In a globalized world, cities can become the lever of the economy. The economy’s configuration and the textile that comprises it are growth instruments, not just social peculiarities. The ability to stimulate talent, circulate ideas, attract capital and technology are essential components for an urban qualification. A dynamic, attractive, efficient and international city stimulates growth; just think about London’s role in the service industry, even in a country that lost its manufacturing specialization years ago. For this reason, Beijing has an imprecise role, a contradictory present, and an uncertain future. Its centrality in China is undeniable. It has been the political and cultural center for millennia. It is the inevitable keystone of the entire Chinese civilization. It would be reductive, however, to confine Beijing to an exclusively administrative and intellectual context. Its industrial dimensions are great; the concentration of factories is imposing. Shanghai is probably China’s financial capital, Guangzhou the center of manufacturing, but Beijing is easily compared to Washington, Canberra or Ottawa. It has the best universities in the country, even if classes are almost exclusively taught in Chinese. More than half of Fortune 500 companies have invested in offices or systems in the capital. Many of these have transferred their headquarters there. The infrastructural network has undergone an impressive acceleration, caused in part by the 2008 Olympics. At the beginning of the millennium Beijing had 2 metro lines covering a combined 55 km of railway. Today, the distance covered has grown to 456 km, the most extensive subterranean network in the world. The international airport is now second in terms of passenger traffic, while a mere 12 years ago it wasn’t even in the top 30. Public transportation is under incessant construction to facilitate the movement of its citizens. With more than 20 million residents, the capital is the most populous city in China. The speed of the demographic explosion is striking. Over the past decade, the population grew by 42%, compared to the analogous percentage of 6% for China as a whole. The composition of the population is even more surprising: more than one third are rural immigrants. It involves the most striking aspect of China’s urbanization. In recent years an epochal overtaking has occurred: for the first time in China’s history, the urban population has surpassed the rural. Beijing has, therefore, all the requisite political, economic and cultural cards to become a global city, balanced between growth, importance and prestige. Strides in this direction have been important; in many respects, some problems have been resolved. The city has still not assumed the international character demanded by its role. English is certainly more diffuse, but decidedly underused. In general terms, foreign businesses have lamented new restrictions that have replaced the willingness to receive exhibited over the preceding ten years. Research centers are growing, but they’re not able to attract scientists in a stable and continuous manner. Living conditions have experienced a sharp decline with traffic and pollution reaching unbearable levels, enough to force numerous foreign families to return to their home countries. For Beijing, it’s not just a matter of respecting standards recognized at an international level, but to capitalize on the undeniable successes it has registered until now. This involves reconsidering a development model focused on production, by growth symbolized by steel, cement and smokestacks. The capital is being called to a role unknown to it until now: improve the intangible aspects, discovering—albeit late—that there is economic value in quality of life.