In the article “Beijing Forever,”Michael Meyer tells an interesting story of Beijing and Shanghai located in China, which nowadays are the global leaders in almost all spheres of life. The article described the changes of the city since the ancient times up to the today’s statuses and overall environments of the cities. The big part of the text is dedicated to the times of Mao Zedong, who ruled the Peoples’ Republic of China (a former Chinese Empire) between the1930s and late 1970s as the dramatic changes of the Chinese cities started in the time of his ruling. Before the Communist party started ruling China, Beijing used to be a very conservative and rather backward city comparing with virtually all the capitals of other countries, for example Tokyo, Moscow, or London. In the first decades, the initial large changes were associated with building huge factories. Starting with that period, it was decided to turn Beijing not only into a capital but also into a center of industry, arts, and education “since Mao lives here,” as said by the author (Meyer n.p.). That is why the first objects that changed the appearance of the city of traditional Chinese buildings (the design of which had not changed for thousands years) were high smokestacks, which inhabited the skyline in record time. As a result, after the reforms by Deng Xiaoping and the assistance of the Soviet advisors invited to help China in building its industry, Beijing became the center of 149 out of 164 industries existing in China. Today, the local residents even compare Beijing with “a blob of spreading pancake batter.” It is very well said about the enormous growth of the city, which already has 6000 square miles of territory and 6 huge concentric ring motorways that surround the city and help manage the flow of cars (n.p.).
Dustin Roasa in the article “Cities of the Future: Made in China” considers the topic of the latest achievements of the Chinese engineers and industry in general, which cannot leave anyone indifferent. First of all, the article describes the newest Chinese technology pioneered by a local construction company, which allows building super high skyscrapers in the record-breaking time with almost no construction waste. This truly revolutionary technology will be tested in the nearest future in building the highest skyscraper in the world in the southeast of China. In the city of Changsha, the 220-story skyscraper is going to be built in only 90 days. It will outrun the current tallest building in the world – a 160-story Burj Kalifa (UAE) not only in height but also in the period of construction, since the building in Dubai was constructed in more than five years.
Daniel Brook in his article “The Rise, the Fall and Rise of New Shanghai” pointed out another sign of tremendous progress of China. If less than a century ago China looked like a land of cheap labor and backward technologies, today’s country is among the most desired business partners for all countries of the world. The entrepreneurs from all corners of the globe are willing to cooperate with the Chinese companies, which are now becoming more and more influential.
On the other hand, Peter Calthorpe does not share the general excitement over the Chinese super fast progress and building new highways, city blocks, and other elements of infrastructure much faster than it was planned. In the article “Weapons of Mass Urban Destruction”written in 2012, he is very clear about the issue. Even the title tells a lot about the attitude and the vision of all this progress by the author. Looking through the article, the reader understands that he can be right asserting that enormous car boom in PRC can cause the same problem as in the USA of the 1950s – 1960s. At that time, the number of cars due to very similar boom increased significantly and made the USA very dependent on oil from abroad and other energy sources. This issue has caused too many problems to the entire country. The author also says that such a rapid growth of the cities is not good and that there is no reason for happiness since the ecology will suffer a lot. Such situation can lead to a real catastrophe in the future.
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Concerning the urban catastrophe, which is unfortunately inevitable in case of such a rapid growth, one can research the experience of a tiny country called Singapore, where local authorities and citizens are already familiar with this problem and know how to solve it. Patrick L. Phillips, the CEO of Urban Land Institute of Singapore, in the foreword to the book 10 Principles for Liveable High-Density Cities published in 2013, points out such important factors as changing energy costs, population shifts, restructuring markets, housing needs, and demographic situation in general. Singapore knows what the main problem of the too rapid growth of the city is caused by its very limited territory of only 700 square kilometers. That is why, unlike China that has a very large area, Singapore had to learn this lesson much earlier than any other country. As a result, the Urban Land Institute, which was created to cope with this negative trend and its severe outcomes, worked out ten principles that must be followed in order to use the limited territory wisely. These principles include long-term plans for renewal and development of the urban area, embracing diversity and fostering inclusiveness, creating green zones to make people as close to the nature as possible, making affordable multipurpose neighborhoods, providing space to work harder, prioritizing transport using harmless sources of energy (so-called green transport), utilizing nonconventional sources of energy to get electricity and others (13-63). Therefore, these simple steps can save the nature and prevent unwise waste of the resources.