Friday, November 25, 2005

More on the New York Times and China...

Anybody who's been to China, or knows Chinese knows this:

While much of the world marvels at China's manufacturing prowess, what is more striking is the physical renaissance rolling across the urban landscape, led by city planners, architects, housing crews and construction companies.

Old urban centers - most of them frozen in time since the Communist Party took over in 1949 - are being demolished, millions of residents are being relocated, and construction crews are fanning out to build the cities of tomorrow.

In Shanghai, the government is clearing 1,300 acres of riverfront land and relocating about 50,000 residents and more than 270 factories, including the country's largest shipyard, to build a site for the World Expo to be held in 2010.

Out west, in the city of Kunming, there are plans to create three new areas that will ring Dian Chi Lake, doubling the city's size to five million by 2020.

In Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province, the city hired a Japanese designer to develop a master plan for a new 58-square-mile town.

And in Changchun, the capital of Jilin Province in the north, the city government and the central business district are also being relocated to a new city center.

"Every government wants to do big things, and they want them done fast, while they're still in office," says Eva Wang, who runs EWS, a Shanghai-based architecture firm. "They all want to get credit for creating something really astounding."

The whole thing reminds me of the Cisco campus in Silicon Valley both stylistically and in the way land was transformed there.

Which brings to mind: what do you think the Chinese would say when they see Silicon Valley? Would they say this?

Luckily there's bits of San Jose that haven't been demolished though, and unfortunately, much of really cool historical buildings in China are being demolished.

But it is true that the thing any visitor to China notices is that everything is so new.

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