A Native’s Homage to Hangzhou, The G20 Host

Twenty-eight years ago, I would never have imagined that the President of the United States and other world leaders would visit my hometown, Hangzhou, and discuss important matters that will affect humanity’s future.

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The Hangzhou I left behind was a backwater town, with narrow alleys and rundown dwellings. There was only one department store, Liberalization Department Store, one decent hotel, Hangzhou Hotel (now renamed as Shangri-La). Many people still wore Mao suite. Most rode bicycles to work and for daily chores. The only automobiles on the streets were dusty buses, which ran sparsely between hours and were almost never on time.

Yes, there was West Lake, and people said it was beautiful. To my unappreciative eye, however, it was a dead lake. The stillness of the lake seemed lifeless to me. I was yearning to see oceans. I grew up hearing people say that “above there is heaven, and below there is Hangzhou.” But I was desperate to leave the “paradise on earth.”

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Now one of the wealthiest cities in the country, Hangzhou has 9 million inhabitants. Most of them are members of the new middle class, who have seen their life dramatically improved over the past decades.

When President Barack Obama arrives in Hangzhou on Saturday, he will not see a backwater town. Instead, he will see a bustling modern metropolis nestled in lush hills.

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I finally understand why people say Hangzhou is a “paradise on earth.” Now that I have seen the oceans, visited the Lincoln Memorial, and watched Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech many times, and looking from the other side of the Pacific, I can truly appreciate Hangzhou’s beauty.

(Read the full article on Forbes).

Grace Magazine Nicknamed Me “The Spirit of the East and West”

During my trip to China in June, a lifestyle and fashion magazine Grace in Chengdu did a feature story on me. The article came out in the August issue. See below:

The magazine’s main patrons are modern and trendy Chinese women. I am honored to be in a fashion magazine, but I am even more honored to be named as “The Spirit of the East and West.”

In Chinese, the word Jing Ling means “spirit,” but can also mean “wizard,” or “genius.” Last night, I was at KTSF Channel 26, a San Francisco Chinese TV station, filming a segment of “Talk Tonight” show. The host asked me if this title sounded “too cute.” I said no. That’s what I want to be.

I hope we can all be the “spirit” or the bridge that connects the East and West.

Until next time, live your dreams fully, everyday!


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A Little Bridge over Brimming Water

Copyright (c) 2007 Helen Wang

The photo reminds me of a famous Chinese poem: “A little bridge over brimming water, and there is a hidden home….” Since the “home” is not seen in the picture, I named it “A Little Bridge over Brimming Water.”

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My Hometown Hangzhou

My hometown Hangzhou is known as “paradise on earth.” An ancient Chinese saying says: “Above there is heaven; below there is Hangzhou.”

Anyone who has visited Hangzhou is impressed by its scenic beauty. A mirror-like lake, called West Lake, is nested in lush hills, like jade carved into green velvet. Along the lake are peach and willow trees, wavering and whispering in gentle breeze.

In the springtime, when the peach trees are blossoming with pink and white flowers in between the green willows, West Lake looks like a cheerful bride ready to wed. A pagoda, named Precious Stone Pagoda, stands on the top of the hills at the north side of the lake, as if a faithful guard watching out for his bride.

Hangzhou is also a historical city. It served as the capital of China in Song Dynasty (960-1279). In the 13th century, Marco Polo traveled to Hangzhou – the center of trade and culture during that time, and wrote elaborately in his journals about West Lake. He considered Hangzhou as “the most beautiful and splendid city in the world.”

Throughout history, Hangzhou has inspired poets, artists, philosophers and politicians. Many of them had left mesmerizing poems about West Lake. A classical poem by Su Shi, a renowned poet in Song Dynasty, says it all:

The brimming waves delight the eyes on sunny days;
The dimming hills present rare views in raining haze.
If comparing The West Lake to the Beauty of West Shi,
It becomes her to be adorned in either ways.

Today, Hangzhou has renewed itself into a center for technology and entrepreneurship. With a population of seven million, Hangzhou accounted for 20 percent of the province’s GDP, 30 percent of its imports and 17 percent of foreign investment.

A recent survey by Forbes reveals that Hangzhou scored the highest on the list of “the top ten best places for business,” before Shanghai and Beijing.

It is a base for global manufacturers such as Motorola, Siemens, and Toshiba. It has several of the most successful homegrown companies – the biggest auto parts maker Wan-Xiang, soft drinks group Wahaha, and Internet company Alibaba.