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    On business in Beijing
    A blueprint for brilliant business travel in the Chinese capital
    Credit: Colin Qu
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    Home to some 22 million people, Beijing really puts the ‘mega’ into megacity. Once the seat of emperors ruling from the vast central palace complex known as the Forbidden City, contemporary Beijing is a powerhouse for innovation, home to tech giants like Baidu and Bytedance (creator of TikTok), about half of the Chinese Mainland’s unicorn start-ups (companies with a value of over US$1 billion), and the country’s most prestigious universities. Here’s our guide to getting the most out of China’s capital on your next work trip. 


    Although its city walls were demolished in the 20th century, central Beijing has retained its compass-perfect Ming dynasty design, with the Forbidden City at the centre. Most business is done in high-rise areas like Guomao, Beijing’s Central Business District (CBD), five metro stops east of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The CBD is where you’ll find architectural wonders like the CCTV Tower, nicknamed “big pants”, and China Zun, Beijing’s tallest skyscraper at 528m. A quick cab ride north, Sanlitun is Beijing’s embassy district and the go-to for nightlife and international dining.

    Nine kilometres west, Financial Street (Jinrong Jie) is home to many Chinese and international financial institutions. Further afield, Zhongguancun, once a shopping area selling computer parts, is now better known as China’s Silicon Valley for its hive of start-ups. It’s a short hop from the Unesco-listed Summer Palace, a landscaped retreat of the Qing emperors and one of China’s most beautiful sights.  

    Beijing travel

    Credit: Getty Images

    Beijing travel
    Beijing travel

    Where to take clients

    Guomao’s vast upscale China World Mall hosts client-friendly hotspots like Migas Mercado , serving authentic Mediterranean tapas and imported wines with superb skyline views. 

    For classic Peking duck, Duck de Chine is the connoisseur’s choice, boasting sumptuous private rooms and an attached Bollinger champagne bar. With several branches around the city, Siji Minfu is a local favourite, though be prepared to queue for a table.

    Financial Street is home to two first-rate Michelin-starred Chinese restaurants: Xin Rong Ji , which specialises in seafood from southern China, and Furong (inside The Westin Beijing Financial Street ), serving aromatic Hunanese dishes.

    Beijing’s trio of homegrown craft beer brands – Great Leap , Slow Boat and Jing-A – each has its own brewpub. All three follow a similar blueprint (pale ales, IPAs and double cheeseburgers). Order a tasting flight and decide which is best. 


    Where to stay

    Guomao is a hub for business-minded luxury hotels like Park Hyatt Beijing , which has its lobby up on the 63rd floor of Beijing Yintai Centre. Loftier still is China World Summit Wing , a Shangri-La property occupying the upper floors of Beijing’s second-tallest tower. A picture of discreet elegance, the hotel lobby feels more like a private members club. Next door, Jen Beijing tones down the cigar-and-cognac vibes in favour of design-led rooms, a huge 24-hour gym, co-working spaces and even a microbrewery restaurant.

    Though generally more low-key than Guomao, Financial Street has a Ritz-Carlton and a Westin property in the neighbourhood, two long-standing options for business travellers.  

    What to say

    With football being a global language, you could ask your Beijing colleagues about the newly rebuilt Workers’ Stadium, which recently welcomed back the local team, Beijing Guoan, for its first match there in more than three years. Another tip: nothing gets to the heart of Chinese passions more than food, so any interest you show in the topic will be reciprocated many times over.


    What to know

    Business in Beijing is done as much around the banqueting table as it is in the boardroom. Lavish, multi-course meals are a common means of building guanxi (relationships). Be prepared for toasts, typically using baijiu – a potent spirit made from sorghum – though often red wine will be a lighter option. If you don’t drink, join in with water or a soft drink. 

    Business cards are still just about relevant (having bilingual cards is ideal). Remember to give and receive cards with both hands and to take a few seconds to read your counterpart’s card before pocketing it. It’s a good idea to download WeChat (Weixin), a multifunctional social media and chat app used by everybody in China. For more information on what you need to prepare before travelling to China, check out our handy guide.

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    What to do in your free time

    Execs short on time will need a strategy to get the best from Beijing. Skip the vast and energy-sapping Forbidden City in favour of the much smaller but no less magnificent Yonghe Temple, home to an astonishing 18m statue of Buddha carved from a single piece of sandalwood. 

    If you only have time to visit one place, catch a cab to Jingshan Park in the heart of the city. One of Beijing’s few hills (despite being manmade several centuries ago) gives gobsmacking views of the Forbidden City.

    What to buy as souvenirs

    The Hongqiao Pearl Market beside the Temple of Heaven is a great place to scoop up classic souvenirs like tea and mahjong sets, silk scarves and ink scroll paintings; be sure tohaggle for the best price. For something special, visit the boutiques and concept stores along Guozijian, a historic area of traditional courtyard residences.


    More inspiration

    Beijing travel information