(From Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia)

Beijing (Peking)

Beijing (Peking), (Wade-Giles, Pei-ching), the capital of the People's Republic of China and the cultural heart of the Chinese nation. Also a center of industry and transportation, the city is the largest in China after Shanghai. Beijing municipality comprises 16 districts (qu) and two outlying counties (xian).

Beijing stands at the northern tip of the triangular North China Plain, on the site of earlier cities. Although several of its predecessors were dynastic seats, the first to become the capital of all China was Dadu, built by the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan in the 13th century. After the expulsion of the Mongols from China, Yongle, the third Ming emperor, founded Beijing in the early 15th century on the ruins of Dadu.

Following the establishment of the Chinese republic in 1912, the city remained the national capital until 1928, when the seat of government was removed to Nanjing (Nanking). The name Beijing, or "northern capital," was then changed to Beiping (Pei-p'ing), or "peace in the north." When the communists proclaimed the People's Republic of China in 1949, they made the city its capital and restored the name Beijing.

Beijing had changed very slowly before the Communist regime began to transform it. Old city walls were pulled down, streets widened and paved, new gardens and parks laid out, and palaces and pavilions repaired. New government buildings, stadiums, exhibition halls, residential sections, and industrial areas were built. The boundaries of the municipality, which is administered directly by the central government, were extended to include large rural areas that support the urban economy.

Location and Climate
The Beijing Plain, surrounded on three sides by mountains and merging southward into the North China Plain, was once a shallow bay known to geologists as the Gulf of Beijing. Sediments carried down by the Yongding and other rivers gradually filled the bay and built up the present land surface. The Beijing Plain is one of the most earthquake-prone regions in China. On July 28, 1976, a severe earthquake devastated Tangshan, 90 miles (145 km) southeast of Beijing.

Beijing stands at 150 feet (45 meters) above sea level between the Yongding and Chaobai rivers, which flow across the Beijing Plain. The lowland, sloping gradually toward the southeast, is backed by the Yan Mountains to the east and north, the Jundu Mountains to the northwest, and the Xi Mountains to the west, leaving its southern end open to the extensive North China Plain proper. The abruptly rising mountain ranges contain peaks that exceed 3,000 feet (900 meters), with few passes. For many centuries these ranges—together with the Great Wall and its fortifications—formed an important defensive line against invaders from the north. Beijing is the strategic junction point of routes between the North China Plain and both the Mongolian Plateau to the northwest and the Manchurian Plain to the northeast. Various dynasties erected capitals there.

The area has a more favorable climate than other parts of the North China Plain. With an average summer temperature of 79° F (26° C), it is not as hot as the center of the plain, although an extreme of 108.7° F (42.6° C) has been recorded. Winters are fairly cold, averaging 23° F (-5° C). In winter the strong northern "yellow winds," laden with clouds of dust, cause frequent dust storms. Because the northwestern mountains form a barrier to the summer monsoons, Beijing's average annual precipitation is 20 inches (500 mm), which compares favorably with the 15 inches (380 mm) in the center of the North China Plain.

Plan and Growth of the City
In the past, Beijing consisted of two adjoining walled sections: the Inner City on the north and the Outer City on the south. These constitute the Central Zone of the present Beijing municipality. The entire municipality has an area of 9,500 square miles (24,600 sq km). Beyond the Central Zone are two suburban rings, the Near Suburb and Far Suburb.

The Central Zone
The Inner City, roughly square in outline, measures about 4 miles (6 km) from east to west and 3.5 miles (5.5 km) from north to south. It was also known as the Tatar City after the Manchus drove out their Chinese subjects and confined them to the Outer City, which was afterward called the Chinese City. The Outer City is a rectangle about 5 miles (8 km) from east to west and 2.5 miles (4 km) from north to south. The wall of the Inner City was pierced by nine gates, three of which led into the Outer City, which had seven gates in its exterior wall. Each gate was surmounted by a lofty tower and protected by a semicircular bastion. After 1949 most of the city walls were demolished, and only a few wall gates and towers are preserved as historical structures.

The Inner City contains the former Imperial City, the center of the imperial government. It, too, was walled. The nucleus of the Imperial City was called the Forbidden City, or Purple Forbidden City, the still-moated and walled precinct of the Imperial Palace buildings. In the southeastern part of the Inner City was the former Legation Quarter, walled after the antiforeign Boxer Rebellion of 1900. It was administered by foreign governments as a separate "city" until 1945.

Beijing was laid out in a generally rectangular street pattern. Most of the broad thoroughfares run between the wall gates of the Inner and Outer cities, with smaller streets parallel to them. Between these streets are many narrow lanes known as hutong, where most of Beijing's inhabitants traditionally lived. The important city gates, temples, bazaars, and markets are symmetrically located on either side of Beijing's central axis. From south to north this imaginary line runs from Yongding Gate along South Tianqiao and Qianmen streets in the Outer City, through Qian Gate (Qianmen) into the Inner City, then through Tiananmen Square and along the central axis of the Forbidden City, and finally through Coal Hill and the Drum and Bell towers in the northern part of the Inner City.

The Central Zone, which covers 0.4% of the Beijing municipal area, is divided into four districts: the Eastern City (Dongdan) and Western City (Xidan) districts of the Inner City, and Chongwen and Xuanwu, the corresponding districts of the Outer City. The Eastern City district is predominantly commercial, whereas the Western City district contains many government office buildings and residences of high government officials. Between them is the former Forbidden City. The Chongwen and Xuanwu districts are mainly residential.

The Suburbs
Representing 7.6% of the Beijing municipality, the Near Suburb consists of the Chaoyang and Fengtai industrial districts and Haidian district, which contains most of the important educational institutions.

The Far Suburb, constituting 92% of the municipal area, comprises nine districts (many of them former counties) and two counties that are more remote. This zone supplies fresh vegetables, grain crops, dairy products, lumber, stone, energy resources, and water to the metropolitan population. Mentougou, Shijingshan, and Fangshan districts are industrial areas.

After 1980 Beijing experienced substantial suburbanization. This was marked by the net loss of registered residents in the urban core and the growth of population in suburban areas, particularly in the Near Suburb regions. Among the factors driving this process were the marketization of land, the transformation of land use from industrial to tertiary uses, the improvement of transportation, the availability of foreign and domestic capital, the rehabilitation of housing in the Inner City, and the construction of new housing in the suburbs.

New Central Business District
In anticipation of the 2008 Olympic Games, the city undertook the development of the new Central Business District (CBD). Located in Chaoyang district in the eastern part of Beijing, it covers about 1.5 square miles (4 sq km). By the year 2003 Beijing CBD had attracted some 3,000 enterprises, including 500 multinational corporations, 570 foreign representative offices, and 150 foreign-funded banks, insurance companies, and agencies. Prominent sites are the China World Trade Center, Motorola Plaza, and the headquarters and studios of China Central Television (CCTV).

The Fate of the Hutong
One of the unique features of Beijing is its numerous hutong, the narrow alleyways formed by lines of siheyuan, or quadrangles, an exclusive architectural style of residential buildings for ordinary Beijing residents. Beijing was formed by joining up one hutong with another to create old courtyard communities, where one could find the most traditional yet vibrant urban life in the old capital city. With the substantial expansion of urban areas, modern skyscrapers are increasingly replacing the traditional hutong courtyards. Many valuable hutong and siheyuan have disappeared or face demolition, leading to a wide call for heritage conservation. The Beijing government has thus launched plans to guard the city's ancient treasures.

Urban Problems
Accompanying the rapid growth in almost every aspect of life, some major urban problems confront the city of Beijing, among which transportation and the environment are the most serious. Along with Beijing's evolution as a major transportation hub with the rapid construction of transportation facilities—including five ring roads, several subway lines, 11 national highways, nine expressways, several railroad routes, and an international airport—traffic jams have developed into one of the city's biggest concerns. Traffic in the city center is often gridlocked, especially around rush hour. Even outside of rush hour, several roads remain clogged with traffic. Despite the extension of expressways, public transportation is underdeveloped.

Environmental issues are becoming increasingly important and may create bottlenecks capable of deterring further growth of the city. Beijing is regarded as one of the most seriously polluted capital cities in the world. Air pollution results from traffic emissions and manufacturing industries. Water shortages are significant enough to disrupt daily life and production. In the runup to the 2008 Olympic Games, the city government made priority goals of accelerating the construction of facilities, improving regulation, and preventing and controlling pollution. Efforts to improve air quality included the relocation of some 200 polluting factories out of the city. A few months before the games, the government froze ongoing construction projects and shut down chemical plants and out-of-date gas stations in a last-minute effort to reduce pollution.

Places of Interest
With its concentration of palaces, pavilions, temples, museums, parks, and other places of cultural interest and scenic beauty, Beijing is the showplace of China. Such sites support a growing tourism industry.

The Inner City
The modern center of Beijing is Tiananmen Square. The capital's largest plaza, it covers 100 acres (40 ha) just south of the Forbidden City.

Tiananmen Square
The square extends from the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen), in the south wall of the Imperial City, southward to Qian Gate (Qianmen), in the wall between the Inner and Outer cities. Through the northern end of the square runs Changan Avenue, Beijing's principal east-west thoroughfare.

On the west side of the square stands the Great Hall of the People, where the National People's Congress—constitutionally the highest organ of state power—is convened. Opposite is another large building that houses the Museums of Chinese History and the Chinese Revolution. In the middle of the square is the Monument to the People's Heroes, and to the south is the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung).

The Forbidden City
From the Gate of Heavenly Peace, an avenue leads northward between two parks to the Meridian Gate (Wu Men), which was the front entrance of the Forbidden City. Zhongshan (Sun Yat-sen) Park, to the west of this approach, is noted for its varieties of flowers and goldfish, its charming pavilions, and its rock gardens. Inside the park is the Altar of Earth and Grains, where the emperors offered sacrifices. The People's Cultural Park, on the east, contains the former Temple of the Imperial Ancestors. Later called the Working People's Palace of Culture, it has an auditorium, an exhibition hall, and other educational and recreational facilities.

The wall around the Imperial Palace grounds, faced with purplish glazed bricks, forms a rectangle about 0.5 mile (0.8 km) from east to west and 0.75 mile (1.2 km) from north to south. It is pierced by a tower gate on each side and surmounted by an additional tower at each corner. The palace buildings have been converted into museums, collectively called the Palace Museum. The major structures face south and are centered on three parallel north-south axes. On the central axis the six principal buildings are aligned one behind another, in two groups. The Three Great Halls of the front group were devoted to ceremonial functions; the Three Rear Palaces were reserved for state business and living quarters for the imperial family. Lesser palaces and specialized buildings, including a library group on the southeast, were built along the side axes.

Passing through the imposing Meridian Gate into a forecourt, visitors cross one of five marble bridges over the Gold Water channel and proceed through the Gate of Great Harmony (Taihemen) into a larger court. Ahead rises the first and most resplendent of the Three Great Halls. The group stands on a triple terrace with balustrades and long stairways of white marble, which set off their red walls and columns and their gleaming yellow tiled roofs. The symmetry and variation of open spaces and buildings, the rising terraces, and the contrasting colors combine to create an effect of monumental grandeur.

The first building, the Hall of Great Harmony (Taihedian), was the throne hall. It is followed by the Hall of Complete Harmony (Zhonghedian), where the emperor rested before receiving the court in the throne hall. In the third building, the Hall of Preserving Harmony (Baohedian), he presided over banquets for foreign princes and ambassadors and received scholars who had passed the official examinations. This is now a museum exhibiting Chinese arts and crafts from the Neolithic age to the end of the Qing dynasty.

The Three Rear Palaces are set on a terrace in a separate enclosure, the Inner Court. The first palace displays gifts to China from other countries. The second exhibits imperial seals, and a gallery behind the third has a collection of Chinese and Western clocks. In the Palace of Abstinence and Six Eastern Palaces, to the right of the rear palaces, are displays of bronze vessels, pottery and porcelain, and silk embroideries.

The Northern Sections
Overlooking the Forbidden City on the north is Coal Hill (Meishan), also known as Scenic Hill (Jingshan), the Inner City's highest point (210 feet, or 64 meters). Here Chongzhen, the last Ming emperor, committed suicide in 1644. The surrounding park is noted for its five decorative pavilions. Formerly reserved for the imperial family and court, it was planted with a great variety of fruit trees. Two imperial ancestral halls on the north have been converted into the Beijing Children's Palace, where Young Pioneers take piano, dance, and other lessons.

The Drum and Bell towers, near the Lake of Ten Monasteries and its sports ground, mark the northern end of Beijing's central axis. The beat of drums signaled the hours. To the northeast are the Metropolitan Library (formerly the Imperial Academy), the Temple of Confucius, and the Lama Temple of Harmony and Peace, a center of Tibetan Buddhist worship.

The Eastern Sections
The eastern part of the Inner City contains many of Beijing's best-known stores, bazaars, and restaurants. Wangfujing Street, a pedestrian zone, has a large department store. Dongan Bazaar, facing it, has hundreds of stalls that offer such merchandise as preserved fruits, lacquerware, and ivory, jade, and stone carvings. The Jixiang Theater, long a site for operas based on Chinese folk music, was dismantled in 1994 and then ordered rebuilt for the 2008 Olympics. The Dongsi People's Market farther north sells paintings, curios, and antiques, as well as secondhand clothes and daily necessities. Besides restaurants noted for their Beijing dishes, the area has establishments specializing in the cuisines of other parts of China and in foreign cooking, including Mongolian, Japanese, French, English, and Russian.

In the southeastern corner of the Inner City is the Beijing Railway Station, constructed in the 1950s. It handles routes to the north, the east, and the southern coast, while a station built in the western part of the city in the 1990s covers the west and the rest of the south.

The Western Sections. Three artificial lakes, surrounded by parks dotted with temples and pavilions, fill much of the western part of the old Imperial City. The North Lake (Beihai), west of Coal Hill, is one of Beijing's most popular recreational areas. It is separated from the Central Lake (Zhonghai) by the Great Marble Bridge. The Round Town, or Round Fort, at the southern end of North Lake, contains the Light-Receiving Hall with a white jade Buddha inside. Just north lies Qionghua Island, with the Temple of Everlasting Peace and the area's dominating landmark, the White Dagoba (Baita), a Tibetan-style shrine. On the northwestern edge of the lake extends the Five Dragons Pavilion—actually five pavilions connected by bridges. The nearby Iron Shadow and Nine Dragon screens are freestanding walls sculptured with dragons. Here also is the Children's Hall of Science and Technology.

The Beijing Library, west of the park, is the largest in China. Its collection exceeds 7 million volumes, including more than 200,000 rare ancient Chinese books. Farther west are the White Dagoba Temple (Baita si), first built in the 11th century, and the Lu Xun Museum, with mementos of the eminent 20th-century writer.

The southwestern part of the Inner City includes the Cultural Palace of the National Minorities, with exhibits, a theater, and a library. Stalls in the Xidan Bazaar, the western counterpart of the Tung-an Bazaar, offer such commodities as sports equipment, food products, old books, and secondhand goods. The bazaar also contains photo studios, restaurants, and a recreation hall where Chinese folk operas, storytelling, and xiang sheng (comic dialogues) are performed. The Inner City's southwestern commercial area has many notable restaurants as well.

The Outer City
The Outer City is bisected by a broad commercial thoroughfare extending from Qian Gate south to Yongding Gate. This artery is called Qianmen Street in the north and South Tianqiao Street in the south.

The area near Qian Gate contains numerous theaters, movie houses, restaurants, and shops. Beijing's oldest opera house, now the Guanghe Theater, is here. Shops on Dashalan, an east-west side street, specialize in footwear and in silk and cotton goods. Farther west runs Liulichang, a street named for the glazed tile works that operated in the area under the Ming and Qing dynasties. This street has many shops selling antiques, scroll paintings, calligraphies, and art supplies. Rongbaozhai (the Studio of Glorious Treasures) is noted for its reproductions of traditional paintings and woodcuts. During the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, an arts and crafts fair is held on Liulichang.

In the southern part of the Outer City is the once notorious Tianqiao (Bridge of Heaven) amusement area, named for a bridge that no longer exists. Its entertainments include classical Beijing and other types of Chinese opera, shadow puppet shows, acrobatic performances, and storytelling to the beat of drums or clappers. Tianqiao Bazaar is popular for its inexpensive goods.

East of Tianqiao lies the Temple of Heaven, where the emperors worshiped heaven and prayed for good harvests. One of China's architectural marvels, it has a complex geometric plan symbolizing the union of the square earth with the round heaven. The three main structures, again aligned on a north-south axis, are set within a vast double enclosure, now a public park. Both the inner and outer walls of the precinct are squared on the south and rounded on the north. The southernmost structure, the Round Mound (Huanqiu), is a stone altar of three round tiers with marble balustrades. It is enclosed by a round wall within a square wall. To the north stands the Imperial Heavenly Vault (Huangqiongyu). A small circular temple with a blue tile roof, it has a round enclosure. Farther north rises the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a large round temple on another triple-decked round terrace. The white marble of its terrace balustrades contrasts with the blue tiles of its triple-eaved roof, which is surmounted by a gilt ball.

Balancing the Temple of Heaven on the west was the Temple of Agriculture. Its grounds now house the Temple of Agriculture Stadium and a large swimming pool. Farther west is Joyous Pavilion Park. The Central Museum of Natural History is located just west of the Temple of Heaven.

The Suburbs
The main centers of interest in the outlying areas of Beijing lie west of the old city. Just outside the northwest corner of the Inner City are grouped the Beijing Exhibition Center, the zoo, the planetarium, the Five Pagoda Temple, and Purple Bamboo Court Park. Farther northwest lies the educational district, with Beijing University and more than 20 other centers of higher learning and research.

About 6 miles (10 km) northwest of the Inner City is the Summer Palace, comprising palaces, pavilions, temples, towers, and gardens in a setting of lakes and hills. The principal buildings lie on and below Longevity Hill, overlooking Kunming Lake to the south. On the hill are the Sea of Wisdom Temple, the Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha, and other beautiful structures. The Long Corridor, a richly painted, carved, wooden gallery along the lakeshore, ends on the west at the Marble Boat, a shiplike pavilion.

Fragrant Hills Park, west of the Summer Palace, is one of the most scenic parts of the Western Hills. To its north lie the Temple of Azure Clouds, housing the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Sleeping Buddha, famous for its recumbent statue of the Buddha and for the rare trees in its courtyards. South of Fragrant Hills Park are the Eight Great Temples.

In a valley 30 miles (50 km) northwest of central Beijing are the Thirteen Imperial Tombs, where Yongle and 12 subsequent Ming emperors were buried. The Changling, Yongle's tomb, is the most elaborate. A great processional way leads to it through monumental gateways, past a huge stone tablet on the back of a stone tortoise, and along rows of statues of beasts and men.

The Great Wall, ancient China's supreme engineering feat, crosses the northernmost part of Beijing municipality. The road leading northwest from the city traverses Juyongguan Pass to Badaling Pass, which is guarded by two fortified gates of the Great Wall. The Great Wall was rebuilt many times through the centuries, and many sections of it have suffered serious damage from wind and water, as well as human destruction. Since the 1980s the Chinese government has allocated special funds to restore this national treasure. The Wall at Mutianyu is one of the sections recently restored. It is about 1.5 miles (1.6 km) long and includes 22 watchtowers. Mutianyu is usually agreed to be the most scenic section of the Wall.

Near the western edge of the Outer City are the White Cloud Taoist Temple and the Temple of Celestial Peace. The latter is a pagoda with 13 superimposed roofs, predating the Mongol period.

About 10 miles (16 km) southwest of the old walled city, the beautiful Marco Polo Bridge (Lugouqiao) spans the Yongding. The bridge was described by Marco in his book of travels. Here, on July 7, 1937, the Chinese people began their war against the Japanese invaders.

The Economy
Industrial development since 1949 has made Beijing a modern manufacturing city, adding a new role to its traditional functions as a governmental, cultural, and intellectual center. The Capital Iron and Steel Plant, formerly the Shijingshan Ironworks, is one of China's largest integrated steelworks. Beijing has new machinery, chemical, and textile industries. Among their manufactures are seamless tubes, machine tools, farm and transportation equipment, cranes, and mining machinery; fertilizers, insecticides, and plastic products; and cotton yarn, cotton cloth, and other textile products. Modernized and expanded handicraft industries turn out such goods as rugs, jade and ivory carvings, and lacquerware.

In addition to traditional production, Beijing aims to boost new sectors such as high-technology industries. In June 1999 the first state technology park was set up in Beijing around the Zhongguancun area in Haidian district, where the two best universities in China, Beijing and Qinghua universities, are located. Zhongguancun became widely known as China's Silicon Valley, incubating knowledge and information industries. After Beijing won its bid for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the city experienced a large-scale investment boom in areas such as construction, real estate, tourism, telecommunications services, logistics, and catering. The city government proposed to invest 180 billion renminbi (approximately U.S.$21.8 billion) in the development of infrastructure and public facilities between 2002 and 2007. Among 142 key projects were the construction of sporting venues, subway lines, light railways, highways, and an additional airport terminal; the abatement of air and water pollution; the establishment of fiber optic, mobile communications, and digital networks; and the improvement of public facilities providing water, electricity, gas, and heating. In the process of construction, hundreds of archaeological sites were unearthed, some of them dating back 2,000 years.

Beijing has replaced Shanghai as the transportation hub of East Asia. Air routes radiate from the capital to other Chinese and many foreign cities. Express trains operate regularly to major Chinese population centers and periodically to Ulan Bator (Mongolia), Moscow, Pyongyang (North Korea), and Hanoi (Vietnam). Beijing is connected to Hong Kong by the Beijing-Kowloon Through Train, which was inaugurated in 1997. Local rail lines serve outlying areas of the municipality, and 12 highways link Beijing with surrounding cities. The capital is also the northern terminus of the Grand Canal, an important water route to the Chang (Yangtze) delta.

Intellectual Life
Two of the most prestigious institutions of higher education founded before 1949 are Beijing University (1898), which became famous for its teaching of literature, and Qinghua University (1911), renowned for its scientific and technological instruction. The Communist government has established more than 20 new centers of advanced study, including the People's University, which specializes in ideological training, and the Central Institute for Nationalities, which enrolls students from China's minority groups.

Instruction in the arts is provided by colleges and institutes of fine arts, applied arts, dance, drama, music, and cinematography, among others. Scientific institutes train students in such professions as metallurgy, petroleum research, and aeronautical and agricultural engineering.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences, the country's largest research institute, is located in Beijing. The city is also the headquarters for more than 50 learned societies of various disciplines.

A recent trend emphasized is training in English for non-English-major students. Many tertiary institutions in Beijing make use of English-language textbooks, especially for students of computer science, management, and economics. As part of the preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games, foreign-language instruction was extended to the wider community, including the police force.

Fossil discoveries indicate that human beings lived in the Beijing area some 500,000 years ago. The earliest remains are of "Peking man" and were unearthed near Zhoukoudian (Choukoutien) in the southwestern part of the municipality.

About 1100 B.C. the city of Ji was established on the present site of Beijing. It was chosen by the state of Yan (722-221 B.C.) as its capital but was destroyed by Shihuangdi, founder of the unifying Qin dynasty (221-206 B.C.). After its reconstruction the city was called Yan and later Yuzhou. During much of the period of disunion (220-589 A.D.) between the end of the Han dynasty and reunification by the Sui, the city was under the control of foreign invaders from the north. In 936, after the breakup of the succeeding Tang dynasty, Yuzhou was destroyed by the Khitan, a Mongol people. The Khitan built the first large city on the site of Beijing and called it Nanjing, the "southern capital" of their Liao empire. Nanjing occupied the southwestern corner of what is now central Beijing. In 1013 Nanjing was renamed Yanjing. The Liao dynasty was overthrown by the Jurchen, a Tungusic-speaking people, who enlarged Yanjing and renamed it Zhongdu, the "central capital" of the Jurchen Jin dynasty, established in 1115. The Jin controlled most of northern China.

In 1215 Zhongdu was destroyed by the Mongol forces of Genghis Khan. In the 1260s the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan built his new capital on the site of the present Inner City of Beijing and farther north. Named Khanbaliq ("city of the khan"), it was called Dadu ("great capital") by the Chinese. The city was square in shape, with walls about 17 miles (27 km) long. The largest of Beijing's predecessors, Dadu was a city of imperial splendor.

The Mongol Yuan dynasty was overthrown by a Chinese commoner who founded the Ming dynasty in 1368. The new emperor—Hongwu, or Ming Taizu—largely demolished Dadu, renamed the district Beipingfu, and established his capital at Nanjing on the Yangtze River. In 1404 the third Ming emperor, Yongle, began the construction of the present Inner City, including the Forbidden City, and named it Beijing, although it was not officially made the capital until 1421. In the next century, after the city had expanded outside its southern wall, a second wall was built to enclose the new Outer City.

After the Manchus overthrew the Ming and set up the Qing dynasty in 1644, Beijing remained the capital of China. The Manchus made few changes in its plan. They continued the building program begun by the Ming and improved the Forbidden City, most of which in its present form dates from the 18th century. The Manchus also built the Summer Palace near the Western Hills. Beijing was taken by a British and French military force in 1860 during the second Opium War and by a multinational expeditionary force in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion. On both of these occasions the city and its outskirts suffered considerable damage.

Following the establishment of the republic in 1912, Beijing continued as the capital of China until 1928, when the Nationalist government made Nanjing its seat. A merely provincial city in the following years, the former capital was called Beiping. As the capital of the People's Republic of China since 1949, Beijing has taken its place among the world's great centers of political power and influence. Chinese officials viewed the 2008 Olympic Games as the city's coming-out. In addition to the numerous construction projects, the government organized a "civility campaign" to prepare residents for the onrush of foreign visitors. Population: 11,509,595 (2000 census).

David Chuenyan, Lai University of Victoria
Anthony G. O. Yeh, University of Hong Kong

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