July 01, 2009

Kashgar's Wrecking Ball

Kashgar in far western Xinjiang Autonomous Region may well become the most important logistics hub in western China someday. Work is already underway to at some point in the medium to long term connect the city with the Gwadar port in Pakistan. It is a city of the future and an important area to watch as China acts out its version of 19th Century America's 'manifest destiny'.

As they say in China you have to tear down the old to build the new often with good results all 'round. But sometimes the very essence of a place is lost in the process. This writer was saddened by the crass demolition and rebuild of the ancient shopping area south of Qian Men gate in Beijing. An interesting, if dilapidated, collection of buildings and narrow alleys was replaced with a garish Hong Kong meets Hollywood fakery that destroyed all its original charm.

Kashgar is busy redeveloping its old city - a huge tangle of old buildings and alleys built around extended family homes connected to shops and businesses organized around central courtyards, an urban form as old as Eurasia itself - into modern highrise blocks with plumbing and electricity for all. Beijing wants no repeat of last year's Sichuan earthquake catastrophe with its collapsed buildings and massive fatalities. An added feature -- whereas before you had to meander a block to find a certain shop, the new developments will feature streetside shops and markets....

Labels: ,

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]