cit­te­rio, a re­tail plaza and the Nan­jing World Trade Cen­tre Busi­ness Club.

Rapid ur­ban­iza­tion and eco­nomic growth have been fully em­braced, re­sult­ing in the trans­for­ma­tion of Nan­jing’s in­fra­struc­ture and skyline

For visi­tors, Nan­jing (which means “South­ern Cap­i­tal”) ri­vals Bei­jing (“North­ern Cap­i­tal”) for its in­trigu­ing spread of an­cient tombs, palaces and his­toric mon­u­ments. Un­like its cousin to the north, how­ever, Nan­jing has re­tained and re­stored its stat­uesque old city walls, which are a ma­jor tourism at­trac­tion. To the east of the city, the forested slopes of Zi­jin Shan (“Pur­ple Gold Moun­tain”, also known as Mount Zhong­shan) shade the an­cient Ming Dy­nasty Tombs, dat­ing from the 15th cen­tury, plus the mau­soleum of SunYat-sen, known as the Fa­ther of Mod­ern China. His im­pres­sive for­mer Pres­i­den­tial Palace in the city cen­ter now houses the China Mod­ern History Mu­seum.

Nan­jing is also renowned as a city of ed­u­ca­tion, and its large stu­dent pop­u­la­tion en­sures a lively and var­ied nightlife. The scenic Nan­jing Univer­sity cam­pus in the heart of the old city was founded in 1902, and is one of China’s most re­spected ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

First Im­pres­sions

In­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic ar­rivals will find Nan­jing Lukou In­ter­na­tional Air­port to be func­tional, but soul­less. Like many Chi­nese air­ports, it was de­signed with fu­ture ca­pac­ity growth in mind, rather than added-value ser­vices. Flight con­nec­tions in­clude all ma­jor Chi­nese cities, plus South Korea, Thai­land, Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore and Ger­many.

Do­mes­tic busi­ness trav­el­ers are in­creas­ingly turn­ing to the punc­tual high­speed train net­work to avoid the fre­quent flight de­lays in China. Su­per-speedy trains from cities in­clud­ing Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Hangzhou ar­rive at Nan­jing South Rail­way Sta­tion, which claims to be one of the world’s largest sta­tions – and has a greater va­ri­ety of cof­fee shops and food out­lets than the air­port. The sta­tion is a short taxi ride from down­town, or a quick hop on Metro Line 1 from the sta­tion in the base­ment.

Be­fit­ting its sta­tus as China’s for­mer cap­i­tal, Nan­jing is a vast city with a pop­u­la­tion of more than seven mil­lion. Bor­dered to the west by the mightyYangtze River, Nan­jing’s more than 2,500 square miles of ur­ban area are framed to the north, east and south by the rolling hills of the Ningzheng Ridge.

The city is di­vided into 13 ad­min­is­tra­tive dis­tricts. Busi­ness visi­tors tend to stay in the new ho­tels of down­town Xin­jiekou and the ad­join­ing Gu­lou dis­trict, which de­vel­oped around the an­cient Drum Tower and fea­tures sev­eral new com­mer­cial build­ings. The fast-de­vel­op­ing Hexi Dis­trict, lo­cated be­tween theYangtze and Qin­huai Rivers, is emerg­ing as Nan­jing’s new fi­nan­cial and com­mer­cial cen­ter.

WHAT TO DO Walk the Old City Walls

A sturdy de­fen­sive wall and two in­ner walls were built in the 14th cen­tury to pro­tect Nan­jing’s im­pe­rial palace. The an­cient city walls have been care­fully re­stored, and climb­ing the un­even steps up to Zhong­shan Gate – which is a short cab ride south­east of down­town – is a good way to be­gin a leisurely ex­plo­ration of the el­e­vated ram­parts, which yield ex­cel­lent views of Nan­jing‘s his­toric build­ings, Xuanwu lake and the mod­ern skyline. Open to the public 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM daily.

Clock­wise from top left: Nan­jing cityscape; Dr Sun Yat-sen mau­soleum; Nan­jing Rail­way Sta­tion; and an artist’s im­pres­sion of the up­com­ing Sum­mer Youth Olympics

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