Two faces of Beijing’s Sanlitun party district

Beijing’s Sanlitun area is an increasingly upscale place known for shopping, eating and drinking. Following some recent incidents of violence, The New York Times looks at Beijing’s party district for both expats, foreign visitors and locals.

The district of Sanlitun lies inside the eastern stretch of the city’s Third Ring Road and was once a village. Later it became the site of foreign exchange stores and some of Beijing’s first Western-style bars. The first bars have appeared around 1990, but the character of the area changed drastically over time, specifically when Beijing was preparing for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The city began redeveloping the area and some of the bars were torn down to build gleaming new shopping complexes like Taikoo Li Sanlitun. The outdoor mall has huge Adidas, Apple, Nike and Uniqlo stores.

The area outside the Apple Store has been the scene of scuffles between scalpers and staff members when new products are released, such as the iPad 2 in 2011 and the iPhone 4S in 2012. The area also has its dark side, as the district is also known for drug sales. The police sometimes carry out sweeps targeting foreign dealers.

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Image by Leeluv (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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