Rings of Bei­jing

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Png Yu Fung Edited by Mark Zuiderveld Pho­tos by Zhou Shi­jie, Fu Yu, Zeng Guo­quan, Bu Xiang­dong, Xiu Yuchen, Li Bin, Sang Yi, François Nadeau (Canada), Wang Xibao

Bei­jing’s ring roads ex­tend the city’s perime­ter, con­nect­ing dif­fer­ent land­marks and scenic ar­eas closer to­gether. Each ring ex­udes its own modern charm.

You can find nearly ev­ery­thing here— the im­pe­rial river, the north­west tur­ret of The For­bid­den City, Jing­shan Hill, Bei­hai, The White Pagoda, Gold Wa­ter Bridge, Round City, Red Walls, the li­brary and large stone lions.” As they walk side by side, a young man is elated while the lady smiles.

This is a com­mon scene at the city cen­tre, near the Sec­ond Ring Road. The two of them might be Bei­jingers tak­ing a closer look at their own city. Or, the young man has been in Bei­jing for a while and is show­ing her around. Or they’re both new, wel­com­ing Bei­jing as their po­ten­tial fu­ture home.

Yet, both of them are true Bei­jing na­tives like the char­ac­ters Xiangzi and Hu­niu from Lao She’s (1899–1966) novel Rick­shaw­boy. The char­ac­ters, al­most a hun­dred years old to­day, lived as they did in the book, wit­nesses to Bei­jing’s changes. Xiangzi and Hu­niu prob­a­bly couldn’t recog­nise it any­more.

In the 1920s, when Xiangzi and Hu­niu lived, the Cen­tral Axis known as Dahulu chuanr (“a large gourd stick”), which con­nected the For­bid­den City with the cap­i­tal's nine gates, was coun­try­side back then. Peo­ple liv­ing within the city area hardly trav­elled to there. But things are dif­fer­ent in to­day’s Bei­jing. Roads ex­tend­ing the city’s perime­ter are con­nect­ing dif­fer­ent land­marks and scenic ar­eas closer to­gether. Each ring takes on its own char­ac­ter.

If Xiangzi were to lead Hu­niu over the ring roads and in­tro­duce to her the beauty of Bei­jing to­day, what would he say? “Look! Here’s the Sec­ond Ring Road. Here’s a stun­ning night view at Desh­eng­men Archery Tower while the Bell and Drum Tow­ers man­i­fest an an­cient city. The Ming Dy­nasty City Wall isn’t only a seg­ment of the city wall, but at­tracts Bei­jingers here to take pho­tos of flow­ers and grass. Look again! This is the Third Ring Road where you can find Chi­nese roses. Driv­ing along this road, you’re em­braced by fresh flow­ers off to the side. Hid­den along the unique Fourth Ring Road are modern city parks. The wet­land along the Fifth Ring Road is en­chant­ing, and the Olympic For­est Park, a new land­mark, adds more scenic views. As for the Sixth Ring Road, the most 1 2 cap­ti­vat­ing view is none other than Bei­jing– 34 Hangzhou Grand Canal, a sym­bol of Bei­jing’s his­toric cul­tural her­itage.” The cap­i­tal's ring roads em­brace both Bei­jingers and tourists.

1 23 4

1. Desh­eng­men Archery Tower, the Sec­ond Ring Road

2. Qingfeng Park, the Third Ring Road

3. Ming Dy­nasty City Wall Relics Park, the Sec­ond Ring Road

4. Yuyuan­tan Park, the Third Ring Road

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