What did we learn from President Xi Jinping’s tour of Beijing on Tuesday?
Among other places, he visited some siheyuan where many poor families live, and the urban planning exhibition hall.
In the urban planning exhibition hall, he was reported to have said: “Netizens have suggested to me that we should have ‘as much useless space’ as possible in a city, which I think should be green and open space.”
Tuesday’s Beijing was heavily polluted with smog. By going out into the open and into ordinary people’s dilapidated homes, he showed he breathed the same air as everyone else in the city and that he was keen on restoring a beautiful environment to the people. His mentioning of “useless space” was not to be taken lightly. He meant to build a Beijing no longer crowded with cars and chimneys that are the culprits of smog.
By visiting ordinary families crowded in low-lying siheyuan, he also showed his love of the traditional architecture of Beijing that, in my opinion, was so much more eco-friendly than modern high-rises. Indeed, when I visited Beijing last week after many years of absence, I was surprised to find that low-lying siheyuan dominated many parts of downtown areas, in contrast to many other Chinese cities aspiring to grow taller and taller.