Neighborhood Development and Destruction in China


Americans learned the hard way in the 1950’s and 60’s that city planning and urban renewal can destroy neighborhoods and cities.  This is not always the case but bulldozing buildings and neighborhoods can destroy culture and history that cannot be replaced. China is seeing development on a scale that is unimaginable to most people in other countries.  Part of this development has seen some major destruction.

The Big Build:

recent article brought out that China is building massive high rises with mutiple completions of sky scrapers being finished every day.  Right now 6 of the tallest buildings in the world were built in China.   There is a belief that over 50,000 skyscrapers will be built by 2025 in China.

Fallout is Real:

When there is building there is often destruction. Sometimes it is positive destruction that removes blight.  However; with the scale of building being undertaken in China it is hard to believe that some of the development is not negatively affecting the cities throughout the country.  A few years ago 180,00 were affected when major developments in Beijing were started.  There is an incredible amount of money going into this building.  The Chinese economy has benefited from this massive infrastructure investment which may further stoke the fires of urban renewal.

Recently an article in the Wired  showed that an entire neighborhood in China was completely desultory within 10 minutes to further new development.  Another article in The Atlantic brings out that many of Beijing’s historical courtyard alleyways have been getting destroyed with as many as 600 disappearing a year. That displaced nearly a half million residents.   The default is to build massive skyscrapers and get rid of the old.  Many within the country are lamenting these losses and believe the history of the city and country are being wiped out for modern massive new architecture that kills community.

The Los Angeles Times highlighted the destruction of many communities within China and how hundreds of older restaurants, businesses and generational enterprises are wiped out in a matter of days in the hope of urban renewal.   In some instances, it seems as though the ruling communist party is using urban renewal as a scheme to destroy religion.  In Larung Gar Tibetan Buddisht area once had thousands of small homes for munks, nuns and others who had a strong faith.  Over 10,000 were displaced when bulldozers started ripping everything down.  This was done with tourist in mind.  New roads, parking structures and

In the hills around the revered Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist academy were once a seamless carpet of vibrant red, dominated by the homes of thousands of monks, nuns and devotees who crowded the remote valley in southwest China to explore their faith.  Some people there received as little as $700 for their homes.  The bottom line is that the destruction is hurting many around the country and destroying a lot of the history.

Citizen Push Back:

Many of the citizens are pushing back against all of the changes and demanding that the government stop the destruction of neighborhoods and listen more to the citizens of the country.


The best neighborhoods are ones that grown organically.  The massive pre-planned developments taking place in China might be adding new quality stock but at what price?  The Chinese government will need to decide if the scorch earth policy is going to leave China looking back at a legacy of development that destroyed it’s wonderful history and architecture.

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