As a frog who had been sleeping in a well, I opened my eyes in the summer of 2015 and found a Beijing that I could not recognize. Walking on the "electronics avenue" in the hi-tech hub Zhongguancun, I could not find any traces from the past except for Bus No. 332 which I used to take often when I was attending Beijing University. I simply could not trust my eyes. On a ride along Changan Avenue and then following the 3rd Ring Road to the Central Business District, I was astonished and amazed all the way. Before I had seen contemporary high-rise buildings spread impressively in Beijing Financial Street and a completely transformed area around the Olympic Village. But I had never imagined such a large-scale transformation. More important than this transformation of cityscape, however, is the change of residential life. Neighborhoods are vibrant. Upscale shopping centers coexist with small stores. Restaurants of different styles in different price ranges suit peoples diverse needs. Streets are clean and orderly. Public spaces are alive. Even air quality is improving. This is not a story that only happens in Beijing. I have noticed similar changes in other places during this trip, including my hometown where I became breathless to see carefully landscaped boulevards traversing a new city.

Qing Tian
Columbia Plaza

Washington DC

August 15, 2015