The renowned scenic city of Hangzhou is making efforts to restore its past glory as the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).
Tourists walking around streets in the capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province can experience a strong ambience of Song culture.
Hangzhou, 200 kilometers west of Shanghai, has built a theme park called "Song Town," where tourists can learn about the daily life of a Song Dynasty resident.
Several streets have been transformed into Song-style routes, and restaurants with attendants dressed in Song-style clothes serve customers such dishes as Dongpo pork and Songsao yugeng, which were popular during the Song Dynasty. The city is clearly immersed in the culture and lifestyle of that period.
With a population of more than 1 million, Hangzhou was the largest city in the country during the Southern Song Dynasty. Today's Hangzhou remains an important economic and cultural center of East China.
Last year, Hangzhou's gross domestic product hit 138 billion yuan (US$16.7 billion), ranking the city's economic growth second among all of China's provincial capitals.
But for the 6-million-plus local people who are aiming at restoring the city's ancient glory, that growth is far from enough.
The local government has already mapped out an ambitious blueprint for the city's future development.
Earlier this year, Hangzhou annexed two neighboring county-level cities - Yuhang and Xiaoshan. The new Hangzhou has become a large metropolitan area second only to the country's biggest industrial and commercial center Shanghai in the Yangtze River Delta area.
Hosting the West Lake Expo, a tradition dating back to 1929, is another measure of the city's influence. The 137-day event held 72 years ago was the first of its kind in the history of modern China and enjoyed equal popularity with similar events held in Chicago and Paris.
Last year, the city picked up the tradition and sponsored the West Lake Expo 2000. It attracted 5.74 million visitors and 16 billion yuan (US$1.9 billion) in investment.
(China Daily October 29, 2001)