Beijing: Unique Among China’s Cities

Editor’s note: This year, we are praying for cities across China. We begin our year by praying for Beijing, China’s capital city. To help us pray wisely and specifically, Melody, a pastor’s wife, shared with us some of the things that make her city special. She also opened up about some of the challenging situations Beijing has faced over the past several years, and how she feels the general mood in the city is more pessimistic than previously.

This is the first of a two-part interview.


The Political Center of China

China Partnership: How is Beijing unique among China’s cities? What are some of the things that make Beijing different from other cities?

There are several reasons! First, because Beijing was the capital of many dynasties. It has been the seat of the emperor for a long time, and has a lot of political history and culture. The people in Beijing have a strong intuition about politics and management, and the people feel honored to be those who live near to the king.

The political center of China is in Beijing, so naturally, a lot of economic arrangements focus on this political center. Businesses, infrastructure groups, transportation companies, and the medical system all put their best resources in Beijing. Because of this, many Chinese people dream of working in Beijing. In Beijing, there is a lot of opportunity, people have a fair chance to make it. If they live in Beijing and work hard, everyone can have a good quality of life. Beijing is a place where many people come to realize their dreams.

Beijing is a place where many people come to realize their dreams.

As far as faith goes, Beijing is also special. There are many opportunities available here. Beijing has good schools, hospitals, and companies, so church membership is made up of high-level intellectuals who are generally well-educated. The church in Beijing is a hub for the whole country, and is a wealth of spiritual resources. Overseas groups prioritize Beijing, and good theological resources from other countries can often be found here. There are seminaries, and Beijing is often the first one to receive theological education opportunities. There is more room for deep thought and reflection, and the city is able to make good use of these resources.

The transportation situation is also very unique here. Beijing is geographically in the north of China, but there are also more provinces further to the north. Beijing has quick connections to all major cities throughout the country. Not only is Beijing the first place to go for fun, to see a doctor, or to conduct business – it is also easily accessible from all directions. Within China, Beijing is a transit point and a necessary route.

Finally, Beijing is a diverse city with a population of about 20 million, more than half of whom were not originally from the city. A lot of basic jobs within the city are done by people who came to Beijing from other cities within China. These people are happy to be a part of developing Beijing, because they want to have a Beijing hukou [residence card].

Beijing is a diverse city with a population of about 20 million, more than half of whom were not originally from the city.

People Are Less Optimistic

CP: How Beijing has changed in the last five years? Describe some of the changes you have seen during this time period.

Melody: There is a large population of people who serve the city of Beijing. Many people from other areas of China come here to work as construction workers and cleaners and to do other basic jobs. At the end of 2017, something happened: the Beijing municipal government ordered the expulsion of the “low-end” population. Overnight, about five million people left the city and returned to their hometowns. Since then, Beijing has become very much like North Korea. Beijing only favors the “high-end” of the population. A lot of the low-end people left at that time. Beijng has been affected by this, and it is harder and harder to find people to do the basic service jobs. Because the city is not very welcoming to these lower status people, it is not a good place for them to make a living.


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In the last few years, there has been another significant change: universities have begun to move their educational resources out of Beijing and into Xiong’an [a city in Hebei Province, about 100 kilometers outside of Beijng]. These universities have only kept their offices in Beijing, while moving all their operations to the city of Xiong’an. This has led to a lot of businesses moving out of Beijing, and relocating to Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Third, the church in the city has been undergoing many changes over the past five years. Early Rain [a prominent house church in Chengdu] was raided in the end of 2018. In 2021, house churches in Beijing also entered a period of turbulence. Many churches have been affected. A few years ago, my own church was impacted. Our church has been fighting the charges against us in the judicial system, and disputes the judgment against us.

More and more friends are becoming unemployed. And although others till have their jobs, it feels as though they are earning less  while working more. People are spending more cautiously than before, and  in general are more pessimistic about the environment.

The “zero Covid” policy of the last few years has also affected the lives of many Beijing people. Over this time, many people had their dreams dashed and lost their jobs. During the initial epidemic management period, Beijing was quite stable [from about spring of 2020 through fall of 2022]. But after that, Beijing entered a more difficult period, and the economy has been greatly affected. From a personal point of view, it seems like more and more friends are becoming unemployed. And although others till have their jobs, it feels as though they are earning less and less while working more and more hours. It seems that people are spending more cautiously than before, and that people in general are more pessimistic about the environment.

Finally, the emotional state of people around us has become less and less optimistic. Even after the “zero Covid” blockade was lifted, people still continue to feel a lot of pressure from work. Many people feel pessimistic and powerless.


Melody (a pseudonym) lives in Beijing. She has a warm family of five which includes her husband, two children, and her mother-in-law. She is a pastor’s wife, and a favorite hobby is plaza dancing.

Pray for Beijing citizens who are struggling to make ends meet and to find hope in a generally discouraging atmosphere.

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Further Reading

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The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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Qingdao: How to Pray
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Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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