The old Silk Street was established in 1980, and started with a few shops scattered between embassies and diplomatic apartments. Many years later, it became the "Popular Shopping Center" for many foreign visitors wanting to go shopping in Beijing. Some economists called it "the 21st-century Riverside Scene at the Qingming Festival, cut with scissors of reform and openness”. "Climb the Great Wall, visit the Imperial Palace, eat Peking duck, and go shopping in the Silk Street" are now all musts for foreign tourists. Together with the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Peking duck, the Silk Street has become one of the "Beijing icons", and a landmark for many domestic and foreign tourists.
The Silk Street is located along the extension of the Chang'an Street, close to the CBD.It benefits from an privileged location, with access to convenient transportation and it is, like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, an iconic international tourism market that, among Chinese places of tourist interest, has the greatest influence in the world.
As the largest free market in China and one of the most famous trademarks, the "Silk Street" has nearly three decades of history, and was born at the same time as the reform and opening process in China. March 19, 2005 witnessed the birth of the new Silk Street, which have opened the new and most glorious chapter in its history. Since its re-opening day, the new Silk Street, with its service concept of "Meeting international quality standards and offering fair prices" , has attracted customers from many countries. Here products of the most basic Chinese characteristics, including boutique clothing, silk, beads, porcelain, tea, handicrafts and Chinese specialties such as Quanjude roast duck, are very much appreciated by consumers worldwide. In the recent two years, hundreds of dignitaries from the entire world and international stars of sports made countless tours accompanied by their wives to the Silk Market, illustrating the uniqueness of the Silk Street as the Number One Chinese market for foreigners.
During the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the Silk Street, designated as a place for receiving foreign guests, successfully played host to more than 290 VIP guests at the ministerial and above levels from African countries and has been named the "Advanced Guest-receiving Unit with Excellent Safety Measures for the FOCAC Beijing Summit ". In January 2007, the Beijing municipal government has designated the Silk Street as "Specialty Shopping Street for the Olympic Games", assigning it the task of receiving foreign guests of the Beijing Olympic Games 2008. At the same time, the Silk Street was also been the focus of national media attention and reports. In June 2007, the overseas edition of People's Daily published a long article about the Silk Street and in October, the program "Focus" of CCTV1 television channel reported the Party Branch construction work of the Silk Market.