■ 09:19 (UTC+08:00), 10 JUL 2016 | CHN CHAOYANGMEN, BEIJING
I was in Yanqing just a few days back. This part of Beijing joins Miyun as the last parts to be converted from county to district status. This wasn’t my first time to this part of the Chinese capital, but it was my first “real” trip inside the newly-upgraded district.
Yanqing is, admittedly, a fair bit away from central Beijing. Therefore, you can’t blame parts of it looking as if it was still stuck in the 1980s. However, it remains visibly vibrant. Just look on the main avenues… symbols of the Winter Games to come and winter sports symbols as well… All Yanqing really needs is a fuller upgrade and it’ll be good for two events — the 2019 World Horticultural Exhibition — and the 2022 Winter Olympics, together with central Beijing and Zhangjiakou.
That makes it face the same challenge as central Beijing (which in 2019 has to welcome the world for the Basketball World Cup as well — oh and also the PRC at 70!). There’s no doubting it can do this well, though, as I’ve previously been in Yanqing a fair bit, and I’ve seen it developing pretty well. In some aspects, it’s already at the forefront when it comes to other parts of suburban Beijing.
Take, for example, the time just before the 2008 Summer Olympics; then, I’ve already seen Yanqing at the forefront when it came to bilingual signage, with many of them actually well done. This part of Beijing is also halfway between the city centre and the nearby city of Zhangjiakou, with it being close to two motorways — National Expressways G6 and G7. Yanqing does have a few nice “regular” highways as well, but I feel it needs to get its infrastructure up to speed. Expressway G7 is only half done for the Yanqing bit — there’s a visible gap between the parts of central Beijing and those outside of town. These bits need to be joined up first, so that Expressway G7 is reality between Beijing and Ürümqi in Xinjiang.
Another bit of infrastructure I was increasingly interested in was a new route from Xingshou to Chongli, which is where the skiing events will happen in 2022. One plan called for a full-blown motorway, which I supported as this is China and you needed to futureproof things. The other plan called for a “mere” highway “of higher standards”. That didn’t work out with me. I was certainly pleased when it appeared that the new route will increasingly be built as a full motorway.
Yanqing also has a very “snow”-ish aspect it can easily build upon. This part of Beijing is likely to see the first snowflakes float into town. I remembered once when I headed out of this part of the capital, only to see a fair bit of snow on the mountains. This should be a sign that snow, come 2022, won’t be “all-artificial”! If you’ve got “the real thing” in Yanqing and Chongli… it’ll be us! Beijing and environs…!… “keeping it real”!
Having visited central Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou and Chongli, I’ve seen the bits of China ready to host the world come 2022. I’m confident they’ll be good, but actions speak louder than words. It’s time to move away from the mic and get my hands dirty as I do my bit to ensure we’ll pull all this off in style in just less than 6 years’ time — a Games that will be loved by residents, Olympians, and the world alike. ■ ■ ■