LIANYUNGANG, CHINA - DECEMBER 08:  (CHINA OUT) Buildings are shrouded in smog on December 8, 2013 in Lianyungang, China. Heavy smog has been lingering in northern and eastern parts of China since last week, disturbing the traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools.  (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

Beijing Residents Scoff After City Named China’s Most Livable

Pollution alone should rule it out, netizens say

A list naming Beijing as the 69th “most livable” city in the world has attracted both disagreement and ridicule from Chinese netizens.

Compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (“EIU”), the list ranks global cities on a “livability index” of 30 factors, including safety, healthcare, education, infrastructure and environment. Melbourne, Australia scored the top spot as the world’s most lovable city, followed by Adelaide (Australia), Sydney (Australia), Perth (Australia), Vancouver (Canada), Toronto (Canada), Calgary (Canada), Vienna (Austria), Helsinki (Finland), and Auckland (New Zealand).

Chinese don’t take issue with the selection of the top ten, or even that Beijing snagged the 69th spot. Rather, Chinese have a problem with the fact that Beijing rose five spots from last year to be named the “best” city to live in mainland China.

Netizens largely cited the capital’s notorious pollution record as the primary reason for rejecting the idea of Beijing as “livable”. Beijing started 2015 with a better air pollution record than the year before; but, by July, it was once again included on China’s top ten list for most polluted cities.

“Beijing is our most livable city? They must be joking. Maybe for someone functioning without lungs,” remarked Guangdong Weibo user, Liew Jia Kit. Another Weibo user said, “Pollution everyday? This must be dark humor.”

Others on Weibo didn’t think the EIU understood China whatsoever. Weibo user Xiang Xueyee said, “Let me tell you all a joke: Chinese cities are among the most livable in the world,” while another said, “Don’t take this list seriously. The men who made it probably never lived in China.”

Equally surprising to netizens was the list’s inclusion of Tianjin as the second-most livable city in mainland China. With the August 12 explosions still weighing on people’s minds, Chinese were understandably skeptical. One user wrote, “How did Tianjin even make the list? Where were the surveyors last week? Mars?” while another said, “Devastation aside, transportation in Tianjin is terrible! What a strange choice.”

According to the annual report, the reason behind the good showing of Beijing, and other Chinese cities, on the list was “largely due to a lower threat from civil unrest”. Suzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dalian, Guangzhou and Qingdao also made the list.

A similar list compiled by the China Institute of City Competitiveness came up with rather different results. Based on seven major indexes including environmental health, urban safety, economy strength, civilization and reputation, the list named Shenzhen as its most livable city, followed by fellow Pearl River Delta entry Zhuhai.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor