China’s Winter welfare
For China’s northerners who are able to wearT-shirts and summer pajamas indoors during the coldest times of the year, it is hard to imagine how much determination it takes for southerners to leave the warmth of their bed in the morning. When China launched its winter central heating network in the early 1950s – when the country was bent on learning from the Soviet Union in its infrastructural and social construction – a serious lack of energy and resources resulted in a decision that central heating would only be provided in the north, northeast and northwest of the country to ensure an average indoor temperature hovering between 16℃ and 18℃. One of the 156 key state-run projects operated with Soviet assistance, was the construction of the first thermal power plant in Beijing in 1957.The year 1958 saw the ground breaking for the construction of the first steam pipeline for use in the central heating system. Chang’an Pipeline, a key part of the Chang’an Street in Beijing, was built in
nd 1959, and has since been providing faithful, high quality heating for the Zhongnanhai area, the capital city’s ‘heart’. Under the Soviet system, winter only officially arrived when the outdoor temperature fell to 5℃ (or below), and, at the time, the regions that met the criteria were in the country’s north, northwest and northeast, where more than 90 days in a year met the criteria. Historically, China’s south has always been slightly warmer than the north, so such a decision seemed reasonable. China’s governmentsubsidized central heating in winter has only been available to northerners ever since, but as climate change prompts lower temperatures nationwide and as a result has brought a growing number of cities in southern China into the ‘cold zone’, there have been growing calls for expanding the ‘winter welfare’ to the south. In 2008, most of Hunan province experienced subzero temperatures, and in 2009, Shanghai recorded temperatures of -8℃ . In 2014, more than 17,000 households in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province, used underfloor radiant heating. A range of other factors affects people's sense of feeling cold, such as humidity and wind speed. For every 10 percent rise in humidity, people feel as though the temperature has fallen by about 1 degree. Interestingly, China’s central heating regime did not truly copy the ‘Soviet mode’ that had no geographical division involved from its beginning. The south-north classification was, somewhat misappropriated, based on what was proposed by Zhang Xiangwen, the first chair of today’s China Geographical Society, in 1908 for agricultural consideration.