Recently, the cauldron of the 19th Asian Games will be lit in the Chinese eastern city Hangzhou where the globally famous West Lake is located. Forty major sports competitions will be staged, injecting passion and vitality into Hangzhou through thrilling performances.
Hangzhou has always been a city of vitality, an endowment from its rich history, fascinating culture and developed economy, as well as its creative transformation and innovative expression of these features.
A pioneering area since ancient times
Hangzhou was officially established during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) when China was unified the first time, but the region had a glorious history dated much earlier.
As early as 4300 to 5300 years ago, sophisticated rice farming was bred in Hangzhou, fine jade craft was developed, and Liangzhu culture, a representative culture in the late Neolithic Age, came into being. The archaeological ruins of Liangzhu ancient city has been rated as a world cultural heritage, and has become one of the largest and highest-level areas to demonstrate the long history of Chinese civilization that spans over 5,000 years.
This historical background, which runs through about 5,000 years, has continued its presence to this day. The design of the games' mascot "Congcong", medal "Shan Shui" and torch was inspired by the ritual vessel jade Cong in Liangzhu culture. The fire collection ceremony of the Asian Games was held in archaeological ruins of Liangzhu ancient city, and the external structure design of the fire collection device originated from the jade ring of Liangzhu. The splendid history has been reflected in a unique and creative design in Hangzhou.
The cultural taste for a better life
During the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 A.D.), Hangzhou reached the peak in the development history of ancient cities, cultivating a highly prosperous culture.
The urban, social and cultural legacies of the Song Dynasty impressed Marco Polo, a western explorer who visited Hangzhou in the later Yuan Dynasty and called Hangzhou "the City of Heaven, the most beautiful and magnificent in the world". The gorgeous, delicate and ingenious Song Dynasty culture is still vividly visible in Hangzhou thousands of years later.
Nowadays, more and more locals and tourists in Hangzhou enjoy experiencing the time-honored charming culture by visiting the Xiling Seal Art Society, tasting fragrant local tea, strolling the West Lake in the traditional attire of Song Dynasty, taking pictures at the red walls of the Deshou Palace ruins museum of the Southern Song Dynasty, and visiting the Hangzhou branch of the China National Archives of Publications and Culture, which was built after the style of famous Song Dynasty paintings.
In 2022, Hangzhou raked in a total tourism revenue of 129.8 billion yuan. Over the past decade, Hangzhou's cultural industry has maintained rapid development. In 2022, the added value of Hangzhou's cultural industry totaled 242 billion yuan, 2.5 percentage points higher than its GDP growth rate. It accounted for 12.9 percent of GDP, becoming an important pillar of economic development, according to the People's Government of Hangzhou Municipality.
An innovation-driven economic development
The southern end of China's Grand Canal, another world cultural heritage, starts from Hangzhou. In the canal's golden age, the flowing river water brought Hangzhou various products, food and clothing, customs and official etiquette from different parts of the country, making Hangzhou an important commercial distribution center and nourishing its focus on innovation.
Today, the development of the Internet and digital technology has replaced the river course of the Grand Canal, linking Hangzhou with all parts of China and the rest of the world. An expansive digital trade network has been established, facilitating the leapfrogging development of the digital economy.
Hangzhou is not only home to more than ten top 100 global digital trade enterprises such as Alibaba, Ant Group and Netease, but also hosts two-thirds of China's cross-border e-commerce export retail platforms and 70 percent of the national cross-border payment transactions. E-sports contests were included in the Asian Games for the first time, a vivid echo of the development of Hangzhou's digital economy.
After thousands of years, Hangzhou's vitality has not diminished at all. Looking to the future, this well-established and innovative city is expected to remain glamorously dynamic.
Source: The People's Government of Hangzhou Municipality