Beijing is the most beautiful city in China and Hong Kong the safest and second most beautiful, according to a study by the China Institute of City Competitiveness.
The capital came in ahead of 558 other mainland cities and the two Special Administrative Regions (SARs), with a score of 0.756 points out of one for its impressive historical monuments and tourist attractions.
Gui Qiangfang, the institute's chairman, said: "The capital has a rich history and culture, which have been key to its development."
The assessment took into consideration the cities' urban design, infrastructure, architecture, culture and natural beauty.
Factors including the preservation of historical monuments, forest coverage, air quality, the transportation network, city life, public space and GDP were also considered.
Hong Kong, which ranked second with 0.666 points, won praise for its skyscrapers, Victoria Harbor and the development of its service industry.
Shenzhen took third spot with 0.664 points, scoring highly for its role as the pioneer of China's opening up and reform policies.
Shanghai finished fourth with 0.663 points for being the country's financial center.
In the voting for the safest city, which assessed the social, economic and ecological development, Hong Kong came first with 0.849 points.
In this category, the cities' crime rates, stability of financial policies, authority of the government, industrial accident rate, food safety and pollution situation, were considered.
The institute said Hong Kong had low crime, and the number of work-related casualties is only 18.4 per 1,000 workers last year.
The SAR also attracted $42.7 billion foreign investment last year, up 19 percent on 2005.
Its "level playing field" and free-trade policies had attracted investors, the institute said.
Shanghai ranked second in the safe city poll with 0.712 points, followed by Nanjing with 0.666 points.
The institute said Shanghai is developing a harmonious society ahead of the 2010 World Expo.
(China Daily September 11, 2007)