Area Code 026 Sets off Fights from Major Cities – Southern Weekend

A new, interesting fight is brewing, this one over which city will get the last three-digit area code (with a 2 in the middle) in China. Translated by CDT from Southern Weekend:

Well known are the easy-to-remember area codes for China’s biggest cities. Beijing has 010, Guangzhou has 020, Shanghai 021, Tianjin 022, all the way to Xi’an, which has 029. But there is one yet to be snapped up, 026.

Who gets this remaining number can mean a lot: economic power, growth potential, higher ranking in terms of political significance and many more benefits.

In 2000, a Changsha scholar proposed his idea of giving 026 to an emerging metropolitan area that includes Changsha-Zhuzhou-Xiangtan (ÈïøÊ≤ôʆ™Ê¥≤ÊπòÊΩ≠). Two years later, a Shenzhen non-Communist put forward his proposal, that Shenzhen should upgrade its code from the long, unimpressive 0755 to 026. His argument is, all the 02* cities are economically developed, and Shenzhen’s four-digit code is out of sync with its economic might.

Soon joining the fight were Dalian, Harbin, Hangzhou, Zhengzhou, Qingdao, etc.

A showcase example was Chongqing, which upgraded from a local city in Sichuan Province to a municipality (Áõ¥ËæñÂ∏Ç), which is a provincial-level city that is in many cases a notch higher than provincial capitals. And its code changed from 0811 to 023. More fortunately, Chongqing’s GDP per capita grew to 12,437 yuan in 2006, ranking third among all the , and its fiscal revenue expanded by eight times since 1996, increasing 25% a year.

Although getting the 026 code doesn’t mean a guaranteed economic takeoff, given China’s age-old craze about numbers from license plates to seating arrangements, this is understandable. [Full Text in Chinese]

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