Opinion\From the Readers

Five years of Harbin, an example of Chinese development!

By Sean Boyce | | Updated: 2017-09-21 18:34

I arrived in Harbin 5 years ago to study Chinese at the Confucius institute. At that time, Harbin wasn’t as developed as many other cities in the country. It had old Soviet-style buildings, a road system that was struggling to manage the millions of cars and a creaky transport system. Compared to say Beijing or Shanghai, Harbin looked somewhat backward.

I thought to this it? Is this all Harbin has to offer?

But that was then. Five years later, my opinion has completely changed.

Harbin has changed so much that now it looks a completely different city. There’s a metro system, an entire new district rose from the ground, qunli. (群力) and it sports new houses and building complexes. Across the river, we have the Wanda city that just held China’s first ever summer snowboarding event…indoors of course. One of the biggest indoor snowboarding and skiing complexes in Asia dominates the Harbin skyline. Inside the complex, there’s Harbin’s own restaurant with Michelin star chefs. Every year there are newer parks opening up all over the place. The air is becoming cleaner and healthier. Ultimately, everyday single month something completely new is happening in Harbin. It is phenomenal to bear witness to it.

On top of this we see so much more of China’s deep and rich culture pouring through, with events like the daily free Traditional Chinese cultural performances at 关东古巷, a traditional style Chinese mall to free classes on daosim and Confucianism being offered to both foreigners and Chinese alike.

All my friends agree that Harbin is becoming visibly more amazing every year and the people of Harbin don’t have have a bad thing about the city and are immensely proud.

It’s not just Harbin though, I think every expat has such a story to tell, whether you are in the countryside or Shanghai, China’s buildings literally are standing up around us as we speak. It makes me Jealous to think of how slowly progress is made in my own city back home…

But then I think about how long I have been in Harbin and I realise that 5 years is already about 20 percent of my life. When I put it in perspectives like that I realise that actually, Harbin feels more like home to me. And now that I am not there I miss it dearly. I miss sitting on the street eating BBQ and drinking hapi哈啤, I miss walking through the blistering winds in the winter knowing that warm radiator is waiting for me to get home, so I can snuggle up in my bed next to it. I miss seeing the Ice festival every year and the melting of the snows every spring. I realise, I am missing Harbin like I my own home.

This Is the modern realty of China however, as the Government spends more and more money on improving everything from internet to transport to air quality to environmental protection, it becomes more and more attractive to so many foreigners. Although China as a country belongs to Chinese people, more and more foreigners are coming to call China “home” and I think it’s really beautiful to see that coming together and I am also happy to have personally seen this, this exponential rise of modern China. May it continue to do so!

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