Monday, October 03, 2005

Chongqing, take two

On Saturday, we left Chongqing for a cruise down the Yangtse River. I posted a pretty harsh impression of Chongqing before I left. Since then I've learned a little bit more about Chongqing and have a fuller perspective on why the city wasn't as fancy as Beijing or Chengdu.

Chongqing is a major Chinese industrial center built on the hills overlooking the intersection of two major Chinese rivers. It is one of the oldest major cities in China and has housed millions of refugees and been the center of fighting during China's war with Japan and Kuomintang's anti-communist wartime capital during the same period. The population in the city and surrounding metropolitan area is over 320 million and many consider Chongqing to be China's largest city.

Explaining Chongqing culture by comparing it to the flavor of a Western city is a pretty strained description, since the city is far enough up the river that few foreigners have visited or impacted Chongqing over it's long history. I'm still going to try. People there reminded me of working Americans who live in rust belt cities. They are straight foward, hard and tired. The big difference between Chongqing and, say, Detroit is that Chongqing is still growing. City leaders expect big things to happen in Chongqing after the completion of the Three Gorges Dam. Cheap electricity is supposed to boost production in te city. I hope it works. The big risk is that the dam will slow the current in already filthy Yangtse. (Fast currents keep rivers clean.) If this happens, Chongqing will hover over the one of the biggest cespools in the world.

That's Chongqing. I think I've given it a fairer wrap or at least made up for ripping on it previously, so I think I can move on.


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