Beijing. The people of Shijiazhuang, capital of northern Hebei province and an industrial hub, have reason to cheer. This month, the city with a population of about 11 million was named China’s happiest city.
It beat more than 290 Chinese cities to the title in an annual competitiveness study by a government think-tank. The news was greeted with both shock and envy — that this relatively poor city could grab such a coveted position and score major political points with the top leadership, whose new campaign is to make people happy.
This was the first time that the closely watched annual survey included a “happiness index,” as the Chinese Communist Party strives to maintain social stability by showing that it cares about the people’s well-being.
Linyi in Shandong province and Yangzhou in Jiangsu province were placed second and third. Beijing squeezed into the top 10 at No. 9.
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