No uni­form ur­ban­iza­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

Only through people-cen­tered ur­ban­iza­tion can res­i­dents be­come at­tached to the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment and de­velop a sense of be­long­ing and thus serve as a ma­jor force in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the ur­ban­iza­tion process, said a People’s Daily com­men­tary on Thurs­day.

As a coun­try with a long his­tory and im­mense di­ver­sity in people, ter­rain and cli­mate, China boasts nu­mer­ous cul­tural towns and vil­lages of vary­ing shape and size.

These towns and vil­lages, es­pe­cially the an­cient ones, are an im­por­tant part of the coun­try’s his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural her­itage.

They are mu­se­ums of ar­chi­tec­ture and store­houses of cul­ture, hav­ing wit­nessed the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and evo­lu­tion in so­cial cus­toms that have trans­formed China in dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal pe­ri­ods.

Pre­serv­ing the orig­i­nal style and the cul­tural her­itage of these towns and vil­lages in the ur­ban­iza­tion process will con­sol­i­date China’s cul­tural foun­da­tions and pro­tect tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture at its source.

Over the years, nu­mer­ous an­cient towns and vil­lages na­tion­wide have fallen into de­cay and dis­re­pair with the tran­si­tion from an agrar­ian to in­dus­trial to in­for­ma­tion so­ci­ety.

Some have sur­vived only to fall prey to the tourism de­vel­op­ment craze, while oth­ers, un­der the slo­gan of build­ing a new so­cial­ist coun­try­side, have had their build­ings de­mol­ished and then re­built anew.

People’s ex­cite­ment at the brand-new ur­ban land­scape, how­ever, has been rather short-lived as it can­not make up for the en­su­ing sense of loss and even con­fu­sion as the places people used to call home no longer ex­ist even though in many cases they ap­pear the same.

The Ger­man poet and philoso­pher Ge­org Philipp Friedrich Frei­herr von Har­den­berg, who wrote un­der the pen name of No­valis, once said that phi­los­o­phy is es­sen­tially home­sick­ness, the urge to be at home every­where.

As China steadily presses ahead with its new type of ur­ban­iza­tion, Chi­nese people also have the urge to “feel at home” in the ur­ban­iza­tion process.

There­fore, it is es­sen­tial, as the re­cent Na­tional New-Type of Ur­ban­iza­tion Plan (2014-20) re­leased by the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China and the State Coun­cil pointed out, that ur­ban­iza­tion should be ad­vanced, with the his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural con­texts and ge­o­graph­i­cal fea­tures and eth­nic char­ac­ter­is­tics of dif­fer­ent re­gions taken into full ac­count, to main­tain di­ver­sity in the ur­ban­iza­tion process and avoid ur­ban con­struc­tion of sim­i­lar or even uni­form de­sign.

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