Every community has different forms of capital one should consider during an analysis. Various types of capital are collectively referred to as community capital and this notion combines the social, natural, human and built capital. Communities have a responsibility of nurturing and improving their capital in order to enhance the sustainability as well as ensure economic development. In fact, the community capital framework can be used as a benchmark for assessing economic development.
Natural Capital in Beijing
Beijing lies on a flat land and it is located in the north-eastern part of China with its centre at 39°56?N and 116°20?E. It covers a total area of 16,807.8km2 with elevation of 143 feet (Dillon, 2013). The terrain is approximately 62% mountainous and 38% flat. Beijing is surrounded by mountains in the north, northwest and west of the city. An example is Mount Dongling, which is 7,555 feet high (Wu, 2011). Major rivers also flow through the city. These rivers include Chaobai and Yongding. In addition, the water resources of Beijing account for 150 cubic meters. Groundwater is the major source of drinking water while other sources are the local rivers and reclaimed waters. This gives an impression that Beijing is a water-stressed city. The Great Wall of China is located in the northern part of the municipality (Dillon, 2013).
The air quality in Beijing is rather poor primarily due to its rapid economic growth and increase in car ownership by millions. Erosion in the city also leads to seasonal dust storms which further contaminate the air quality in the city. However, Beijing has started some initiatives, such as banning the most air polluting cars, in an attempt to improve the air quality. The city has black fertile soil, which is ideal for growing soybeans, wheat, sorghum and corn. In regards to biodiversity, Beijing has an abundant plant life and a great diversity of wildlife (Dillon, 2013).
Beijing is also a breeding habitat of various endangered birds, such as Grey-sided Thrush and Chinese Flycatcher. The unique animal species include the Chinese alligator, giant panda and golden-haired monkeys. The plant life is also rather abundant, with Beijing having more than 32,000 species of higher plants. These species include edible plants, woody plants, medicinal plants and flowering plants such as the peony. A typical moderate continental climate is common for Beijing because the city is located at the North Temperate Zone. It experiences four major seasons which are springs, autumns, summers and winters. However, summers and winters are usually quite long compared to springs and autumns, which are commonly rather short. July is the hottest month of the year while January is the coldest month. Typical humid summers can be attributed to the East Asian monsoon while the Siberian anticyclone causes cold and windy winters. The average annual temperature is approximately 12.8 °C. The highest temperature ever recorded is 42 °C while the lowest is -27 °C. Tourists prefer to visit Beijing in late spring and autumn.
Beijing is premised on cultural relics and has a different way of doing things compared to other parts of the world. Various ethnic groups represent different kinds of lifestyles and customs, which contribute to China’s vibrant and heterogeneous culture. For instance, Beijing upholds the Hutong culture, which forms the common lifestyle for most of the residents. Hutongs are alleys formed by lines of traditional courtyard residences. The alleys have their own layout and structure. The term first appeared during the era of the Yuan Dynasty. The Hutongs relate to their origin and history and were originally an ample place for children playground. Young boys get together and play football matches within the narrow lanes of Hutongs. The Hutongs highlight the dramatic changes that Beijing has undergone. In fact, the Hutong-dwellers live simply and happily, which demonstrates their unwillingness to change or digress from the prevalent local culture. In fact, every Hutong has its anecdotes while some are associated with historic events.
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In regards to the culture, western Beijing has a park called Purple Bamboo Park, where groups gather together in order to dance tango, waltz and foxtrot. Moreover, a typical Chinese wedding is quite unique because the ceremony begins with firecrackers and lots of confetti. The wedding guests are given presents in form of sweets and cigarettes as a gesture of appreciation. The fortune teller is also consulted with for the selection of auspicious days. The local people in Beijing lay emphasis on the customs and festivals and enjoy cooking together and having dinner. They also derive significant influence from Confucianism, where many elders are honoured for their expertise.
Beijing is increasingly becoming known due to its big number of rapid-growth start-ups as well as its innovative entrepreneurs. The start-up boom has boosted the high-tech innovations, thus leading to a significant rate of revenue growth in the high-tech enterprises. Beijing has also emerged as a centre of innovations, especially in the tech sector. This can be attributed to the talent centralization, because many people have innovative skills that are useful for engineering and software design industries. The innovative human resources make Beijing a cradle of global technology. Moreover, Beijing is also home to Chinese Kung-Fu (Martial Arts), which is a series of fighting styles (Mangan & Hong, 2013). However, this style of fighting advocates for virtue and peace as opposed to violence.
In regard to education, Beijing is home to various internationally recognized educational institutions, such as Tsinghua University and Peking University. The concentration of tertiary education institutions attracts talent from all over the globe. In fact, the vast majority of international students come from Japan and Korea, as they prefer to pursue tertiary education in Beijing.
In Beijing, people exhibit high levels of trust for those who are in their circle of acquaintances and low levels of trust among those outside of the community. However, the trust level differs significantly, because people within the Beijing society tend to trust the familiar people (shuren) as opposed to strangers (moshengren) (Dillon, 2013). The government also restricts the ability of churches to exhibit ‘bridging’. Additionally, the government has come up with a ‘social credit’ system, aimed at rating the trustworthiness of each citizen. The credit systems build trust between all of the citizens, because it has a record of people’s history, thus promoting a fairer society. However, the social networks and social trust is weakened by the process of bottom-up urbanization. Beijing also considers fashion as a second nature to human beings, because it plays a major role in the evolution of culture as well as the society (Mangan & Hong, 2013). Older people in Beijing like to huddle in tiny restaurants or tea shops as they catch up while having lengthy conversations. Younger people prefer to hang out in cafes and night clubs and most of them enjoy the Chinese rock bands.
The political structure of Beijing is premised on a dual-party government system. It is a centrally administered municipality with the mayor being the highest-ranking political official. Similarly, the people’s congress of Beijing acts as the local government. The members of congress sessions serve for a period no longer than five years. However, due its position of being a national capital, the secretary is involved in major decision making processes. The interaction between the state and the society acts as the stimulus for political participation. The congress has the sole responsibility of budgeting and other administrative responsibilities (Dillon, 2013).
Beijing lays emphasis on improving its economy by engaging in major development projects. An example for that is funding the development of heavy industry, such as steel-producing facilities. The city is also focusing on petrochemical sectors, textile industry and highly developed machinery. Moreover, Beijing acknowledges the importance of agriculture, thus heavily investing in large farms in the quest to reduce its dependence on food supplies. The city is also invested in the service sector, even though it is primarily owned by the government agencies (Mangan & Hong, 2013). The investment focuses on the improvement of the banking system, tourism and insurance companies.
Beijing has a well-developed infrastructure that caters to the various economic activities that take place in the city. It has a wide network of highways that radiate outwards from the centre of the city. An example for that is the highway that extends southward to Hengshui and eastward to Tangshan (Wu, 2011). Bus and railroad service is also quite well-developed because rail transport is the most common form of transportation. In fact, Beijing is a rail hub and serves as a terminus for several rail lines. The rail network is so extensive that it provides services from Beijing to all of China’s provinces, except Tibet. Beijing is also home to Beijing Capital Airport, which offers international flights to capitals all around the world, such as New York, Berlin and Paris. The major universities in Beijing are Qinghua and Beijing University. It also has a lot of recreational facilities, such as Ching-Shan Park and the Summer Palace (Dillon, 2013). Beijing upholds the reading culture of its population by putting up various libraries, such as the Beijing library which has a collection of maps as well as ancient books and manuscripts.
Comparing and Contrasting Beijing Community and Smallville Community
Smallville is a small rural town in western Illinois. Despite the differences in the sizes, Smallville and Beijing have a similar structure of social capital in the sense that the residents of both cities work in harmony in the quest of sustaining what they value in their communities. In this regard, Smallville residents consider their little town as a small paradise worth defending, even though it looks rather undistinguished. Smallville town has a branch bank, a restaurant, church as the major social amenities and a decreasing school population (Salamon, 2007). Beijing also has various churches, banks and restaurants although they are usually located in high-end and state of the art buildings. The Smallville community is sustained by a main street restaurant, which functions as the local community centre. Men gather there in order to catch up and bring new babies to show off. Similarly, old men in Beijing enjoy hanging out in restaurants and tea shops for having lengthy conversations (Wu, 2011). Beijing and Smallville also grow similar crops such as soy beans, corn and corn.
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Smallville does not enjoy benefits of a well-developed infrastructure such as rail road or major highways (Salamon, 2007). The industrialization level is significantly lower because old and decrepit secondary roads remain untouched, making it difficult to navigate. In Beijing, on the other hand, the infrastructure is much better because the city has contemporary roads, rail roads and airports. The main activity in Smallville is farming, as it contains many farms and fields. The sources of water are Reeves Dam and Smallville dam. The major water bodies are Crater Lake and Hobson’s Pond. Elbow River flows through Smallville. However, the main types of activities in Beijing revolve around the sector of technology and innovation due to the presence of many large scale industries. Smallville has attractions such as the Kent General Store, Old Smallville Jail and a super boy statute (Salamon, 2007). Similarly, Beijing has various attractions such as Summer Place, Forbidden City and Great Wall of China.
Different forms of capital in Beijing shed light on the nature of city, its culture and the major activities of the city. Moreover, Beijing lays emphasis on the cultural and human capitals, as they primarily define the city’s dynamics. Other forms of capital, such as social capital, depict how the residents interact with each other, while political capital relates to the ways they interact with the state. The similarities and differences between Smallville community and Beijing are based on the fact that Beijing is a much larger and a highly developed city, while Smallville is a rather small rural area. For this reason, the level of infrastructure and social amenities in Smallville is under-developed compared to that of Beijing.