After the global pandemic forced organizers to cancel the iconic event, Shanghai Fashion Week quickly pivoted to a virtual extravaganza the last week of March. Powered by Tmall, the online marketplace of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, the showcase combined livestreamed catwalk shows with teleshopping. In total, the event’s streams pulled in 11 million views and helped generate more than US$70 million in combined earnings.
10th Most Influential Project of 2020
The electric carmaker’s first gigafactory outside the United States was completed in 168 working days in December 2019. The feat made Tesla a Chinese unicorn: It’s the first foreign company to wholly own a car manufacturing plant in the country. Previously, the government required foreign manufacturers to create a joint venture with a local company or shoulder a 25 percent tax on imports.
12th Most Influential Project of 2020
The massive new airport, which opened in September 2019, features the world’s largest airport terminal, spanning 7.5 million square feet (696,773 square meters). Based on a user-centric master plan created by Netherlands Airport Consultants and brimming with state-of-the-art technology, Beijing Daxing International is designed to streamline the travel experience. It will accommodate 45 million passengers by 2021, with expansion plans that would increase capacity to 72 million.
45th Most Influential Project of 2020
Chinese telecom giant Huawei led the charge to deliver the country’s first 5G wireless network—a massive and much-anticipated project covering 50 cities that went live in October 2019. Huawei aims to have 800,000 5G base stations in place by the end of the year, helping China ramp up to a projected 460 million 5G users by 2025.
After four years of tests, the world’s largest radio telescope was declared fully operational in January, part of the government’s efforts to position China as a leader in radio astronomy. FAST—or formally the Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope—is roughly 2.5 times more sensitive than its rivals. Even before the official launch, more than 500 scientists had proposed 133 projects using the Guizhou, China facility that’s home to the telescope.
It’s tech giant Tencent’s homegrown vision for the future of cities: a solar-powered, car-free district in Shenzhen that provides a model for the future of urban planning. Announced in June, the plan includes a corridor for buses, bikes and autonomous vehicles so there’s more room to create pedestrian-focused entertainment venues, parks and a waterfront.
China’s goal of staking its claim as a major space player by 2030 took one giant leap—all the way to Mars. The Tianwen-1 mission, launched in July, became the country’s first exploratory mission to the red planet. If all goes to plan, Tianwen-1 would reach Mars by February 2021 and China would become the second country to successfully operate a rover from the surface. The rover will search for signs of water and ice, and explore the atmosphere and soil.
It’s the first aircraft carrier built entirely within China, capable of carrying as many as 32 fighter jets and featuring a ski-jump-style ramp for takeoff. Commissioned in December 2019, the project also provides a template for China’s bid to expand its naval fleet.
Created by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, this sinuous skyscraper’s signature biomorphic form was created using nearly 11,500 flat glass panels. The striking design also resolved structural challenges—from wind forces to seismic threats—common to the Chinese city. Certified LEED gold, the multiuse building ranked as the world’s eighth tallest when it opened last September, reaching 530 meters (1,739 feet).
China Railway Corp.’s 699-kilometer (434-mile) high-speed rail line is designed to reduce travel times between Chongqing and Kunming, while sparking regional development across southwest China. With a top speed of 350 kilometers (217 miles) per hour, the train will cut trip times in half. Work on the CNY142 billion project began last year and is scheduled to be completed in 2025.