'Slow-paced' city gets up to speed

Updated: 2010-12-17 14:50

By Zhang Jing (China Daily European Weekly)

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Tianjin resembles Shanghai in many ways.

Like the country's financial center in the south, Tianjin names many of its streets and roads after various Chinese cities.

Like Shanghai, Tianjin used to contain foreign concessions when China lost to the allied forces of the West in the 19th century. There are Italian-styled villas with red-bricked domes, German windows square and heavy, as well as French terraces in white marble.

Tianjin is also betting on turning some of these old settlement areas into cafes, bars and restaurants to draw tourists for a cosmopolitan feel.

Taking its cue from Shanghai's 494-m- high World Financial Center, Tianjin is similarly set to complete its 75-story Global Financial Center that reaches up to 336.9 m.

'Slow-paced' city gets up to speed
People line up for a ride on the 120-meter-high Tianjin Eye ferris wheel at Yongle Bridge, over the city's Haihe River. Provided to China Daily

But unlike Shanghai, the pace of life in Tianjin is much slower. During the day, visitors to its cafes and shops in its old settlement areas can find them deserted, except for a number of security personnel and elderly women quietly basking under a winter sun, in stark contrast to the crowded streets of Shanghai during this time of the year.

True to its multifaceted history, Tianjin is also a city that contains mosques, temples and churches that are built within blocks of each other. The residence of China's last emperor, Puyi, is also not far from those of the generals who helped deprive him of his throne.

The average monthly income of a Tianjin worker is officially 2,719 yuan (309 euros) and many of them are contented with what they have.

"I'm very happy that Tianjin looks much prettier than before," a 52-year-old cabbie surnamed Liu says.

"We have new pavements along the River Haihe. We have 16 bridges now. And we even have a ferris wheel."

The Tianjin Eye ferris wheel stands 110 m tall and can take close to 400 people for a bird's eye view of the Haihe River and the developing city, builders say.

About 150 km from downtown Tianjin, the government is also building a 100 sq km coastal leisure zone next to the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city at the Tianjin Binhai New Area. The project reclaims land from the sea and is touted as a Chinese version of the Dubai Palm Island.

Luo Jiajun, director of the Tianjin Binhai Tourism Area Administration, says the leisure zone has attracted an investment of about 6 billion yuan and about 17 sq km of land has been filled in.

In time, the leisure area boasting five-star hotels, a yacht area and business centers is expected to help Tianjin take its place amid the most modern cities of the country. 

Zhang Jing

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