It was 30 years ago today…

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Beijing opened its subway system to civilians thirty years ago today. Originally for military use, the system was later expanded for civilian transportation and now boasts five lines; the newest opening earlier this year. Back in 1977, China was very different, as this photo of the contractors on the system shows. The Cultural Revolution was just coming to an end and pictures of a recently deceased Chairman Mao were still on display. Pictured next to Mao in the photograph is his successor, Hua Guofeng. The original system, on which construction began in 1965, was off limits to foreigners also until 1977. The initial line ran from Beijing Railway Station to Pingguoyuan, while the current system boasts five lines, with the additional spurs for the Olympics, the airport extension and another six lines scheduled by 2012. The gentlemen pictured with commemorative banners are the original engineers.

This China cultural article is one of a regular series we will be running at China Briefing. Conducting business in China is more than just legal and tax advice, one has to “feel” all of China – its beat and rhythm – in order to properly advice clients on conducting business in this massive country. These cultural articles are intended to assist with a greater business understanding of the background to doing business in China and are provided by the research team at Dezan Shira & Associates. The series can be found here.

Beijing’s subway system today: