New York-based travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler quietly ranked the world’s most friendly and unfriendly cities. The rankings appeared last month but have recently been picked up in China's media, which have come to the defense of two of the country’s big cities, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, both of which made the list of most unfriendly cities in the world.
Guangzhou earned the spot as the 11th most unfriendly city while Shenzhen was ranked 14th. The publication determined the rankings using percentage values out of 100, with Guangzhou earning a 31.4 percent rating and Guangzhou marginally better with 33.1 percent. Cities that were ranked as the friendliest cities, like first place Florianopolis, Brazil, and second-place Hobart, in Australia's Tasmania, earned scores of 95.8 percent and 95.4 respectively.
The publication determined their results using a survey that pooled the opinions of 46,476 people. The main issue readers had with the two cities seemed to be mainly because of the booming business culture that exists in both. “Readers think Southern China’s largest city is ‘not as tourist-friendly as Beijing, Hong Kong, or Shanghai,’ and that may be because it’s a better fit for business travelers,” the report said of Guangzhou. “Readers say the ‘not nice’ city is best for ‘work only’ because it is ‘busy and extremely crowded.’”
Responses for Shenzhen were just as underwhelming. “Another big business city (the Shenzhen Stock Exchange is here), Shenzhen didn’t win over our readers,” the publication found. “Though some like the shopping and spas and the proximity to Hong Kong, others complained it was ‘too crowded’ and ‘dirty,’ winding up at visiting ‘only if I have to.’”
Unsurprisingly, Chinese news outlets came to the defense of the two southern cities. China’s state-run publication and Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily commented on the rankings, saying that they were rather arbitrary and even uninformed. “So what were [people] exactly asked in this not-very-scientific survey to determine these embarrassing results for Guangdong Province?” the commentary asked. “The survey didn’t introduce how many respondents have been to Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and how many respondents regard Guangzhou and Shenzhen as the unfriendliest cities in the world.”
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The People’s Daily also pointed out that Condé Nast Traveler’s Chinese-language version of the magazine didn’t publish the list in the print version or even online. In addition to that, Condé Nast Traveler’s Chinese edition told reporters from the South Daily that they had no involvement with the rankings and were not aware of how the data was compiled or determined.