Is China's longtime 'Bei-Shang-Guang-Shen' order about to change?
It’s a question that’s received a fair amount of attention ever since the 19th Party Congress memorial stamp was released last week, which features Hangzhou – not Guangzhou – alongside first-tier veterans Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
The commemorative stamp set was released by China’s State Post Bureau on October 18 – the same day National Congress sessions commenced in Beijing. Hundreds lined up outside post offices starting from midnight before the release to be the first to get their hands on the collector's item.
While it’s still unclear why Guangzhou wasn’t included on the stamp, an article published in the Hong Kong Economic Journal this week claims it may be because the city is “losing some of its luster,” as the biannual Canton Fair grows less attractive in light of the rise of e-commerce.
Hangzhou, meanwhile – home of China’s Internet giant Alibaba – has distinguished itself as a “symbol of the new economy,” according to the article. Though it still ranks below Guangzhou in terms of GDP, Hangzhou has maintained a GDP growth rate of 10 percent for the last two years, compared with about 8 percent in Guangzhou.
Chinese netizens have responded by questioning why it’s imperative Guangzhou be included at all, arguing: “Given the themes of this year’s stamp (‘build a dream,’ ‘continue moving forward,’ etc.), it’s not essential to have the image of Guangzhou represented.”
Stamp controversy aside, the past year has been a positive one for Guangdong’s capital city, which was selected to host the Fortune Global Forum this December, the World Route Development Forum next year, the World Ports Conference in 2019 and the prestigious Metropolis World Congress in 2020.
Maybe the new memorial stamp is a harbinger of Guangzhou’s future standing in China, or maybe, it’s just a stamp. Regardless, you can bet the speculations will continue for some time – at least until China Post unveils its next series.
[Cover image via ejinsight.com]