Though it’s way out on the way to the airport, the 798 Art District is a hotspot for the arty crowd, and one of the most interesting of Beijing’s attractions. Originally this huge complex of Bauhaus-style buildings was an electronics factory, built by East Germans; when that closed down in the 1990s, artists moved in and converted the airy, light and, above all, cheap spaces into studios. As the Chinese art market blossomed, galleries followed, then boutiques and cafés – a process of gentrification that would take fifty years in the West, but happened here in about five. The city government – terrified of unfettered expression – initially wanted to shut the area down, but now that 798’s emphasis is ever more commercial, the future of the place looks secure.

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