A Tale of Two Chinas,
by photographer James Whitlow Delano
Whole swaths of cities have vanished
, to be transformed with developments that have quickly made them look more like Houston, Qatar, or Singapore than the ancient China
of our mind's eye. The old hutong, or alleyways, of Beijing that once formed a mosaic of passageways and the siheyuan, or walled courtyard houses, have been largely razed
. The old brick rowhouses of Shanghai, are now being leveled and replaced by modern high-rises. Traditional marketplaces, residential neighborhoods
, streets where medicine shops or bookstores bunched together, are now either gone or have been rouged up as tourist destinations
, part of a new synthetic, virtual version of China's incredible past.
The energy fueling this transformation bespeaks a powerful but often blind, unquestioning faith
in an inchoate idea of progress that takes one's breath away
, often literally. (Unrestrained growth has left China with the dubious honor of having 9 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world). Delano
's new book is
"Empire: Impressions from China
". More inside.
posted by matteo
on Feb 17, 2005 -