Beijing in Toronto
The global city appears in other global cities, it is a sign of its globalness.
On a week wandering through Toronto, Beijing pops it head out in numerous ways. Toronto is deeply global with an almost utopian mixing of different cultures on the outside (at least from my superficial outsider perspective). China is one of the most apparent of these, mixing in ways that seem deeper than in Los Angeles. I see groups of multi-ethnic friends around the university, so many that it becomes noticeable. In a Chinese restaurant off Spadina, young Canadians order in Chinese. On Bay Street on a walk back to the hotel in the snow, a neon sign promises 北京饺子. At the conference I am attending there are numerous scholars from Beijing Universities. I meet a student from my department at Tsinghua. I see Bank of China branches and other signs of Beijing's financial might. There are many signs of migration between these two places, of flows of people moving back and forth. They are similar to other migration connections with Beijing, but Toronto (as does Vancouver) seem like certain epicenters, most likely due to the particular Canadian immigration policies--in particular the Millionaires Policy which gave citizenship to people who brought high amounts of capital.
At the Royal Ontario Museum there is an exhibit of artifacts from the Forbidden City. This is global shared culture. It is also soft power, a communication of Chinese civilization and world influence. People come and marvel at the relics of Chinese history: paintings, clothing, vases, calligraphy. I am in Beijing, surrounded by it, but I am also somewhere else.
In this way Beijing leaves its global mark inscribing itself on other places, entering itself into the consciousness of people far away. Beijing flows out into the global space, into other global cities like Toronto (or Los Angeles, or Dubai, or. . . ), through webs of migration, culture and capital. I can only understand it in its totality by seeing it from these projected representations on the other side of the world.
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