Little boxes... look just the same

Updated: 2014-06-25 07:10

(China Daily)

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Before visiting China for the first time in 2007, I had read about historic neighborhoods in Beijing being torn down to build hotels and other facilities for the 2008 Olympic Games, and saw the sordid sights everywhere during my stay in the city.

In fact, the lovely old hotel I was staying at stood next to a construction site where a new hotel was coming up and, expectedly, every morning I woke up to the deafening sound of jackhammers.

Even the hotel I was staying at was scheduled to close for renovation, because few individuals or organizations wanted to miss out on the chance to cash in on the Olympic craze in the country.

During my visit, my uncle arranged a tour of several cities, and I stayed in various hotels and saw many more. The big ones looked strikingly similar, forcing me to wonder whether all of them had been designed by people using the same blueprint. The light switches and toiletries were all the same and sheets, all white.

My cousins complained that restaurants and businesses that had been in operation for years were being torn down, and there would be nothing and no one left to tell you where they might have gone.

The point is, if the government mandates urbanization at the expense of the historical and cultural aspects of a city, every place ends up looking the same, with nothing special to distinguish one from the other.

LEXALEE, from China Daily blog

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(China Daily 06/25/2014 page9)