• Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

Exploring Dongcheng district, heart of Beijing


Jun 3, 2024
BEIJING, June 3rd (ABP) – Foreign journalists on May 29, 2024 explored the beauty of Dongcheng district, known as the heart of Beijing city thanks to the role it plays in the conservation of the cultural history of Beijing city and in showcasing the capital’s image to the outside world, as well as its remarkable contributions to the economic and sustainable development of the city.
In his welcome speech, the Standing Member of the CPC (Communist Party of China) Dongcheng District Committee and Deputy Mayor of Dongcheng District, Mr. Wang Huawei, described the said district as a key carrying area for Beijing’s role as the national center for politics, culture and international exchanges. He disclosed the unique resources of Dongcheng district based on three key aspects, that is to say, economic and social development, industrial development direction and good-quality business environment.
First and foremost, Mr. Wang told journalists from different countries of the world that this core functional area of the capital (Dongcheng district) spans an area of 41.84 square kilometers and governs 17 subdistricts and 163 communities, with a permanent population of 703,000 and a registered residence population of 996,000.
Dongcheng district is characterized by congregated administrative resources. It hosts numerous central government agencies and state-owned enterprises. ” Therefore, it’s our first and foremost priority to ensure provision of central administrative services “, Mr. Wang said.
The second characteristics of Dongcheng district is its rich cultural deposits. Mr. Wang pointed out that historic cultural blocks take up more than a quarter of the area in this district, encompassing three World Cultural Heritage Sites including the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and Yuhe section of the Grand Canal. Dongcheng district houses a total of 377 immovable cultural relics, among which 53 are national-level cultural heritage sites. He added that this district boasts first-class museums and theatres such as the National Museum of China, the National Art Museum of China, Beijing People’s Art Theatre, and China National Opera House.
According to Wang Huawei, Dongcheng district is home to vibrant business environment. Long reputed as a consumption center in the city, Dongcheng district boasts the “five major business areas”, among which Qianmen, Wangfujing and Longfu Temple have a trading history of over a hundred years. In addition, the district hosts 72 time-honored brands, including Tong Reng Tang, Quan Ju De, and Bian Yi Fang. ” Currently, led by high-quality cultural consumption, we are actively shaping the ‘Cultural Golden Triangle’ of the Forbidden City, Wangfujing, and Longfu Temple, while also stepping up efforts to build Dongcheng district into a demonstration zone of international consumption center “, he reassured.
View of the visitors listening to the welcome speech by Deputy Mayor Wang Huawei
The booming economy is one of the characteristics of Dongcheng district. Mr. Wang revealed that the economic density of Dongcheng district is on par with central districts of major cities in developed countries. In 2023, Dongcheng district recorded a district GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of 357.4 billion yuan, marking a 5% year-on-year growth, and a 6.2% annual average growth in the past three years. Notably, both the total tax revenue and aggregate commercial retail sales in the district have exceeded 100 billion yuan. With a total of 304 commercial buildings in the district, including 33 “one-hundred-million-yuan buildings,” the economic contributions of these buildings make up a large portion of the economy of the whole district, he illustrated.
In the same line of ideas, Dongcheng district is dedicated to cultivating pillar industries and making strenuous efforts to promote high-quality economic development. ” We have closely followed the development strategy underpinned by culture, driven by finance, and led by digital economy, as we vigorously create new competitive advantages in industrial development, ” the deputy mayor of Dongcheng district said, adding that the finance sector stands as the first pillar industry of this district, as more than 1,000 financial enterprises based in the said district contributed to an added value of over 100 billion yuan last year, accounting for approximately 30% of the district’s GDP.
With Dongcheng district housing many leading international financial institutions including Morgan Stanley, headquarters of Agriculture Bank of China, and Huaxia Bank, Mr. Wang pointed out that their efforts to build the financial eco-system for the capital are in full swing, specifying that the thriving digital economy contributes to over 40% of the district’s GDP.
Furthermore, Dongcheng district is home to 579 national high-tech enterprises, 161 specialized and sophisticated enterprises that produce new and unique products, and a batch of world-renowned tech companies represented by Qualcomm and Intel, as well as listed companies and “unicorns” in the digital technology field such as Kunlun Tech, COL and Mogo.ai, deepening the development of a landmark district for digital economy, he added.
The deputy mayor of Dongcheng district further stressed that culture remains the most dominant feature, strength, and asset of Dongcheng district. ” We currently have 528 cultural businesses above designated scale, including leading art brokers such as China Poly and China Guardian, and headquarters of media and film industry leaders such as Enlight Media and Maoyan, ” he revealed, adding that with 47 cultural industrial parks and the highest average revenue in the city’s cultural industry, Dongcheng district has emerged as the national culture and finance cooperation demonstration zone and the national culture export base.
Dongcheng district focuses on exploration of new paths for cluster development, enhancing industrial agglomeration and spatial quality and efficiency. ” Relying on ‘rail transit stations + grade A office buildings + star rated hotels + large commercial complex + quality service-oriented apartments’, we have fostered 8 industrial clusters from north to south that are functionally comprehensive, balanced between office and residence, well-equipped in services, and life and business friendly with a distinct feature of ‘small yet specialized and small yet good quality’, ” the deputy mayor of Dongcheng district told the foreign visitors.
He underscored that with a total area of 3.8 million square meters, those clusters welcomed 111 new enterprises in 2023, accounting for approximately one third of the district’s total economic contribution, making them a key driver of economic growth. This year, the industrial clusters are set to focus on 18 key projects in four categories including tech enterprise incubators, investment attraction for financial projects, urban renewal, and land reserves, he added.
In the third position, Dongcheng district highlights the acceleration of prime space activation and focus on creating “golden corners and silver lines” for industrial development. ” Our comprehensive assessment of spatial resources for industrial development, particularly the 10.8 square kilometers outside the old city area, is underway. We emphasized on urban renewal and established more large-scale industrial space of high quality to attract more “finance + headquarters + tech innovation” businesses to join, ” Mr. Wang said. He disclosed that within the old city area, they prioritized overall preservation, functional supplementation, and quality improvement, crafting user-friendly and contiguous spaces that are life and business friendly. These efforts are aimed at driving the creation of specialized themed valleys on culture, finance, health, and digital economy, he explained.
As the first district in Beijing to promote innovation in business environment reforms, Deputy Mayor Wang disclosed that Dongcheng district has ranked among the top in the city’s business environment evaluation for five consecutive years. He reassured that in order to keep ensuring good-quality business environment, they will strive to create, in this year, the “Beijing Service” Dongcheng District Model, launch a new government service center, deepen the reform to streamline access to government services by visiting one location or one service counter, logging onto one website, or making one trip, and make every effort to reduce institutional costs for business entry and operation.
On-the-spot information specified that unique features of Dongcheng district include its unparalleled architecture, giving the example of the building housing the China Global Television Network (CGTN).
The story of telling time in ancient city of Beijing 
Dongcheng district is home to the Bell and Drums Towers. On-the-spot information specified that the Bell and Drum Towers, first constructed in 1272, served as the capital’s time measurement center during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. It has been mentioned that building these two towers to tell time for the entire city was a pioneering move of Dadu (the great capital) of the Yuan Dynasty, which was inseparable from ancient China’s progress in urban planning, social management, and calendar system. The Bell Tower and the Drum Tower are parts of an integrated complex. With their special amplification system, the two buildings embody the wisdom of the ancient Chinese, telling the standard “Beijing Time” for more than 600 years.
Thus, the drum beats and bell chimes signify the “Beijing Time”. Both government officials and commoners lived and worked accordingly. The sound of the bell and drums bears not only memories of history but also the resonance of feelings between ancients and contemporaries that goes beyond time and space. To announce each night watch period, the drums would be beaten and the bell struck exactly 108 times respectively. Such drum beats or bell chimes would be performed in two rotating rounds, each of which contains 18 in a fast tempo, 18 in a slow tempo and 18 in a moderate tempo. The ancient Chinese used the number 108 to represent a year that includes 12 months, 24 solar terms, and 72 pentads.
The Capital Institute for Popular Education was set up at the Drum Tower during the Republican Period to awaken common people and remind them of national humiliations. The function of the Drum Tower was shifted to educating the public, and it played an active role in disseminating modern civilization.
Over the sweep of history, emergence, development and disappearance of things are closely related to time. Along with the progress of human society, people have gained ever-increasing knowledge of time and adopted various methods to observe, estimate, measure and record time. All these manifest people’s perception, knowledge, reporting, management and use of time. Methods and devices to measure and tell time have been constantly improved through new inventions, making time keeping and telling more and more accurate.
Foreign journalists and tourists witnessed how the drums were beaten to tell time in the ancient city of Beijing
Timekeeping devices are key parts of time culture and important landmarks of human society’s progress towards civilization. Since ancient times, the human perception of time and timekeeping has gone through a long evolution process, during which humanity gradually learned to use shadows cast by the sun, water flows, incense and then mechanical and electronic devices for timekeeping.
The way to or from the Drum Tower is narrow; tourists have to watch the stairs carefully
Time culture is the common wealth of mankind, and China has made important contributions to its development by inventing four types of timekeeping instruments: the sundial, which measures shadows cast by the sun; the clepsydra, which keeps time by the speed of water flows, rollers, which measure time by the speed of rolling balls; and incense clocks, which are used by seeing how much the incense has been burnt. They fully reflect the wisdom and workmanship of ancient Chinese in inventing and producing timekeeping devices, as well as their contributions to the development of timing technology in the world. In short, the story of time telling in ancient city of Beijing testifies that Chinese people’s creative thinking does not spring from contemporary period, but from time immemorial.
The dynamic growth of Dongcheng district is a testament to the vibrant progress of Beijing, and the remarkable advancements of China, the deputy mayor of Dongcheng district told foreign journalists.