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Old 11-01-2014, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
6,312 posts, read 6,965,178 times
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Hi guys, I would like some help in understanding the characteristics of the major cities in China. I was just realizing today that over the past few years I've subtly developed a bias against the Mainland...now that I am approaching middle age and have been seriously considering a move to Asia I find myself totally dismissing PRC when this certainly was not the case in my younger years. So while I really have no interest in living there, I would like to learn more about the cities in China.

Are the major cities all rather similar besides climate? Obviously a few stand out like Shanghai and Beijing, but for the other dozens of areas between 5-10 million population are they kind of a blur or are most of them unique in some way? What are the special characteristics of each?

for comparisons sake: I have visited Beijing in '01 and '07, Shanghai in '01, Chengdu in '07, Shenzhen in '07, Zhongshan in '13 and '14. No other experiences in PRC.

Thanks!
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Old 11-01-2014, 03:02 PM
 
6,725 posts, read 6,601,290 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by projectmaximus View Post
Hi guys, I would like some help in understanding the characteristics of the major cities in China. I was just realizing today that over the past few years I've subtly developed a bias against the Mainland...now that I am approaching middle age and have been seriously considering a move to Asia I find myself totally dismissing PRC when this certainly was not the case in my younger years. So while I really have no interest in living there, I would like to learn more about the cities in China.

Are the major cities all rather similar besides climate? Obviously a few stand out like Shanghai and Beijing, but for the other dozens of areas between 5-10 million population are they kind of a blur or are most of them unique in some way? What are the special characteristics of each?

for comparisons sake: I have visited Beijing in '01 and '07, Shanghai in '01, Chengdu in '07, Shenzhen in '07, Zhongshan in '13 and '14. No other experiences in PRC.

Thanks!
For "similar", what are you referring to?
Different Chinese cities certainly have different cultures. Their dialects are often not mutually intelligible, they have very different tastes of food, people have different habits, people have very different looks, etc. However for a foreigner, many of the differences are probably not salient, because they are all equally exotic.
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Old 11-01-2014, 10:51 PM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
6,312 posts, read 6,965,178 times
Reputation: 3502
^Yeah all of that stuff. I suppose I'm hoping for China Cities 201, if 101 is an introductory course then I want the next level up.

Obviously there are huge differences in food, culture, language between extreme regions like Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, etc, but what about Changsha and Nanchang for example? Do the people really look that different? Would it be akin to a foreigner in the US noticing subtle differences between cities in the midwest or is it more pronounced than that?

I know my question is very vague, my apologies. I feel like I know Macau, Hong Kong and Taipei very well compared to any of the major Chinese cities.
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Old 11-01-2014, 11:26 PM
 
6,725 posts, read 6,601,290 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by projectmaximus View Post
^Yeah all of that stuff. I suppose I'm hoping for China Cities 201, if 101 is an introductory course then I want the next level up.

Obviously there are huge differences in food, culture, language between extreme regions like Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, etc, but what about Changsha and Nanchang for example? Do the people really look that different? Would it be akin to a foreigner in the US noticing subtle differences between cities in the midwest or is it more pronounced than that?

I know my question is very vague, my apologies. I feel like I know Macau, Hong Kong and Taipei very well compared to any of the major Chinese cities.
Mainland China all has the same political system, so that diversity is minimal.

The people from Changsha and Nanchang do not look that different. Certain types may be more common in one city, but it is far from a reliable distinction, especially in big cities. Accents are quite different. Even if people speak Mandarin, they have local accents blended in. Food can be different too. Both Changsha and Nanchang have a lot of spicy dishes, but you can always find local specials.

I would say, the difference between Changsha and Nanchang is similar to that between Kansas City and Denver. People from that area can tell a lot of differences, but outsiders may not.
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:28 AM
 
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I worked in Jinan the capital of Shandong Province twice and I can tell you that its main feature which is different to many other Chinese are its 72 springs. Also the people of Shandong Province are known for their friendliness.
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Old 11-02-2014, 12:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Chava61 View Post
I worked in Jinan the capital of Shandong Province twice and I can tell you that its main feature which is different to many other Chinese are its 72 springs. Also the people of Shandong Province are known for their friendliness.
Some "stereotypes" in China:
Beijing: talkative, bragging
Shanghai: arrogant, parsimonious
Shandong: straightforward, traditional, warm-hearted
Zhejiang: smart, business-oriented, wimpy
Sichuan: laid-back, hot girls, eating and playing
Hunan: hard working, talented, somehow violent
......
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Old 11-02-2014, 01:56 PM
 
32,060 posts, read 32,962,795 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
Some "stereotypes" in China:
Beijing: talkative, bragging
Shanghai: arrogant, parsimonious
Shandong: straightforward, traditional, warm-hearted
Zhejiang: smart, business-oriented, wimpy
Sichuan: laid-back, hot girls, eating and playing
Hunan: hard working, talented, somehow violent
......
Well I didn't know about the stereotypes before going to China. But when I was in Shandong Province in general were open, friendly helpful to my colleagues and myself although we didn't speak Chinese. it was after I had been there for a while and had positive experiences that I found out that those experiences actually fit the local stereotype!
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Old 11-03-2014, 01:35 AM
 
Location: Guangzhou, China
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Hunan is stereotyped as having hot girls, too...
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Old 11-03-2014, 09:35 AM
 
6,725 posts, read 6,601,290 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 415_s2k View Post
Hunan is stereotyped as having hot girls, too...
Yes. However, my personal experience is, western Human and some parts of southern Hunan have pretty girls. Girls in Changsha, however, tend to have a square-shaped face with small eyes, not my type

Historically speaking, Sichuan was occupied by Sino-Tibetan tribes and Hunan was occupied by Miao (Hmong) tribes 4000 years ago. Miao tribes used to occupy much of central China.
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Old 11-03-2014, 02:56 PM
 
10,847 posts, read 11,255,922 times
Reputation: 7578
Quote:
Originally Posted by projectmaximus View Post
Hi guys, I would like some help in understanding the characteristics of the major cities in China. I was just realizing today that over the past few years I've subtly developed a bias against the Mainland...now that I am approaching middle age and have been seriously considering a move to Asia I find myself totally dismissing PRC when this certainly was not the case in my younger years. So while I really have no interest in living there, I would like to learn more about the cities in China.
most westerners have a bias again Chinese cities although they have never been there because the media exposure is primarily negative.

China is a gigantic country. Not all places are poor, not all cities are highly polluted and not every city is congested and crowded. Of course not every city is as shiny and efficient as Shanghai either.

I wish more people have this "I want to learn more about if before passing judgment and forming dismissive conclusions" attitude.

Quote:
Originally Posted by projectmaximus View Post
Are the major cities all rather similar besides climate? Obviously a few stand out like Shanghai and Beijing, but for the other dozens of areas between 5-10 million population are they kind of a blur or are most of them unique in some way? What are the special characteristics of each?

for comparisons sake: I have visited Beijing in '01 and '07, Shanghai in '01, Chengdu in '07, Shenzhen in '07, Zhongshan in '13 and '14. No other experiences in PRC.

Thanks!
Cities worth checking out you haven't mentioned include:

Xia'men, - smaller city with amazing natural backdrop, distinct dialect (minnan, same as Taiwan), highly livable
Hangzhou - ancient capital city, Scenic, beautiful West lake, very expensive (more so than Shanghai)
Suzhou, - one of the oldest cities in China, full of culture and well maintained architecture and famous Chinese gardens, yet surprising affordable
Nanjing - another ancient capital city with a lot of attractions including mountains, WII/Japanese invasion history,
Qingdao - old city with proximity to the sea and mountains. great seafood, old quarter with a German architecture/planning
Kunming - relaxed, city of Spring, center of the southwest, low cost
Xi'an - thousands of years of history, plenty of landmarks, with a lifestyle different from coastal cities

Shenzhen is a soulless city and one should never use that as a benchmark for China. Zhongshan is not that interesting either. Hardly anyone goes there to travel.
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