Another area of high growth is services, including education, transportation, finance and information technology. Last year, the tertiary sector accounted for 60 per cent of Beijing's GDP, a ratio on a par with Shanghai but far behind the economies of Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo.
One promising service sector is tourism, especially domestic tourism. Many Chinese visitors came to Beijing during the three recently extended public holidays: the Spring Festival in February, Labour Day in May and the National Holiday in October. Inbound tourism is likely to grow strongly too, thanks to the publicity generated by the Olympic Games. Last year, Beijing received 2.8m inbound tourists.
Another pillar of growth is foreign investment, which in 2001 rose 33 per cent year-onyear to US$4.1bn in contracted value. Beijing may not be as popular as Shanghai or Shenzhen as an investment destination, but it enjoys a good share of the action. Recent investments include Wal-Mart's US$25m plan to open five retail outlets, Hyundai's joint venture with Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation to build 200,000 automobiles by 2005 and Nokia's US$1.2bn, 50-hectare industrial park inside Beijing Economic Technological Development Area.
Beijing is not the most efficient place to do business in China, but companies, both for eign and domestic, keep coming because of its strategic importance. "Many Chinese CEOs spend one third of their time in the capital because important decisions and information flow from here," says JP Huang, a Beijing- based businessman with a string of ventures nationwide.
The city is a magnet not only for businessmen, but also for ordinary Chinese who flock to it every day. Despite its dust, traffic jams and rising house prices, Beijing is popular with young peasants seeking work as well as with Western-educated professionals returning home in search of a fortune. Beggars and hawkers are also determined to stick it out, despite being constantly chased away by the police. "I don't want to go back home to Henan," says a young man selling pirated CDs outside the Friendship Store in downtown Beijing. "I can't make enough ploughing a small plot of land. Here I have a chance to make some good money."