søndag 2. januar 2022

Next Stop, Xi’erqi: the Station at the Heart of China’s Big Tech

On the No. 13 Line from Xizhimen Station, a public transit hub on the second ring road close to Beijing North railway station, it just takes 18 minutes to reach the heart of China’s internet industry: Xi’erqi. Home to internet giants such as Kuaishou, Baidu, Lenovo, and Didi, rush hour sees thousands of IT professionals flood into the subway station at Xi’erqi from the many industrial parks nearby. On the platform, a swirling sea of humanity awaits.

The road above is no less chaotic. Pedestrians mob the three-way junction near the station as impatient cars honk and weave their way through gaps in the crowds. When they finally turn the corner, most drivers invariably stomp on the gas and speed off with a roar.

Watching the bedlam while stooped under a traffic light, a young office worker waiting for his Didi ride sends a voice message to his friend on WeChat: “There are so many people — it’s like Plants vs Zombies.”