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American Geographical Society

Changing Beijing Author(s): Piper Gaubatz Source: Geographical Review, Vol. 85, No. 1 (Jan., 1995), pp. 79-96 Published by: American Geographical Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/215557 . Accessed: 05/07/2011 13:54
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PIPER GAUBATZ ABSTRACT.Beijing is being transformed from a socialist city of undifferentiated

low-rise districts to an increasingly high-rise metropolis marked by areal specialization. This article examines the effects of recent urban planning, of industrial, commercial, and transportationdevelopment, and of housing construction on the morphology of the city. Elements of change include development zones, new residential areas, increasing motor-vehicle use, and emergence of a new central business district. The evolving form blends new urban-planning ideals, complex landuse and transportation patterns, and private and joint-venture initiatives with elements of traditionaland socialist Chinese urbanism.Keywords: Beijing,China,development zones,housing,socialistcities,transportation, urbanform.

the economic reforms of 1979 the physical representation of socialist ideology and state power imposed on Beijingduring the Mao era has been transformed by ideological, economic, and social changes. Focusing on the rapid transformationof the urban landscape after 1979, this article examines urban-planning strategy and the effect of changes in industry, housing, commerce, and transportation on urban form. Traditional Chinese urban form and socialist urban structurecontinue to shape the city, despite rapid change that is bringing Beijing closer in form to cities in other developing countries. The data presented in this article were collected during fieldwork in 1992,1993, and 1994 as part of a study of recent urban planning and development in Beijing,Shanghai, Xiamen, and Guangzhou.


Beijing is a venerable city steeped in the grandest of northern and imperial traditions. It has served as the national capital for much of the time since the founding of the Liao dynasty in the tenth century A.D. It has been a major regional political center from as early as the WarringStates period (453-221 B.C.). City form in 1949 retained many patterns dating to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) (Hou 1983). The street network and all monumental architecture were aligned with the cardinal directions to conform with Chinese geomancy, and massive crenellated walls bounded most of the site. The stone-faced walls enclosed two adjoining areas: a square imperial city on the north, which contained the walled palace complex as well as the homes and temples of the city's political elites; and
* Research for this article was generously supported by a grant from the Committee on Scholarly Communication with China.

DR. GAUBATZ an assistant professor of geography at the University of Massachusetts, is Amherst, Massachusetts 01003. ? Copyright 1995by theAmerican Geographical Society New York of



a rectangular area on the south, which contained the commercial and common residential districts. Between the few monumental axis roads that traversed the city, residential neighborhoods of courtyard houses were threaded by hutongs-narrow alleyways separating the high, blank walls of the courtyards. The imperial palace, a few monumental structures such as temples and the bell-and-drum towers, and hundreds of hutongs and old neighborhoods still survive. Pre-1949 Beijing had several distinctive districts that serve similar functions today. Two of these districts-the imperial city and the Qianmen-Dazhalan market-date to the Ming dynasty Two late-nineteenthcentury districts also survive: the Wangfujing Street shopping area east of the palace complex, which served as the commercial district for the foreign community, and the university district on the northwest, which developed around the Harvard-YenchingInstitute. TraditionalBeijing, like most Chinese cities, was characterized by a high degree of neighborhood specialization. Members of craft guilds plied their trades as groups in specific neighborhoods. Other neighborhoods specialized in activities ranging from the academic nurturing of the next generation of bureaucratsto the provision of services for foreign legations. Present-day street names often recall past functions.

During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s,Mao Zedong's socialism reshaped the city.New development was structuredaroundlarge walled work-unit compounds, where people lived as small communities centered on the workplace. The compounds consisted of three-to-five-story blocklike buildings that accommodated varied enterprises such as housing, production facilities, dining halls, and infirmaries. In the work-unit-based city,neighborhoods were relatively undifferentiatedby function (Pannell 1980).Chinese cities in the 1949-1978era were planned on the assumption that most residents would rarelyneed to travel beyond their compounds. There were no private cars and few taxis. Wide monumental streets that ranbetween the high compound walls were traversed primarilyby buses, trucks, and bicycles, but trafficwas sparse. Although the Maoist urbanstructurewas realized in newly developed areas,preexisting structures-specifically the complex maze of courtyard housing and winding hutongs-constrained development in the old districts. Many of them remained primarily residential, although they sometimes contained factoriesand other work units. Some work units acquired courtyard houses to subdivide for their employees. Other courtyard houses were subdivided and managed by neighborhood street committees that were similar to work units in providing social services. The ideal called for a generalized urban form, but functional specialization existed, even in newly developed areas. Heavy industries were



concentrated east and south of the central city The northwestern areawas further intensified as a focus of higher education, with the establishment of universities, colleges, and the Academy of Sciences. In the central city, large governmental buildings were constructed primarily west of the imperial place complex. East of it was the concentration of foreign embassies. Nonetheless, the overall form and functional differentiation of the city were highly generalized, in contrast with the specialized city before 1949. Beijing remained centered on a large ceremonial district consisting of the Forbidden City; Zhonganhai, the western part of the imperial palace complex that now contains residences and offices of the political elites; and Tian'anmenSquare, the large public square immediately south of the Forbidden City and modeled after Red Square in Moscow.

Post-1979 urban development has followed a strategy of spatial and functional specialization (C. Wu 1990; Chen 1991; Quan 1991; Gaubatz forthcoming). The goal is to differentiate districts through the use of an east-west division, concentric zones, and multiple-nuclei development (Fig. 1). Bifurcationof the central city provides an eastern half devoted to international activities ranging from embassies to housing and services for the foreign business community and a western half devoted to domestic functions. At the center are the imperial palace complex and Tian'anmen Square(Hu 1993).Anew centralbusiness district is being established in the eastern half of the city as an extension of the embassy district. Beijing has a population of about six million people in its urban districts, which include four inner districts-West City, East City, Xuanwu, and Chongwen-and four outer districts-Haidian, Shijingshan,Fengtai, and Chaoyang. Additionally, about four million people live in ten surrounding rural counties under Beijing'sjurisdiction. Since 1979 urban planning in China has increasingly adopted Western models. Comprehensive master plans are prepared by professional planning bureaus without citizen participation. Two master plans were prepared for Beijing:one in 1982 and the other in 1993. The urban planners are profoundly influenced by analytical frameworks ranging from central-place theory to social-area analysis. These analytical frameworks are taken as models to be emulated. As a result, overlaid on the simple scheme outlined above are several different systems of functional differentiation. Building-height restrictions are applied in a concentric-ring format, with five ring roads, of which only the second and third were complete by 1994, serving as zonal boundaries. The urbanized area is to be surrounded by a low-density greenbelt. Retail centers are laid out hierarchically on the basis of central-place theory: the three main market areas, Xidan, Qianmen, and Wangfujing, at the center, around which



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successively smaller ones are arranged (Yang 1990). District specialization, however, conforms to a multiple-nuclei format,with distinct foci for activities. In addition to replicating these models, planners seek a con-



temporary city, complete with skyscrapers, a concentrated business district, and an automobile-based transportationnetwork. In spite of the planners' best efforts, economic change and development are occurring so rapidly and are facilitated by so many different governmental bureaus that planning must often react to rather than determine trends. The changing profile of Beijing is a good example of the conflict between planning and development interests. In the early 1980s Beijing planners anticipated the spread of high-rise structures in the city and included zones with structure-heightrestrictions in the 1982 comprehensive master plan so that they would not obscure monumental sites. Threeconcentric zones of height restrictionsdefined a bowl-shaped profile for Beijing (ZCJGGS1987, 470-471). However, construction of high-profile joint-venture hotels and office buildings after 1982 contravened these restrictions (Fig. 2). The most spectacular examples are the fifty-two-story Jingguang Center and the fifty-story Capital City Building, both situated in areas zoned for a ten-story maximum height. As a result, the restrictions in the 1993 comprehensive master plan were altered to retain the radially increasing bowl-shaped height profile but to allow for much higher "sides" of the bowl. Restrictions of three stories are fixed around the Forbidden City and of ten stories within the Second Ring Road, but no height limitation is stated for structures around and beyond the Third Ring Road.

The most concerted effort to create specialized districts is the establishment of development zones. Beijing has established thirty industrialdevelopment zones and six commercial-development zones. Thirteen of the industrial zones and all of the commercial ones are in the inner and outer urban districts (Yiand others 1993,133-136). The Haidian, Shangdi, and Fengtai Park industrial-development zones illustrate the process. The Zhongguancun area in Haidian District emerged as a center for high-technology activities during the early 1980s, when computer stores and university-related research institutes were established partly at the instigation of faculty and staff of the thirty-eight higher-education institutions in the district. The retail computer outlets initially comprised three blocks of tiny shops. During the late 1980s, however, the pace of development increased dramatically.In 1985the Beijinggovernment established the Zhongguancun Electric Street to provide economic incentive for retail ventures. In 1988 the city expanded the area spatially and functionally by declaring it a special zone for new high-technology-oriented industries, with tax exemptions and other preferential treatment, such as import-export licenses and tax advantages for joint ventures between Chinese and foreigners. The planners of the zone, some of whom toured American



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high-technology areas during the early 1990s, are attempting to create a Chinese version of Silicon Valleyby encouraging strong linkages between higher education and local high-technology industries (Sun 1993).



The Haidian special zone is now crowded with computer stores. Billboards for foreign or joint-venture products stand next to advertisements for Chinese products. The business activity in the area, together with the university population, has made it one of the few locations in Beijing to merit a concentration of fast-food joint ventures. Other retail activity is also increasing, and the zone is acquiring a sleek, contemporary look with blocks of busy stores, mirrored facades, and bright lights. Though still lagging behind planners' projections, activities in research and product innovation have increased markedly in the zone, especially through a wide variety of Sino-foreign joint ventures. However, research is still confined chiefly to the higher-education institutions, and manufacturing is largely relegated to distant sites. The special zone is being linked with two other zones: the Shangdi Information Industry Base, to the north but within Haidian District, and an experimental zone in Fengtai District, to the south, for a high-technology industrial park. This site, located near a soon-to-be-opened passenger-and-freight railroad station, is to be the manufacturing and distribution center for products originating in the special zone. The Shangdi zone is to combine manufacturing and research. By 1994 the special zone was functional, but Shangdi was still struggling to attract investment. Fengtai Parkis scheduled for completion in 1995.These three zones, all west of the Third Ring Road, are to form an integrated corridor. This complex resembles neither the isolated, integrated TsukubaScience City in Japannor the piecemeal, sprawling development of Silicon Valley. Moreover, unlike its models, the special zone seems to be substituting foreign investment for the substantial defense contracting and domestic sources that played a role in the development of the high-technology industry in the United States. The location of other industrial activities in Beijing is also changing. New industrial concentrations are found in southern and southeastern Beijing, such as in the Yizhuang industrial zone, which is one of seven development zones along the recently completed Beijing-Tianjin expressway. The trend has been to move industry, especially large-scale or noxious varieties, from the central city to outlying areas. In 1980 the ratio of industrial landuse in the inner-city districts to that in the outer districts was 1:20.4;by 1989 it was 1:41.7(Wu 1992, 46).

In 1949 Beijing, like all large Chinese cities, had substantial slums and sizable areas of substandard self-built housing. Many neighborhoods lacked electricity, clean water, and adequate sanitary facilities. These problems were exacerbated immediately after 1949 when masses of migrants built single-story, poor-quality housing in open areas throughout the city. Substantial progress was made during the 1950s to provide



housing. Eventually all residents were allocated housing either in new structures provided by their work units or in former single-family courtyard houses that had been subdivided by the government for multiple occupancy Neighborhoods, though often not individual homes, were provided with electricity, water, and sanitary facilities. Ideally, workers were housed on the site of their work unit. Nonetheless, by the late 1970s Beijing faced a housing shortage. Children who had hitherto lived with their parents were seeking their own homes after marriage;large numbers of people were returning to the city after years spent in rural areas during the cultural revolution; and rising numbers of people seeking employment were migrating to the city. Very little housing had been constructed since the early 1960s (Kirkby1985,173-175; Kojima1987,36), in part because the state had deliberately underinvested in housing in order to discourage urban population growth. Much of the existing housing stock was badly in need of repair.The 1976Tangshanearthquake worsened the situation: damage to many old courtyard houses left them unsuitable for habitation. In addition, many of the structuresbuilt in the 1950s had deteriorated. Efforts to address the problem in old districts are complicated by planners' and architects' concerns about the preservation of traditional courtyard housing. Courtyard houses have been designated for preservation in several areas,with the largest concentrationin the central-northern section of the old city between the bell tower and the Anding Gate. Across most of the city,however, the subdivision of courtyardhouses has made them virtually unsalvageable for preservation. In addition, the demand for better-quality housing usually prevails over preservation efforts. Nonetheless, great pride is taken in the projects that retain the spirit of traditional Chinese architecturethrough stylistic references. Planners have initiated three types of housing change since 1979: redevelopment of older districts, establishment of new districts, and privatization. The dilapidated neighborhoods slated for redevelopment in recent years strongly resemble slums to the extent that they lack basic infrastructure, are overcrowded, and contain many poor-quality structures. Beijing has approximately six million square meters of such housing, 75 percent of which is in the four central urban districts (Cao 1994a). Two processes account for the crowding that occurred in most of these neighborhoods after 1949. Courtyardhousing was subject to occupation and infilling as private homes were redistributed and subdivided; and construction by migrants created areas of ramshackle one-story houses and lean-tos built in crude imitation of traditional courtyard-style housing (L. Wu 1990, 5). Most courtyard houses long since have lost their courtyards to infilling. A courtyard house that once was home to one extended family may now shelter as many as forty families. In the most crowded, still primarily low-rise districts south of Tian'anmen Square,



population densities rise to more than 57,000 people per square kilometer (Gan 1990, 361). Since the mid-1980s Beijing has embarked on several schemes in the central urban districts to replace poor-quality housing with low-rise, community-centered, architecturallyvaried projects.Some few are showcases that blend Chinese and Western architectural styles; the rest, by Western standards, are utilitarian and boxlike constructions. Among the showcase projects are three sites in the former walled-city area:Xiaohoucang, Ju'er Hutong, and Hubeikou. Each project contains low-to-medium-rise structuresset in courtyardsand surrounding landscaped areas. In contrast with the geometrically repetitive work-unit housing, the facades are varied with different-sized windows, balconies, and overhangs. Unlike much pre-1979 housing, each apartment has its own kitchen and toilet. These projects use preexistent social and service infrastructure such as schools and health-care facilities. They are usually occupied either by long-time area residents or by new residents whose employers have purchased apartments in the projects. In some cases former residents were given money to purchase housing elsewhere or were relocated to other housing under their employers' control. Xiaohoucang, a project southeast of the Xizhi Gate subway station, was a large, open field with some adjacent courtyard housing in 1949. Migrants from northern China settled there soon afterward and built small shacks. Access to basic infrastructurewas limited at first, but over the years electricity, a few public water taps, toilets, and showers were installed. When redevelopment began, approximately 300 households with an average living space of 4.7 square meters per person resided there (Long 1992, 62). The completed project provides 347 apartments in oneto-six story white cement structures with Chinese-style tile roofs. The apartments house from two to four people and range in size from forty square meters to fifty-six square meters (Huang, Guan, and Shi 1989,22). Ground-floor units have small private courtyards and gardens, a rare luxury in Beijing. Although the project deserves praise for its attention to traditional features such as south-facing orientation and stylistic references to traditional housing, some cost-cutting measures render it outdated. Forexample, only one building is equipped with showers or baths in the units; residents of other buildings must use public facilities. Projectdesigners did not anticipate a need for motor-vehicle parking, so sidewalks and lawns are used for parking. Beijing has experienced a major housing-construction boom since 1979. More than fifteen million square meters of housing were built between 1979 and 1982 alone (Duan 1989, 584). Most of it is on former agricultural land beyond the Third Ring Road and has involved massive relocation of people from the city center. This movement has been



facilitated by the declining importance of proximity of housing and workplace. Nearly all employers still provide housing or housing subsidies, but direct proximity of residence and workplace is no longer expected. New housing developments are groups of high-rise structures with parks, playgrounds, and other public facilities. Each structure houses workers from many different employers who tend to purchase apartments by floors, so that employees still live adjacent to coworkers. One of the most spectacularexamples of a new high-rise group is Fangzhuang, a new town of 148hectaresfor 76,000residents southeast of the old walled city (Fig. 3). In addition to housing, Fangzhuang contains schools, retail shops, playgrounds, parks, and a community center.In 1984 two agricultural villages with a population of about 1,000 occupied the site. Former residents have been rehoused in one of the ninety new apartment towers. The project has a mixture of building heights and styles, from two-story condominiums to thirty-story high-rise apartment towers (FP 1990). Large and influential work units, most notably the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Public Security Bureau, and the Ministry of Sanitation, have purchased large numbers of apartments, which puts the area high in status and prestige. In 1994the managers of the projectbegan to advertise apartments in the ChinaDaily, an English-language newspaper, for sale to members of the foreign community. This practice was quite unusual because previously most large-scale housing projects had been intended for either Chinese or foreigners. In this case an areaprimarily for Chinese residents was opened to foreigners. Fangzhuang, like many of the other new high-rise housing projects, represents a fundamental change in planning philosophy, because it does not combine employment and housing on site. Residents commute. These new projects function much like public-transportation-dependent suburbs in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, Fangzhuang and similar projects differ substantially from American suburbs. A better analogy for the high-rise characteristic is housing projects in the new territories of Hong Kong. Most housing in Beijing is still subsidized by employers or the city government. Moreover, there remains a high level of social organization in the project. Committees of residents manage aspects of life ranging from garbage collection and elevator operation to family planning, health care, and day care. In this sense newly built projects like Fangzhuang still reflect socialist ideals.
OFHOUSING The Chinese government now encourages construction of privately developed and sold "commodity" housing. A national mandate announced in January 1994 placed a priority on privatization. Widespread




apartments in Fangzhuang. (Photograph by the author)

private ownership has been slowed, however, by low income levels, especially among the state employees who constitute the majority of the work force. Less than one-tenth of Beijing residents own their housing (Zong 1994). In the mid-1990s the commodization of housing refers primarily to the process by which employers are purchasing housing in new projects and renting it to employees at subsidized rates. Most residents still consider housing as a perquisite of employment. An increasingly common pattern is for one spouse to hold a position in a state enterprise, which provides housing, health care, and other benefits, while the other takes a higher-paying position in a private venture without benefits. However, if income levels continue to rise in China, private family housing, mostly in multifamily buildings, will become much more common than it has been. The companies that produce new commodity housing are mainly enterprises formed by the city's district governments. In some cases these enterprises are an amalgamation of previously separate work units: the district government supplies the land and permits, the other partners supply labor and capital. Some foreign partners have become involved in providing low- and middle-income housing (Cao 1994a).




After 1949Beijingplanners were far more concerned with defining the city as a political and cultural center than with its commercial and retail activities (Hu 1993,46). It was enough to provide each residential district with a commercial service bureau to supply everyday consumer goods that were not already available through work units. The commercial landscape all but disappeared as shops closed or became outlets for rationed commodities. Since 1979 commercial activity in Beijing, as in all Chinese cities, has increased dramatically. The three large commercial areas of the pre-1949era-Wangfujing, Qianmen, and Xidan-are undergoing massive renovation. Local marketing centers also flourish. Small shops and department stores predominate, many being revitalized staterun enterprises. However, the number of privately operated stores is

During the 1980s the basic retail structure comprised three main downtown commercial areas;five additional primary shopping areas on the eastern, southern, western, northwestern, and northern sides of the city; and thirty secondary shopping areas scattered throughout the city (Duan 1989, 584). Wangfujing,Qianmen, and Xidan retain much of their past distinctive character:Wangfujingcaters to the foreign community; Qianmen serves local markets and Chinese tourist; and Xidan appeals to residents of the western part of Beijing. In the early reformyears, free marketswith simple stalls where private entrepreneurs sold produce and later durable goods began to appear in Beijing. Although these markets continue as a popular and lively aspect of the urban landscape, increasing numbers of private entrepreneurs are moving from the free-marketstalls to substantial specialty shops that are being constructed throughout the city along street fronts and, in many cases, filling in space between work-unit walls and the streets. A fleeting but nonetheless interesting feature of the retail landscape is the small booths that areroutinely erected between sidewalks and fences surrounding large construction sites. The small shops operate until construction is completed and then move elsewhere in the city. Sino-foreign joint ventures also have an enhanced role in the Beijing retail landscape. These ventures are concentrated in the eastern half of the city: one area is near the Friendship Store east of the Second Ring Road, and the other is near the GreatWallHotel and the LufthansaCenter, at the northeastern corner of the Third Ring Road. Most joint ventures cater to both foreign and local customers. The largest in the Friendship Store area is Yaohan, a Japanese-style department store with a grocery outlet in the basement. The shopping mall at the World TradeCenter, a few blocks east, offers an American-style shopping environment. The Friendship Store, which has until very recently retained the form and flavor of a state-run store, now allows foreign fast-food franchises along



its street front. The LufthansaCenter provides European-style shopping, and the LandmarkTowers features a shopping mall and the Beijing Hard Rock Cafe. A few joint-venture outlets such as Pizza Hut and Vie de France are scattered throughout the city.

When China began to open to foreign business after 1979, it had virtually no facilities in Beijingfor the foreign business population, except some large, rambling hotels originally built for Soviet advisers during the 1950s. Foreignerswere allowed to live and conduct business only in those hotels or in facilities designated for the diplomatic community.As tourist hotels were erected during the 1980s, foreign businesses began to rent rooms in them for offices and for employee housing. In the late 1980s, however, facilities for foreigners increased rapidly with the proliferation of hotels, some containing offices and apartments in addition to standard rooms (Fig. 4). Even single-family houses were constructed for foreigners. Foreign-oriented retail centers, restaurants, golf courses, health clubs, and other facilities were also opened. This speculative construction oriented toward the internationalcommunity is funded primarilyby foreign capital. The foreign business community is small, an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 persons, but its effect on the landscape is substantial. Planners have directed most foreign-oriented development to the embassy district, which has transformed this eastern area with high-rise structures and busy traffic patterns. Although there are still restrictions on where foreigners may reside, carry out business, and own property,these locations are becoming more diverse. The planning bifurcation of the city is beginning to weaken, as developments for the foreign community arise in western districts. The three main types of foreigner-oriented developments are office towers, multiuse commercial-residentialcomplexes, and apartments and single-family tract houses. The earliest of the office towers date from the mid-1980s. The largest projectsare the multipurpose centers, of which the World Trade Center is a prominent example. It comprises two hotels, a convention center, two office towers, two apartment buildings, a shopping mall, and a health club. A striking new form in the 1990s is the large tracts of expensive single-family houses constructed for foreigners on the outskirts of the city, generally north of the Fourth Ring Road. Most are designed to resemble North American tract developments, but some contain Chinese-style courtyard houses. The tracts are isolated from the Chinese, and residents must commute by automobile to the city. Because of the isolation, the tractshave ancillary services such as shopping centers and recreational facilities. Most purchasers are either foreign businesses or overseas Chinese.




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Most planners consider transportationto be the most serious planning problem in Beijing. As the distance between housing, employment, and specialized districts expands, increasing numbers of people are traveling the city's streets. Bicycles were once considered the ideal medium of most recently contransportaon. With the exception of expresswaysw, structed roads have bike lanes that are as wide as the vehicular ones, but planners now refer to bicycles as a problem, not a solution. Almost seven million bicycles are in the city.,more than double the number in 1978. Many resildentsnow contend that only the poor and recent migrants ride the ever-crowded buses. This shift is a concern because twelve bicycles require as much road space as a 100-passenger bus. Bicycles are now a main factor in traffic congestion (Zhao, Rouphail, and Paaswell 1987, 26; En 1990, 4). Since 1979the composition of traffichas altered considerably (Fig. 5). Withthe exceptionof commutehoursthe number of passengers in motor vehicles at any one time exceeds the number of bicycle riders. The volume of motor-vehicle traffic along the Third Ring Road has been reported at more than 10,000vehicles per hour (Cao 1994b).Conspicuous among the increasing numbers of motor vehicles are taxis,, low-cost taxis called miandi,jitneys, and automobiles. Through the 1970s buses and taxis were the only public motor transportation. In 1985 jitneys with a capacity of



fifteen passengers were introduced (BSJTN1986, 172); now they are a common means of transportation. Few of the automobiles on the streets are privately owned; they are taxis or work-unit-owned vehicles. The demand for private automobiles is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years (Chang 1994). Industrial readjustmentis one consequence; others are parking, pollution, and space for movement. The most startling change in transportationhas been the advent of the miandi, which are small 5-passenger vans that ply the streets as cheap taxis. They first arrived in Beijing in 1991, and their numbers more than doubled during the winter of 1992 and the spring of 1993, when law changes made to improve the city's transportationfacilities for its Olympic Games bid allowed any work unit to operate a taxi service (BN 1993, 648). During peak hours the miandi constitute more than one-half of the motor-vehicular traffic at majorintersections. Planners are seeking to improve both the highway and the mass-transit systems. Toimprove the now-strained road system, the city is upgrading the ring roads (Fig. 6). Expressways have been completed to the airport and to Tianjin.Improvement of bus service focuses on additional vehicles and experiments with different types of equipment. Nonetheless, the volume of traffic is expanding faster than the ability of planning agencies to contend with it. A subway system is one response. Currently there are two lines: a loop route that follows the path of the old city wall, and an east-west route from Xidan to the western districts. Expansionwill eventually provide ten lines.

The transformation of the structure and landscape of Beijing is surprising in both speed and extent. Beijing in the mid-1990s differs fundamentally from the city in 1949 or in 1979. It is becoming increasingly similar in form and functions to cities elsewhere in Asia and the developing world. Changes reflect both shifts in planning philosophy and policy and external influences and capitalization. In a remarkably short time Beijing has experienced proliferation of high-rise architecture and its incorporation as a main feature of the expanding centralbusiness district; separation of residential and industrial areas, the development of mixed residential and commercial neighborhoods, economic differentiation of neighborhoods, creation of enclaves for foreigners, industrial-development zones, adjustments to accommodate additional vehicular traffic, and beginnings of a subway system. The main change since 1979 is the transition from a relatively undifferentiated functional and visual landscape to one of increasing diversity and specialization. Many aspects of the urban morphology of the city reflect this transformation. Differentiation of districts through designation of planning areas channels investment and construction to the ad-




FIG.5-New the author)

traffic mix in Beijing. Small van-shaped taxis (miandi) predominate. (Photograph by

FIG.6-The Second Ring Road (southeastern section) with the Hubeikou project mn background. A passenger train crosses the bridge over the road, and a landscaped strip separates the bicycle lane (far left) and the lanes for vehicular traffic. (Photograph by the author)



vantage of some areas at the expense of others. The process has been facilitated by the adoption of planning theories and practices from the West, especially the United States and Canada; the increased role of private investment and joint ventures; privatization of property, and rising expectations and standards of living. Although Beijingis increasingly Westernized in appearance, it continues to bear the stamp of the past. The contemporary city is focused on the traditional ceremonial axis and center, in spite of the socialist addition of Tian'anmen Square. If current restrictions are enforced, the pre-1949 walled city will remain an area of two- or three-story buildings with few high-rise structures.The historical pattern of streets, walls, and neighborhoods continues to influence the morphology of the present-day city. Socialist urban form is also retained. The state continues to play a key role in planning. Beijingas yet has no large slums or squatter settlements, because temporary migrants, referred to as the floating population, are usually accommodated in existent buildings. Provision of housing continues to be strongly tied to employment, although spatial linkages between housing and workplace are waning. Single-family housing is virtually nonexistent, except for the houses built for the foreign community. The government continues to own and control nearly all land in the city and limits the forms and locations of foreign ownership and investment. Beijingin the 1990sblends market-drivendevelopment with socialist and traditional Chinese urban morphology The emerging form is as distinctive as the pre-1949 or the socialist city. However, in a country where political policy has dramatically shaped and reshaped urban form and where economic change is occurring at an unprecedented rate, it remains to be seen whether the new form endures.
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