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East beats west for eats, not culture

By Daniel Garst | China Daily | Updated: 2011-04-26 07:57

East beats west for eats, not culture

Sanlitun may have the best restaurants, but for beauty and history you must look further

'I like living near Chaoyang Park way more than being west of the Second Ring Road," said a young friend and former student of mine as we sipped coffee in Sanlitun recently. "It's much livelier." His comment points to a defining feature of Beijing's east-west divide: the area east of the Second Ring Road grabs all the glory when it comes to dining and nightlife.

This split is a historical accident. Prior to the founding of New China, most foreigners lived in Beijing's old historic core, with foreign diplomatic officials housed in the legation quarter near the Forbidden City. During the 1950s, however, a new diplomatic compound was created in eastern Sanlitun. Older Chinese colleagues tell me that at that time this part of Beijing constituted its suburban fringe.

East beats west for eats, not culture

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