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Guangzhou’s stories of change since reform and opening up


On July 5th, over 20 representatives including entrepreneurs, artists and educators gathered at the Canton Tower and shared their stories of participating in Guangzhou’s reform and opening up.

They have witnessed the huge change in business environment, cultural environment, transportation, infrastructure, entrepreneurship, education and lifestyle of the city over the past 40 years.

In the early 80’s, China Hotel’s "PR ladies", the waterfall in the White Swan Hotel, Dong Fang Hotel’s music salon, and the “revolving restaurant” atop the Garden Hotel were the hallmarks of Guangzhou’s modernity and, which now are regarded as somewhat quaint.

Guangzhou has been one of China’s commercial capitals for thousands of years. Thanks to the reform and opening up, developed business culture and high-end local brands are emerging in this city.

Zeng Qinghong, the chairman of Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd has seen the growth of Guangzhou’s automobile industry.

China’s automobile industry was once looked down on, however, in March, 1999, the first domestic Accord (a vehicle model) was launched by GAC-Honda. The following year, production figures had exceeded 30,000.

In 2017, GAC Group’s production reached over 2 million vehicles, with a revenue of 350 billion RMB.

Guangzhou has not only created a prosperous market economy, but also cultivated a positive cultural atmosphere.

In the eyes of Zhong Weihe, the former president of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies and president of Huangpu Academy, the city has gradually developed into a modern international metropolis, pursuing higher cultural quality and global influence. Zhong said that, along with rapid economic development, Guangzhou has also attached importance to the cultural side of progress.

Liu Ying, director of Xinghai Concert Hall, shares a similar view. Cultural venues, including concert halls, theatres and museums reflect a city’s unique temperament. 20 years ago, the city constructed a world-class concert hall (Xinghai Concert Hall). It continues to host top orchestras, musicians, and conductors such as Vienna Flute Mozartet, Yuri Termikarnov.

The concert hall has attracted over 6 million visitors, 120,000 of whom are VIP members.

Guangzhou has set up a convenient and intelligent transportation network operating an ever increasing number of metro lines, and recently opening T2 at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.

In 1997, China Southern Airlines was the largest airline company in China with no more than 100 airplanes. “We only operated a few direct flights to nearby Asian countries like Korea, Japan and Thailand at that time,” said Wu Guoxiang, manager of marketing development at Southern Airlines.

By 2017, the company was operating over 750 planes and transporting more than 120 million passengers. It is now the largest airline in Asia and the fourth largest in the world.

Guangzhou is providing higher quality services across every aspect of daily life, and it isn’t just confined to activity inside the city:

“There are nearly 15,000 people from Guangzhou traveling around the world every day with our tour groups,” said Zhang Zhujun, the chairman of GZL Travel Services Ltd.

Reported by Will

Edited by Simon