Thursday, January 4, 2007

Canton is for me

So Netease ran this article today about how Guangzhou has entered a magical new phase of economic development. By imagining away 3 million people, the Guangzhou government was able to cook the numbers and wrung a per capita gross national product of 11 thousand dollars out of its population for 2006. (A 10 thousand dollar per capita annual income is the magic dividing line that differentiates developed and developing economies) The story does not seem to have been picked up by any respectable Chinese media organization, no doubt because the numbers are grossly misleading. Nevertheless, the article indirectly gets to a point that I agree with wholeheartedly: Guangzhou is a nice place to be.

Sure, its a little dirty and somewhat chaotic. But, I've been to Shanghai, Xi'an, and Beijing, and believe me, Guangzhou is the best city in China. Ask any dignified Beijing or Shanghai resident and they'll certainly tell you, Guangzhou is full of shifty, no-good, hustling vagrants. Don't listen to them. It’s all sour grapes. I think the nicest city folk in China live in Guangzhou. Sure they can be rough around the edges, but most are helpful and friendly. Warm smiles greet you in the shops and on the street. Unlike the jerks in Shanghai, Guangzhou locals make an effort to communicate with outsiders in Mandarin, and con artists don't curse at you when you ignore them like they do in Beijing. Public transport there is great. Guangzhou has one of the most civilized subway systems I've ever seen and the cabbies are real characters. The food is also out of this world, a fine departure from the bland Huaiyang-style stuff in Shanghai and the stomach-churning Beijing "delicacies" in the capital. Dim sum for me is the centerpiece of Guangzhou dining, but there you will also find some terrific Thai and Vietnamese fare as well. Look out McDonald's! Real Kung fu rules the fast food scene on the Canton streets.

Yes, so when I travel to China, I don't bother to visit the old capital or the so-called "New York" of the East. I prefer the old charm of Canton any day of the week.

1 comment:

Jonny America said...

Turns out the article actually ran in the (respected?) Chinese Business News. ( It didn't take long for the editorial smackdown, however. The Beijing News criticised the population number crunching on the second page.

Here's the link: