Cities are not built in a day

Updated: 2014-02-21 08:53

By Li Yang (

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The natural, historical and human legacies of a city are the city’s soul and the citizens’ memories that must be cherished in urban construction, says an article in China Business News. Excerpts:

Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, plans to invest 2 trillion yuan ($328 billion) in construction in the city in the next five years. There are 10 cities in central and western China boasting a similar investment scale for infrastructure construction in the near future.

The city governments should pay more attention to their investment quality than its scale.

Wuhan is famous for the natural lake groups in its urban area. But the number of lakes in Wuhan has declined from 127 in the late 1940s to the current 33. The past experience of urbanization in Chinese cities indicates that what is threatened, instead of being protected, in urban construction includes green areas, wetlands and places of historical interest as well as the collective memory of local communities.

The cities in less-developed inland China should draw lessons from the maladies inflicting the cities in East China, which were caused by the blind expansion of those cities and an ignorance of important heritage.

Government debt is another issue that comes along with large-scale city construction.

Statistics show that, by June 30, 2012, the Wuhan city government’s debt had reached 200 billion yuan, making it a heavily indebted government. Because of recent two years’ large-scale investment in infrastructure construction, it is believed the government’s debt burden has not improved markedly, and may have worsened, since 2012.

Although the Wuhan city government claims it will diversify its models of raising funds for city construction, citizens and local enterprises will necessarily undertake the debt burdens eventually.

Rome was not built in a day, but the old Rome can be demolished overnight. City governments should always bear in mind what is important for the cities and local people, rather than only being concerned with investment scale, which boosts local economic growth figures and helps officials get promoted in their ranks.