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Chinese Culture >> Chinese Society, Traditions >> Discover China

Discover China: A Special Preview

While the Chinese government has kept its currency, the Yuan (RMB), virtually pegged to the U.S. dollar for the past decade, the U.S. and other trading partners say that the rate is too low and gives Chinese exporters an unfair price advantage. While this has been and remains a point of contention with the many global powers, in July 2005, China had taken steps to loosen this peg by tying it to a basket of foreign currencies and allowing it float, at least marginally. So while this may continue to plague global businesses, it does still benefit the cost-conscious consumer so long as the "Made in China" label continues to prevail. One dollar is now equal to approximately eight Yuan.

But progress continues to be made, if slow and steady. In April 2006, the Chinese government said it would allow companies and individuals to invest overseas for the first time. The decision to let foreign currency flow out of China could eventually reduce pressure on the government-controlled exchange rate of the Yuan and step further toward making it a freely convertible currency. Until now, China has required companies to sell the government most of their foreign earnings and obtain approval to invest overseas.

"To Get Rich is Glorious" -Deng Xiaoping (1978)

Well there you have it...and then the floodgates opened.

Astounding development can be seen in many Chinese cities, but to try to even come close to covering that much ground in a single report would require a mind-boggling amount of research and analysis and countless hours worth of travel time. It would be impractical and inefficient to say the least. China is a huge country, third behind only Canada and Russia in landmass, but first in total population, and in spite of possessing a sizeable amount of uninhabitable land, we can be assured that by focusing on such major cities as Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an, the overall effects of the country's expanding markets and capitalistic intent will resonate outward from there and reach all of its 23 provinces in due course.

Chinese real estate has made headlines again and again the last several months. From one city to the next there is evidence of new building, from modern day public transport hubs to hundreds of new high rises. While Beijing and Shanghai, as China's two largest cities, lead the way, there has been and will be a spillover effect as many additional cities expand and experience the effects of a population crunch from millions or rural Chinese seeking to relocate to improve their living conditions. And as that happens, we'll be there to cover it. Not familiar yet with cities such as Guangzhou, Xiamen, Chengdu, or Wuxi? Odds are you will be soon enough.

While the country's capital, Beijing, continues to undergo its own profound transformation to prepare for new residents, it has a vested interest on a global scale as it readies for the 2008 Olympic Games, among the most proud moments in the country's storied history. Beijing's leadership has committed to making the Olympic event a "Green Games" and as environmentally friendly as possible. While some 700 miles to the south is Shanghai, China's version of Paris...or London or New York, with some 4,000 skyscrapers already erected and thousands more on the horizon...literally. And then there is the World Expo hosted by Shanghai in 2010 not to mention a couple of internationally renowned theme parks on the way. China has more than 170 cities with a population in excess of one million, so suffice it to say, the cities are simply trying to stay ahead of the race.

All this discussion about China's transformation and future changes should in no way discount all that China, the country, has to offer and its supreme ranking as one of the world's greatest natural and architectural achievements. For example, did you know that the biggest ancient building complex in the world is situated in Beijing? Or that the largest public square in the world is Beijing's Tiananmen Square? What about the longest man-made architecture in the world...The Great Wall; or the earliest and longest man-made canal...the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. The oldest tree, the greatest canyon and the highest plateau in the world are all found in China.

China is indeed a country of natural splendor, from the majestic Himalayan Mountains to the mighty Yangtze River, the land is as broad and diverse as the culture that defines it. And there is no better place to experience the country's magnificent traditions and the exciting evolution taking place than right there in the center of it all. The first step is essential. Book your flight, make like a tourist and see for yourself.

About the Author:

Vinnie Apicella is a Columbia educated writer, editor, international traveler and investor. He has recently created Vinnie's World, which offers business consulting and property sales in select emerging market locations, including China. For more information on Discover China, visit