What You Need To Know

Tianjin, formerly known in English as Tientsin, is a metropolis in northern coastal Mainland China, administered by the People’s Republic of China and one of the five national central cities of China, with a total municipal population of 15,469,500. It is governed as one of the four direct-controlled municipalities of the PRC and is thus under direct administration of the central government. Tianjin borders Hebei Province and Beijing Municipality, bounded to the east by the Bohai Gulf portion of the Yellow Sea. Part of the Bohai Economic Rim, it is the largest coastal city in northern China. In terms of urban population, Tianjin is the fourth largest in China, after Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. In terms of administrative area population, Tianjin ranks fifth in Mainland China. The walled city of Tianjin was built in 1404. As a treaty port since 1860, Tianjin has been a major seaport and gateway to Beijing. During the Boxer Rebellion the city was the seat of the Tianjin Provisional Government. Under the Ta-tsing Empire, and the Republic of China, Tianjin became one of the largest cities in the region. At that time, numerous European-style buildings and mansions were constructed in concessions, many of which are well-preserved today. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Tianjin suffered a depression due to the policy of the central government and Tangshan earthquake, but recovered from 1990s. Nowadays Tianjin is a dual-core city, with its main urban area (including the old city) located along the Hai River, which connects to the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers via the Grand Canal; and Binhai, a New Area urban core located east of the old city, on the coast of Bohai Sea. As of the end of 2010, around 285 Fortune 500 companies have set up base in Binhai, which is a new growth pole in China and is a hub of advanced industry and financial activity.

 

Area: 4,541 mi²

Population: Estimate 11, 611, 591

Currency

  • Renminbi, In English you can refer to the Chinese dollar. In Chinese it has 3 common names and 2 symbols in use: Renminbi 人民币 means People’s Currency and is abbreviated RMB (Renminbi). Yuan 元 means Dollar and is abbreviated CNY (Chinese Yuan).

Culture

A traditional Tianjin lunch of Goubuli Baozi
Traditional Opera in Tianjin

People from Tianjin speak the Tianjin dialect of Mandarin, from which it is derived. Despite its proximity to Beijing, the Tianjin dialect sounds quite different from the Beijing dialect, which provides the basis for Putonghua, the official spoken language of the People’s Republic of China. Tianjin is a respected home base of Beijing opera, one of the most prestigious forms of Chinese opera.

“Jingwei Tries to Fill the Sea” , the Dome Mural of Tianjin Railway Station Tianjin is famous for its stand up comedy and comedians including Guo Degang and Ma Sanli. Ma Sanli (马三立) (1914–2003), an ethnic Hui and longtime resident of Tianjin, is renowned for his xiangsheng (相声), a hugely popular form of Chinese entertainment similar to comedy. Ma Sanli delivered some of his xiangsheng in the Tianjin dialect. Tianjin, along with Beijing, is a center for the art of xiangsheng. Tianjin’s patented brand of stand-up also includes the use of rhythmic bamboo clappers “Kuaiban”. Yangliuqing (Green Willows), a town about 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Tianjin’s urban area and the seat of Xiqing District, is famous for its popular Chinese New Year-themed, traditional-style, colourful wash paintings (杨柳青年画). Tianjin is also famous for Zhang’s clay figurines which are a type of colourful figurine depicting a variety of vivid characters, and Tianjin’s Wei’s kites, which can be folded to a fraction of their full sizes, are noted for portability. On September 28, 2015, the Juilliard School in New York City announced a major expansion into Tianjin during a visit by China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan, the institution’s first such full-scale foray outside the United States, with plans to offer a master’s degree program.

Economy

Tianjin’s GDP reached 1.572 trillion yuan in 2014, an increase of 10.0 percent over 2013. The city of Tianjin recorded China’s highest per-capita GDP with $17,126, followed by Beijing with $16,278 and Shanghai with $15,847. The municipality recorded a 16.5% increase in GDP in 2009, second only to the 16.9% rate in resource-rich Inner Mongolia, and nearly double the national growth rate. In the short term, infrastructure spending will buoy Tianjin’s economy. There are substantial projects under way to extend the metro system and improve road and rail links with the nearby national capital, Beijing. Although the international financial crisis spread rapidly and the speed of world economy growth is slowing down, Tianjin economy still maintains at a steady and fast growing speed. In 2008, Tianjin’s total output value was RMB 635.438 billion, an increase of 16.5%, say RMB 130.398 billion increase over last year, the first time with an increase of exceeding RMB 100 billion. The total output value per capita in Tianjin was US$7,800, nearing the level of middle developed countries. Tianjin had realized a directly contracted foreign investment of up to $13.256 billion, an increase of 15.1%, and actual contributed capital of $7.420, increasing 40.6% year on year. So far Tianjin has had 21,048 companies with foreign investment, with accumulated foreign investment of $47.2 billion. At the same time, Tianjin is actively developing financial reform and innovation. The China Bohai Bank, the first national commercial bank limited by shares with headquarters in Tianjin, had set up six branches and 14 offices open to the public by the end of 2008. In March 2008, the national non-listed public companies equity exchange market (OTC) was established in Tianjin upon approval of the State Council.Tianjin has become the pilot city with the most industrial investment funds in China. The China National Private Equity Forum was held in Tianjin again, with approx. 500 investment companies and private fund institutions as well as about 2,000 growing enterprises involving in global capital circulation through this Capital Connection in Tianjin. Supported by the strong actual goods exchange, Tianjin takes futures industry development as a key part of its financial reform and innovation. In July 2008, the Yide Futures Broker Co. moved its headquarters to Tianjin. Tianjin Finance Town Project, North Jiefang Road as its axle, has been initiated. It will be built into a comprehensive, open and intellectual finance service area within ten years. Tianjin is transforming into a hub city for international shipping and logistics, modern manufacturing and research and development. Nominal GDP of Tianjin has swelled by 2.8 times from 184 RMB billion in 2001 to 505 RMB billion in 2007. Tianjin pillar industries are electronic information technology, automotive, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, metallurgy and petrochemicals industries. The new coastal area, consisting of Tianjin Port, Tianjin Economic and Technology Development Area and Tianjin Bonded area, has attracted numerous world-famous businesses like Motorola, Toyota and Samsung. Globalization and opening up of the economy to the rest of the world have brought about remarkable benefits to the economic growth of Tianjin. Government finance revenue of Tianjin increased by more than threefold from 16 RMB billion in 2001 to 54 RMB billion in 2007. As revenue rose, expenditure on science and technology, education, culture, health and sports followed suit as well, reaching 10 billion RMB in 2004, constituting to 30.7% of the city’s financial expenditure. Revenue has also been used in the building of infrastructure such as new roads, new bridges and commercial houses. One of the development objectives in the 11th Five year Plan is to have financial revenue growing at the rate of 16% annually.

 

Health systems

Cambodia’s population is approximately 8 million, with about 800,000 people living in the capital, Phnom Penh. Under Prince Norodom Sihanouk and the French, a basic but rudimentary health care system was in place. … During this period, the population of Phnom Penh swelled from about 25,000 to more than one million.

Industry

The manufacturing sector was the largest (54.8%) and fastest-growing (18.2%) sector of Tianjin’s economy in 2009. Major industries include petrochemical industries, textiles, car manufacturing, mechanical industries, and metalworking. EADS Airbus is an important manufacturer, and has opened an assembly plant for its Airbus A320 series airliners, operational since 2009. Tianjin also hit the news in 2010, as the current fastest supercomputer in the world, Tianhe-1A, is located at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin. GDP in 2009 hit ¥750.1 billion, with a per capita of RMB¥62,403.

 

Language

Khmer is the official language.

 

Martial arts

Together with Beijing, Tianjin had been for many centuries considered a center for traditional Chinese martial arts. Many past and present masters of arts such as Bajiquan, Pigua Zhang, Xing Yi Quan, Bagua Zhang and others lived or are living in the city. The districts most famous for martial arts in the city are Hong Qiao and Nankai, and martial artists abound in public green spaces such as Xigu Park and the Tianjin Water Park.

 

Measures to improve air quality

In May 2014, the city’s administration enacted new laws in an attempt to lower the city’s pollution levels. These measures included several restrictions on days of severe pollution; halving the number of vehicles allowed on roads, halting construction and manufacturing activity, closing schools, and halting large-scale outdoor activities.Foreign-born professional sportsmen have made statements regarding Tianjin’s air quality, citing it as an impediment to athletic activity and being thick enough to “taste”

 

Name

Tianjin is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese characters 天津, which mean “Heavenly Ford” or “Ford of Heaven”. The origin of the name is obscure. One folk etymology is that it was an homage to the patriotic Chu poet Qu Yuan, whose “Li Sao” includes the verse “…departing from the Ford of Heaven at dawn…” (朝发轫于天津兮, zhāo fārèn yú Tiānjīn xī). Another is that it honors a former name of the Girl, a Chinese constellation recorded under the name Tianjin in the Astronomical Record section of the Book of Sui. A third is that it derives from a place name noted in the River Record of the History of Jin. The most common is that it was bestowed by the Yongle Emperor of the Ming, who crossed Tianjin’s Gu River on his way south to overthrow his nephew the Jianwen Emperor.

 

Religion

Residents of Tianjin participate in indigenous religions, such as the veneration of the goddess Mazu. In addition, Tianjin has a Buddhist Temple of Great Compassion, a Catholic St. Joseph’s Cathedral (Laoxikai Church), a Catholic Our Lady of Victory Church (Wanghailou Church). A Roman Catholic Diocese of Tianjin exists. According to the Chinese General Social Survey of 2009, Christians constitute 1.51% of the city’s population. Tianjin has been described as a historically “strong center” of Islam in China. Northwestern Tianjin is traditionally the location of the Muslim quarter of the city, where they have lived for centuries near the city’s huge Great Mosque, Qingzhen si, founded in 1703. Other mosques include the Dahuoxiang Mosque.

 

Transport

Tianjin Binhai International Airport (IATA: ZBTJ) is located in the east of the urban area, in Dongli District, which is only 15 km (9 miles) to the east of the urban area. It is a second alternative to high-speed train, especially if wanting to reduce the added travel time and cost that comes associated with flying into Beijing — just some 120 km (75 miles) from Tianjin. The city will also be served by the new Beijing Daxing International Airport in Beijing, currently under construction and to be completed by 2017. Domestic routes include Changchun, Changsha, Changzhou, Chengdu, Chifeng, Dalian, Guangzhou, Guilin, Haikou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Hefei, Hohhot, Nanjing, Ningbo, Qingdao, Sanya, Shanghai-Hongqiao, Shanghai-Pudong, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Weihai, Wuhan, Xi’an, Xiamen, Yantai, Yuncheng, Zhengzhou, and Zhuhai. A few international routes are available, including Hiroshima, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur, Nagoya, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Taipei-Songshan, Tapei-Taoyuan, and Ulan Bator. However the destinations are far more than that, if Beijing Capital International Airport is taken into account, which is so near. Because the fairly short distance between the two cities, and bullet train service available, consider both cities as an arrival point.

Airport Shuttle Bus There are four routes, and the most expensive price is ¥25. No change is given on the bus, so make sure you have exact change for the fare. The Binhaiguojijichang metro station at the end of Line 2 goes directly to the airport and takes ~20 minutes from the central station.

New terminal and second runway

A new terminal was open in 2008. The airport expansion provides a state-of-the-art terminal building, which is more than three times bigger than the current one at 116,000 m2. When the three construction phases are complete the airport terminal will be over 500,000 m2 and be able to handle 40 million passengers a year. Over the period of the project the airport site will enlarge from the current 25 km² to 80 km². The airport as a whole will resemble Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in size and will be able to handle over 500,000 tons of cargo and 200,000 flights a year. The expansion, with a total investment of nearly ¥3 billion widened the runway to 75 meters from 50 meters and lengthened it to 3,600 meters. In May 2009, the airport has also completed the construction of a second runway, and the expected number of passengers will exceed 10 million.

By train

Tianjin Railway Station is the largest station in the city. It was first built in 1888 and then rebuilt in 1988. The station was again renovated in 2008 in preparation for the Olympic Games. Tianjin North is another railway stations in the urban area. Tanggu station serves the seaside district of the same name. Tianjin West and Tianjin South stations serve bullet trains to Shanghai, while Tianjin West is within the urban area, Tianjin South is a further away from the city center. Tianjin railway station is open for the bullet train to Beijing South train station. One-way tickets are ¥55 for Economy, ¥66 for Business, or ¥94 for VIP. The bullet train designation is a ‘C’ and takes about 33 minutes, travelling up to 300 km/h. Some C-series trains make a stop in Wuqing, which adds 5 more minutes to the trip. There are shuttle buses between Tianjin railway station and Tianjin airport. A ticket costs ¥15 per trip. It stops about 200 m from the train station northern gate (back gate). When alighting from the shuttle bus, just walk along the pavement and you will reach the train station. Should you choose to take taxi, use the official taxi stand (just follow the signage). The taxi fare from Tianjin railway station to Tianjin airport is about ¥50-65. It is not advisable to use any of the touts that offer taxi services. The official taxi stand has plenty of taxis. If leaving the station by taxi, be prepared for a production-line approach to getting the punters into taxis. Marshals keep the queue moving so have baggage ready to stow and a destination in mind or possibly be forced to go to the back of the line and wait your turn again. Tianjin South Railway Station handles some of the high-speed rail service to Shanghai. However, it is not near the city centre. There are some bus routes from the South Railway Station to the city, and the taxis are predominantly of the illegal variety, so plan accordingly. The recently renovated Tianjin West Station also handles the high-speed rail service to Shanghai. It can be reached via Tianjin Metro Line 1. Tianjin South serves as an intermediate station for bullet trains between Beijing South and Shanghai Hongqiao. Tianjin West is not located on the main line, but as a termini for trains between Tianjin West and Shanghai Hongqiao. The Tianjin Railway Station is also locally called the ‘East Station’, due to its geographical position. In January 2007, the station began another long-term restructuring project to modernize the facility and as part of the larger Tianjin transport hub project involving Tianjin Metro lines 2, 3, and 9 as well as the Tianjin-Beijing High-speed rail. Tianjin West Railway Station and Tianjin North Railway Station are also major railway stations in Tianjin. There is also Tanggu Railway Station is located in the important port area of Tanggu District, and TEDA Railway Station located in TEDA, to the north of Tanggu. There are several other railway stations in the city that do not handle passenger traffic. Construction on a Beijing-Tianjin high-speed rail was completed by August 2008.

The following rail lines go through Tianjin:

Tianjin West Railway Station, Jingshan Railway, from Beijing to Shanhai Pass Jinpu Railway, from Tianjin to Pukou District, Nanjing Jinji Railway, from Tianjin urban area to Ji County, Tianjin Jinba Railway, from Tianjin to Bazhou, Hebei Starting from Aug. 1, 2008, all trains stopping at the previous Tianjin Temporary Passenger Station will now instead use the newly completed Tianjin Railway Station.

Also, the inter-city trains between Beijing and Tianjin will adopt a new numbering system: Cxxxx (C stands for interCity.). The train numbers range between C2001~C2298:

C2001~C2198: From Beijing South Station to Tianjin, non-stop. C2201~C2268: From Beijing South Station to Tianjin, with stops at Wuqing Station (武清站) or Yizhuang Station (亦庄站); C2271~C2298: From Beijing South Station to Tanggu Station of Tianjin. The new C trains take only 30 min between Beijing and Tianjin, cutting the previous D train time by more than a half. The ticket price (as of Aug 2008) is ¥69 for the first-class seat and ¥58 for the second-class seat.

By car

Some spots in Tianjin, including roads and bridges, have names from Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Three Principles of the People (for example, Minquan Gate on Zhonghuan Road). Names harkening back to the era of the Republic of China on the mainland also appear (e.g. Beiyang Road). Many roads in Tianjin are named after a Chinese province or city. Also, Tianjin is unlike Beijing, in that very few roads run parallel to the major four compass directions. Tianjin has three ring roads. Unlike Beijing, the Inner and Middle Ring Roads are not closed, traffic-controlled roadways and some often have traffic light intersections. The Outer Ring Road is the closest thing to a highway-level ring road, although traffic is often chaotic and sometimes more than chaotic.

By bus

Tianjin is well connected with other cities via bus. The price from Beijing is about ¥30. There are also two school bus lines linking Nankai and Tianjin Universities and Tsinghua University. They depart daily at 3:45PM and 4:45PM from Tsinghua’s North-West Gate.

By boat

Tianjin is connected to Dalian as well Incheon, South Korea, by passenger boat. Kobe, Japan – is served by a weekly China Express Line  ferry, departing Kobe at 11:00 on Fridays and arriving in Tianjin at 14:00 on Sundays. It takes 51 hours to do the nearly 2,000 km (1,242 mi) crossing between the two cities. Tianjin Office Tel.:+86 22-2420-5777 The port is named Xingang (新港), which is about 45 km east to downtown Tianjin. The district Xingang located is named Tanggu. Tianjin Metro Line 9 (also known as the Light Rail by locals) connects Tanggu to downtown Tianjin. A train ride from Tanggu or TEDA metro stations to Tianjin’s central railway station takes 40 minutes. There is also a few direct high-speed trains serve Tanggu Railway Station every day, make a stop in Tianjin’s central station before continue to Beijing South. A single trip from Tanggu to Beijing South Station takes just under an hour. Both Tanggu metro station and railway station are about 15 minutes away from the sea port by cab and should not cost you more than ¥20–¥30 by meter.

Get around

By bus

Founded in 1904, the Tianjin bus system was the first in China, and the metro was second in the nation (1970) and today the city is well served by public transportation. Within the city, traveling on a bus line that is less than 12 km (7 mi) will cost ¥1.5, while ¥1 will cover a journey on any line over 12 km, even if you travel less than 12 km (7 mi) but on a line that is over this distance, the cost is still ¥1. It’s well worth your time to look up popular bus routes. Buses are comfortable and clean.

By taxi

Taxis are abundant. The minimum cost for 3 kilometers is ¥8 (plus ¥1 mandatory fuel surcharge), and ¥1.7 per kilometer thereafter. Taxis also charge for the time while the vehicle is stationary at ¥1.7 for every five minutes (cost is exempt for less than five minutes). It is strongly recommended to avoid taxis not waiting in the proper queue at popular places for tourists (such as a railway station). See note in the Get in-By train section above about how to avoid train station taxis. The same advice applies at tourist stops, it is best to walk a few blocks to a regular street to catch a metered taxi. Ride with illegal taxis at your own risk. There are Tianjin tourist maps with destinations written in Chinese characters and English. Pointing at where you want to go will get you a long way with taxi drivers. It might be a good idea to take a magnifying glass along as many of the drivers have trouble with the small font. You can rent a taxi driver for the day or even for just a few hours. The drivers are happy to wait, and the cost for two hours would be less than ¥100. Another caution about taxis is that there are toll roads in some parts of China. In a taxi, you will be expected to pay the base fare plus the toll fee. The driver pays the toll and receives a receipt at the toll booth. At your destination, you ask for the receipt(s) and pay that amount plus the base fare. If you are going a long way, you may also be asked to pay for the return toll fee. That is a legitimate request, although you could argue that the driver will pick up another fare to pay for the toll anyway. You may or may not succeed with the driver. Tipping isn’t common practice, as in most Chinese cities.

By metro

Tianjin Metro and Binhai Mass Transit

Tianjing Metro is operated by two differing companies. In all, there are four lines (1, 2, 3, and 9. There is also a tram, the TEDA Modern Guided Rail Tram.

Tourism

The city has many sights; its streetscapes – an assemblage of historic nineteenth – and early twentieth-century European architecture, juxtaposed with the concrete and glass monoliths of contemporary China – are its most engrossing attraction. Though wide swaths of the city are being redeveloped, much of the colonial architecture has been placed under protection, and the shopping opportunities, especially for antiques, just about justify a day-trip from the capital, an hour away by train. In the nineteenth century, the port city caught the attention of the seafaring Western powers, who used the boarding of a British ship by Chinese troops as an excuse to declare war. With well-armed gunboats, they were assured of victory, and the Treaty of Tianjin, signed in 1856, gave the Europeans the right to establish nine concessionary bases on the mainland, from which they could conduct trade and sell opium. These concessions, along the banks of the Hai River, were self-contained European fantasy worlds: the French built elegant châteaux and towers, while the Germans constructed red-tiled Bavarian villas. Tensions between the indigenous population and the foreigners exploded in the Tianjin Incident of 1870, when a Chinese mob attacked a French-run orphanage, and again during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, after which the foreigners levelled the walls around the old Chinese city to enable them to keep an eye on its residents. The dense network of ex-concession streets south and west of the central train station, and south of the Hai River, now constitute the areas of most interest to visitors. Unmistakable are the châteaux of the French concession, which now make up the downtown district just south of the river, and the haughty mansions the British built east of here. Farther east, also south of the river, the architecture of an otherwise unremarkable district has a sprinkling of stern German constructions.

Weather

Tianjin features a four-season, monsoon-influenced climate, typical of East Asia, with cold, windy, very dry winters reflecting the influence of the vast Siberian anticyclone, and hot, humid summers, due to the monsoon. Spring in the city is dry and windy, occasionally seeing sandstorms blowing in from the Gobi Desert, capable of lasting for several days. The monthly 24-hour average temperature ranges from −3.4 °C (25.9 °F) in January to 26.8 °C (80.2 °F) in July, with an annual mean of 12.90 °C (55.2 °F). With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 48% in July to 61% in October, the city receives 2,522 hours of bright sunshine annually. Having a low annual total precipitation of 511 millimetres (20.1 in), and nearly three-fifths of it occurring in July and August alone, the city lies within the semi-arid zone, with parts of the municipality being humid continental (Köppen Dwa/BSk, respectively). Extreme temperatures have ranged from −22.9 °C (−9 °F) to 40.5 °C (105 °F).

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