Will China rebuild its cities so they become people friendly?

June 12, 2019

Most cities were built to be friendly to cars and not people, but there is a growing movement to change that. The April 2019 issue of National Geographic Magazine (NGM) published “To build the cities of the future, we must get out of our cars

Countries across the world, including the United States and China, or starting to build and/or rebuild cities to turn them people friendly.

The first page of the 20-minute read NGM piece started with, “SHANGHAI, CHINA Near the center of this city of 24 million, China’s largest, the Yanan expressway crosses under the North-South Expressway. The country has gained half a billion city dwellers since 1990—and nearly 190 million cars. ‘It’s truly almost incomprehensible what happened in China,’ says American urban designer Peter Calthorpe, who has worked there extensively. With nearly 300 million more people expected in cities by 2030, Chinese planners say they’re changing course, prioritizing walkable streets and public transit over cars. …

Chinese planners say they’re changing course, prioritizing walkable streets and public transit over cars.

“The key test may come in Xiongan, a 680-square-mile stretch of swampy land, including a heavily polluted lake, about 65 miles southwest of Beijing. In April 2017 President Xi Jinping announced, again to general surprise, that he wanted to build a new city there. Ultimately it could house five million people and relieve congestion and pollution in Beijing.”

The guide for building these people-friendly cities is the Emerald Cities Rule book, and China is in the best position to build these cities.

“Emerald Cities: Planning for Smart and Green China,” published in 2017 lays out green building and sustainability practices for low-carbon city planning and construction in China and abroad. Emerald Cities proposes 10 principles to help set a new development direction for Chinese cities: from urban growth boundaries and transit-oriented development, to small blocks with accessible public space and car control, to green buildings and sustainable infrastructure at constructive detailed planning and community levels. The 10 principles aim to establish green, healthy and economic vibrant cities, while solving pollution and livability challenges faced by China’s cities. Emerald Cities was jointly published by China Sustainable Transportation Center and Glumac with support from Energy Foundation and Energy Innovation.”

What do U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration want to build? Trump wants to build a wall that will divide people and promote hate and segregation while he holds rallies across the U.S. promoting hate and segregation.

However, the U.S. also has the possibility offered by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal that is similar to what Xi Jinping wants to do in China, so there is still hope for America to join China in making the world people friendly instead of focused on hate, segregation, and greed.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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