For most Western people, when talking about China, Beijing and Shanghai are still the only two cities that they can come up with. And in local people’s mind, Beijing and Shanghai are also the most representative cities of China in both economy and culture. This globally-held view of a draw between them has already set invisible hostilities between native inhabitants of this two cities. Beijingers are proud of being residents of the capital, while Shanghaiers think Beijingers are too unfashionable and controlled because of the political atmosphere.
So, which is the NO.1 of China? Let me give my own opinions as a third party who have been to both of this two cities.
Both of Beijing and Shanghai are modern cities with high buildings, broad roads, nationwide and international foods, numerous working opportunities. But they are also the places with crowded people, heavy traffic jams, high housing price and terrible haze. But one thing important that I think can distinguish them is the history. In my opinion, the city that can represent China must have a long history as Beijing does, rather than Shanghai, the history of which is short and largely affected by the Western cultures. Although Shanghai seems to be more open than Beijing, it has a reputation of being exclusive to people from other parts of China. This fact has made Shanghai a little bit too mean to be the model of China.
So, if there is only one city you can choose to come, I will definitely recommend Beijing as your first option. Here, you can see a perfect balance between the traditional cultures and modern issues and a convergence of Chinese cultures and international trends.