The conversion of an old abandoned factory site into a vibrant area for the Olympic Games is proof enough that China never lets anything go to waste. Making a treasure out of waste is a forte of Chinese leadership and that is why China, even in the games, has taken centre stage. When I came to see the flag raising ceremony, my first impression was that it would be a routine event. However, within minutes I had to change my mind in totality. Definitely, it was not a routine ceremony; rather it was great teamwork, with gestures of national fervour, the spirit of patriotism and a sense of unity.

I have not witnessed such blossoming zeal and zest before as I did at the ceremony with Chinese people hailing from various provinces. Almost all age group people, including minors and the elderly, were present there to catch the step-by-step relevant proceedings. Staying until wee hours of the morning, the gathering of thousands of people reflects that the masses have deep-rooted emotions with the flag raising ceremony, as the flag is a symbol of unity for them.

During a visit to Zhongguancun Innovation Demonstration Zone, Zhongguancun Software Park and iSoftStone, what enthralled me was the way Artificial Intelligence (AI) was put in action in every sector. Especially in developing e-cities, AI is the order of the day. China aims to build 100 new smart cities from 2016 to 2020 to lead the country’s urban planning and development. All these innovation zones have a focus on technology, AI and big data, as well as their applications in city management. The intelligence of transport, security administration, emergency services and infrastructure monitoring will make this happen at a speedy rate.

I believe that these innovative parts and zones will help lay down the foundation of 5G-based IOC Solution to serve as a “brain” to select and analyse big data, provide solutions for decision-makers, and offer technical support for emergency command.

These centres will help build a digital model to establish urban construction to decide how the infrastructure will be built in line with the changes of city development.

With fast-paced development, Beijing is the centre of modern economy, life style, politics, governance, trade, industry, financial system, infrastructure, AI mechanism and transportation.

It is home to the headquarters of most of China’s largest state-owned companies and houses the largest number of Fortune Global 500 companies in the world, as well as the world’s four biggest financial institutions. It is also a major hub for the national highway, expressway, railway, and high-speed rail networks. The Beijing Capital International Airport has been the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic since 2010, and, the city’s subway network is the busiest and second longest in the world.

Beijing shines with the two tallest buildings; the 330-meter China World Trade Centre Tower III and the 528-meter China Zun . Both buildings are in the Beijing Central Business District (CBD).

Many of Beijing’s 91 universities consistently rank among the best in China, such as the Peking University and Tsinghua University. Beijing CBD is a centre for Beijing’s economic expansion, with the on-going or recently completed construction of multiple skyscrapers. Zhongguancun, located in the north-western Beijing’s Haidian district, is called Beijing’s innovation hub and is at the centre of China’s aim to become a tech powerhouse.

It is home to nearly 9,000 high tech firms, including some of China’s biggest internet firms, such as Nasdaq-listed Baidu and Sina area, also known as China’s Silicon Valley and a centre of innovation and technology entrepreneurship.

Eye-catching also is the interior and exterior of buildings, reflecting a fusion of simplicity and glamour simultaneously. The mesmerizing style of displaying the craftsmanship of various artists made everybody sit up and take notice. Exhibition of Picasso- Birth of a Genius at UCCA (Centre for Contemporary Art) also took me by storm. The presentation there is built on cognizing, reconstructing and presenting the history and progress of modern Chinese art from an inspirational perspective of the time. Through contemporary exploration and practices, it has been promoting the inheritance of traditional culture and art in an ordered way. It is a gateway to understanding Chinese modern art and fashion. Apart from art galleries, these areas abound with a range of restaurants, bars and shops allowing visitors to have a unique taste of Chinese cuisine.

I admire the Chinese government for keeping a decommissioned factory alive. Both 798 art district and 751D park most of time are crowded with Chinese and foreign visitors. They have become one of the top highlights of a city that sparkles and lets others smile.

China’s cultural innovation is booming at a rapid pace. Digitalisation is recreating the traditional style of living, eating, working, interacting, commuting, socialising, wearing and thinking. A vast array of technology start-ups and established huge platforms for e-commerce, delivery of services, ride-hailing, bike rentals and co-working spaces have given new dimensions to Chinese cultural settings and habits. Getting immersed into areas like quantum computing, autonomous vehicles and AI applications, China has merged past into the future.

The latest technology such as unmanned stores, driverless vehicles and delivery robots are the new inventive way of living in the length and breadth of Beijing and other urban cities in China. Innovation has been influencing traditional shopping standards. Now customers can enter Tencent’s unmanned store after scanning their faces, then pick up items and head for the exit, where their faces are scanned again and payment is automatically deducted from their account. The travelling phenomenon has also been affected by the e-cities mechanism. “City Brain,” an artificial intelligence platform is aimed at improving city management. The “brain” collects traffic and weather data, analyses traffic flow and adjusts traffic lights accordingly to ease traffic congestion.