Beijing is the 72nd most livable city in the world, providing the best living conditions in the Chinese mainland, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) biannual survey released Tuesday.
Overseas headlines focused on habitual top ranked city, Vancouver, Canada, only coming in third this year after first-placed Melbourne, Australia and Vienna, Austria. Most of the highest rated cities are in Canada or Australia, with only two European cities rounding out the top 10.
But in China, many are surprised to find that Beijing is the top rated city for livability, rather than cities like Shanghai or Dalian, Liaoning Province.
Globally, 140 cities were scored out of 100 on stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. The scores are based on information fed back by correspondents in each city, Jon Copestake, the survey editor, told Canada's CBC news from London.
The EIU is a division of The Economist, and they do not reveal the identity of the correspondents.
According to the EIU's website, their concept of assessing livability is to sample which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions. Beijing has improved its ranking by three places from 2010.
After Beijing, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, and Tianjin come in at 73rd and 74th respectively, which makes them the top three livable cities in the Chinese mainland, while Shanghai is at 79, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, is 82nd and Dalian is 85th.
Hu Ying, 29, an architect in a local company who often goes to Suzhou and Dalian on business trips, does not think the order is correct, according to her own experiences.
"A livable city, to me, is a place where people could live a stress-free, comfortable and affordable life," said Hu, "Beijing is modern and attractive, but it is definitely not more livable than coastal or smaller cities," she said.
Ilya Cheremnikh, an Israeli who has lived in Beijing for four years and has also traveled to many cities in China, has his own favorite. "Given the factors listed, I think Shanghai should be No.1, but not Beijing, where the infrastructure and education is clearly not good enough to satisfy the large numbers of people living here," he said.
Li Jie, who has a PhD in sociology from Tsinghua University, would not vote for Beijing, her hometown, either.
Li thinks when it comes to livability, the residents' satisfaction and well-being should be considered, and ranking the best for infrastructure, education and health care just proves Beijing has privileges and resources due to the preferential policies in the capital as well as for the capital.
"Beijing's metro and bus lines are probably better, for example, but does that mean people here have a convenient and enjoyable commuting experience in the city? No," Li said.
On August 9, the China Institute of City Competitiveness also announced the "most livable cities" in China, with Qingdao, Shandong Province, Suzhou, and Guiyang, Guizhou Province, placed in the top three, after considering "environmental health, urban safety and convenience of living facilities," while Beijing did not even make the top 10.
Copestake told CBC news on Wednesday, "Asia performed very well because of strong infrastructure, education and stability indicators, although they perform less well on cultural activities. But Asia is unique in offering some of the world's more livable locations."
The top three Asian cities are Osaka, at No.12, and Tokyo at 18, both in Japan, and Hong Kong is in 31st place.
Zhang Xin contributed to this story