There is a great need for rethinking the relationship between culture and future urbanism in the age of sustainable development. Existing discourses of creative cities have been dominated by a neoliberal agenda regarding culture as an engine of growth and an industrial policy for global competition. This chapter asks how a genuine appreciation of cultural economy, including the social construction of aesthetic meanings, the social structure, and spatiality, can enable a new rationale of urbanism in the Chinese context. We believe this inquiry is at the heart of the New Urban Agenda which regards culture as the central thesis to address sustainability challenges. We develop a multi-level framework of “creative capital” and attempt to use this framework to uncover the potential of Beijing as a creative city with rich historical cultural heritage, especially the Chinese discourses on modernity and the associated aesthetic values. We then draw lessons from such analysis in China and show ways of contributing to the creative cities theories by deploying the creative capital framework into more structured research projects in the future.