By Paul Chung
Image credit: @strippedpixel.
Overcrowded roads and subways, hazardous pollution, dust storms, ugly buildings, and so on. Beijing isn’t looking so hot right now.
Rumours have emerged that the “post-apocalyptic unlivable hellscape” may lose its title as the capital city as early as 2016 to a small city in Henan Province, probably for the better. Commentators have been calling for the abandonment of Beijing for years.
According to a recent article on Tea Leaf Nation, “on February 8, social media user @Victor倪卫华 tweeted on Sina Weibo a rumor that Xinyang, a small city in Henan Province, may become the capital of China in 2016, citing information leaked by a local government website in the city. He claimed that a group of more than 160 experts descended on Xinyang to explore the possibility for the 28th time in July 2012.”
The idea isn’t as crazy as it sounds. China has had numerous capitals over its much vaunted 3,000 year history, most of which were better placed than Beijing. In the last century, both Australia and Brazil moved their capitals (to Canberra and Brasilia respectively). Beijing, on top of its pollution and traffic woes, is geographically distant from China’s economic boomtowns in the south, and the country’s heartland.
Many Beijing residents on Sina Weibo were thrilled by the prospects of a capital relocation. Others were not too pleased, notably Xinyang residents who feared that Beijing’s notorious pollution and traffic might also accompany the capital relocation to the southern Henan Province city.
As for now, Beijing residents are going to have to live with the realities of hazardous pollution and traffic jams. If there’s one consolation, it’s that Beijing is only the ninth most polluted Chinese city.