Arrived in Beijing last evening with a group of fellow Chamber execs. All of us are ACCE (Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives) Ford Foundation RSD Fellows. RSD stands for Regional Sustainable Development and each of us worked on projects dealing with efforts to make our communities better in the 21st Century.
Thanks to ACCE and Ford for sponsoring this trip to China. We'll be spending 3 days in Beijing and 4 in Shanghai and meeting with a people working in China on issues ranging from Environmental Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility to Foreign Investment and the Talent Landscape.
Beijing is impressive. The airport (which was totally rebuilt for the 2008 Olympics) is extraordinarily beautiful and everything worked incredibly well from Immigration to Customs. We passed through temperature detectors that are set to find people with high fevers. Luckily we all passed with flying colors.
We're staying at the Beijing Marriott City Wall, which is built next to the only remaining section of the wall of the "common" city--to distinguish it from the Imperial and the Forbidden Cities. It's a lovely hotel with an elegant lobby and beautiful rooms. The bathroom is a delight to someone who just spent 14 hours flying from JFK to PEK.
There are 17 million people living in Beijing. Within the 3rd ring--the Common City (the first is the Forbidden City and the second the Imperial City)--are hotels, the enormous train station, office and government buildings, and the Central Business District. The boulevards are wide and the traffic is fierce. Our guide says there are more than 4 million automobiles registered in the Beijing area.
Most of the office buildings are pretty bland in design--about 30 story glass blocks, but one is very striking for two reasons. The China TV building is called "the blue jeans building" by locals. It's a two offset glass towers with a cantilevered connection that forms the belt and torso, It's a pretty odd building by itself, but is made much odder by the burned out building adjacent to it. It was completely destroyed one year ago during the spring festival by fireworks. Fireworks here are pretty serious and a little out of control. The developers are still trying to figure out how to take down the blackened and twisted hulk since it shares a foundation with the other two towers here.