Wangjing, located on the northeast of Beijing and near the Beijing International Airport, is home to not only 80,000 South Koreans, but also a series of well-known internet startups, including Alibaba, Momo, Uber, MeiTuan, etc. To some extent, it has already become the second center of the Chinese internet industry (after Zhongguancun).
However, Wangjing seems to be rather more elegant and modern than Zhongguancun, which is actually known for its grassroots nature. As a matter of fact, it is very difficult for find a chunk of land as large as Wangjing in Beijing. Some people referred to Wangjing as a self-sufficient “mini-city”, because almost everything can be done within the area: from living, shopping, eating, commuting to working, etc. In TMTpost Photo Gallery 023, we’ve already focused our attention on the Shangdi area, a mini city for computer programmers and engineers inside Beijing. This time, let’s get on a tour with TMTpost and find another mini city in Beijing.
At one of the entries to Wangjing area, there is a statue consisting of a mother panda and her baby panda eating bamboo. Completed in 2012, the statue is actually one of the symbols of Wangjing. When the statue was first erected, there was even a heated discussion over if the statue is appropriate enough to be Wangjing’s symbol. At that time, officials from Wangjing sub-district administrative office commented that: “One of the main functions of the statue is to show the direction for drivers, since most streets and avenues in Wangjing area are oblique. In addition, pandas are one of the national symbols of China, so the image of a panda is always vivid and very easy for visitors at home and abroad to remind themselves of Wangjing.” However, some drivers pointed out that these two pandas might actually jeopardize the local traffic, saying that: “The base of the statue is too high and non-transparent, so when drivers go through this area, there could be a blind zone to the left front side, which might pose threat to drivers’ safety.”
It was July, 14th, 2016, Wangjing Greenland Center. Two workers were cleaning the glass curtain wall of Alibaba Beijing Headquarters, which is still in the trial run stage. This is the first office building Alibaba acquired outside of Hangzhou. Alibaba’s logo, hung on top of the building, is gradually becoming one of the new symbols of Wangjing. 19 years has passed since Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, and his founding partners went to Beijing and looked for opportunities. How time flies.
Real estate agents for office buildings were looking for potential renters. “Among all the office buildings, Wangjing Soho is the most popular,” a real estate agent told TMTpost. After Wangjing Soho was completed in 2014, a series of internet startups chose to move to the office building. Around this June and July, as the two-year lease is to expire, these startups have to decide whether to renew the lease or not. This is also the time when real estate agents are the busiest throughout the year.
When you see the Wangjing area from the map, you might easily find that the core area of Wangjing looks like an Android robot, and Wangjing Soho is located right on the head of the “robot”. The lowest rental price per square meter and per day was RMB 4 two yeas ago, but has risen to RMB 6 to RMB 10 now. Momo, which rents two stories and over 5,000 square meters, is definitely the best-known internet startup in Wangjing Soho.
Mr. Xuan had lived in Wangjing for over six years. Currently, he worked in a construction consulting company targeting mainly South Korean and Japanese clients. “Our lease has expired, but the proprietor decides to raise the rental price from RMB 5.8 to RMB 8 per square meters per day. We have no choice but to leave Wangjing,” he told TMTpost. The first batch of South Koreans came to Wangjing in 1997, and gradually Wangjing is known as a “South Korean city”. Among a resident population of over 300,000 in Wangjing, eight per cent are South Koreans. “There are lots of South Koreans and food here, and life’s very convenient, but the rental price is always on the rise. So many of my South Korean friends have already moved to suburban Beijing, such as Shunyi District,” he complained to TMTpost.
Catherine Lee (the person to the right of the picture) is a Cambridge graduate and used to work for Goldman Sachs. After having several rounds of conversation with the architect Zaha Hadid and being inspired by her design, she chose to base her own fashion consulting startup in Wangjing Soho, which was designed exactly by Zaha Hadid.
“Scan Street” is another symbol of Wangjing. Rumor has it that as long as you go through the “Scan Street”, you don’t need to worry about what to eat and drink for a week. Many offline promotion specialists chose to set up their stand and promote their O2O brands on this street because people working in Wangjing Soho have to pass the street in order to have lunch and these people know the internet well, and know exactly what they are promoting. For a while, this street was even referred to as the center of the Chinese O2O industry. However, the street is no longer as crowded and packed as it used to be.
It was July, 14th, Focus International Center. Dai Mingzhi (to the left of the picture), the co-founder of the smart radio maker AirSmart, was discussing with his colleague. The startup just moved from a smaller office at Focus International Center. “Wangjing is pretty much self-sufficient. People and live ,work and get their kids educated entirely within Wangjing. Moreover, it’s very convenient to go to CBD and Zhongguancun from Wangjing, and the traffic inside Wangjing is not at all heavy. The only problem that it could be really hard to enter or leave Wangjing, due to the heavy traffic at the entry of Wangjing. If you want to start your own company in Wangjing, you’d better move your family to Wangjing to save time,” he explained.
It was July, 15th. The traffic was so heavy from Wangjing Street to Dashanzi. Dashanzi, known as one of the famous traffic jam spots in Beijing, links not only Wangjing and Jiuxianqiao area, but also Wangjing and the airport.
It was July, 15th, Beijing Posco Center. Workers were soon going to finish decorating the office of internet celebrity nurturing platform Internet Star Dream Maker. The office, covering over 1,000 square meters, will enable the company to mass-nurture new internet celebrities, from finding to training and promoting them.
A chunk of land next to Wangjing Soho remains undeveloped. According to Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning, the government planned to establish a hospital on this land covering around 4.7 hectares as early as 2013. “Local residents are having problem getting treatment in Wangjing, so we decided to establish a comprehensive medical facility that can accommodate over 800 patients,” the construction company responded to local residents’ inquiry in an open report.However, it seems that the project was suspended for some reason. Compared to office buildings, residential communities springing up one after another, this hospital project is still in embryo.
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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @flybutchery, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.