Tuesday, August 10, 2010

China Lecture 2 question

In 100 words or less, please answer the following question, drawing on the past two lectures on China:

What is the most significant challenge/issue facing China in your opinion?


  1. The most significant challenge facing China in terms of sustainable development is political will, direction and the driving forces behind decision makers. As Jimmy pointed out, China has many regulatory policies regarding resource management and development controls. However, if the driving force behind decision makers is single focused and the system lacks in 'checks and balances' then having a raft of policies and development controls is fruitless.
    I did consider China’s population a challenge, but I think it can only be a challenge if it is considered to be an obstacle.

  2. Katherine (Katie) Round 4643038August 10, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    I quite agree with Tania's comment as there appears to be some level of corruption with developers over there. Another key challenge I would like to add is how to empower the communities to get involved in influencing land use decisions (dencentralising some power). It appears to be all up to the decision-makers at the moment to the detriment of communities (as seen in some examples Jimmy showed). Community empowerment could act as a 'check' in the system and ensure that planning decisions create better outcomes. It was interesting to hear in the lecture how the education system does provide the people with knowledge to understand particular planning issues, however people are not willing or do not have the power to change how planning occurs there.

  3. I believe rectifying and preventing environmental degradation the most significant challenge facing China. It is evident that industrialisation, urbanisation and rapid population growth has resulted in significant environmental degradation.

    China faces a challenge in rectifying degradation and protecting the environment (the basis of their culture, society and economy), whilst it continues to grow as an economic power house and develop world class cities. This also presents as an opportunity for China, to rectify (to the best possible) past degradation and become a leader in sustainable technology development and application. In order to achieve this there needs to be the political will and supporting frameworks (in particular sound enforcement- remove corruption), public support and education.

  4. I found it very interesting how Jimmy Zhuang seemed critical of China’s symbolic architecture projects, such as the national theatre, because they look so stereotypically Western or seem to lack obvious relation to Chinese culture and yet, he was concerned with preserving some very Western looking buildings including, I think he said, an old American embassy building. (?) From what little I know about Chinese culture, I feel that a strong part of the Chinese identity is tied to a relation to the environment. Therefore it seems ironic to me that the discussion is about which buildings to preserve when it seems that China should be much more worried about preserving their natural landscape which, to me, seems to have more cultural significance. I find it very scary that China is now the world’s leader in CO2 emissions because, based on the lecture, it seems that even if good environmental planning policies are put in place, corruption within the system will render them trivial. However, with China destined to be the next global economic power and with urbanization ever increasing, I think they have the potential to make a big turnaround towards sustainability, perhaps by embracing environmental concerns as a part of their cultural identity.

  5. Kimberley Edmonds 4992625

    From my fairly limited knowledge, it seems that a challenge facing China is the cumulative effects of their continued abuse of the natural environment. Urbanisation has concreted over what was once vegetated land. The Gobi deserts’ sand now poses serious issues as it drifts uninterrupted into cities due to deforestation. In general, Chinas economic growth has been sustained through the misuse of its natural resources.

    The issue with environmental degradation, including increasing Co2 emissions, is that they are causing valid health concerns. It’s all very well relying on a booming economy to outweigh the deteriorating landscape, but for how long will Chinas robust economy keep the people ‘happy’? Businesses want profit, they want cheap labour, but as more people challenge the government about their working conditions, wages rise thus increasing the cost to the business owner. A future shift of mass manufacturing offshore is feasible to places like India or even Africa where labour is cheaper, consequently Chinas economy loses out to other countries and they may not always be the main player in the globe, though they’ve sacrificed their environment to get there.

  6. Respond to Anne's comments:
    Regarding to the architectural projects and historic building preservation, I think I did not state the two topics very clear.

    Two topics are very much related to the urban context. Different urban contexts have different architectural environment. For example, Beijing, the city has more than 500 years of feudalistic development, where its urban design and architecture has always been associated with traditional Chinese ideologies (ones we discussed in the 1st lecture). It is my personal view, that the urban context and other 4Cs (from Urban Design Protocol) shall be considered in urban planning processes. Some Chinese cities which were influenced and developed by a number of western countries (e.g. Shanghai, Xiamen, parts of Fuzhou and etc.) have had clear and distinctive urban context as well as other 4Cs. These cities and their urban environment were also a part of China's urban history. The building I talked about in the 2nd lecture, the former American Consulate in Fuzhou, was and still is located in an urban environment where are highly westernised. I believe I talked a little bit about the reasons and backgrounds for this kind of westernisation in the 1st China lecture. Urban planning in relation to preservation of historic places is a very complex topic. Some places have significances among their history, architecture, engineering, aesthetic or culture. Therefore, I would say the construction of the National Theatre and preservation of the former American Consulate in Fuzhou shall be considered from different angles.

    In addition, I would like to indicate the relationship between the movement of architecture symbolism, urban villages and some other environmental and social issues that we discussed in the 3rd lecture. I do not think I sufficiently talked about this. But I think it is not difficult to understand.

  7. Brogan Perkins- 4892341August 12, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    The main issue for me over both the lectures has presented itself with environmental degradation. As Kimberly mentioned an economic development shift is happening where India is taking over the cheap labour force once offered by China. This will see the move of mass product producing factories to India making it the new largest economy of scale. Where will this leave China? China has forgone so much to create itself into one of the largest 'Tiger Countries'. With the new Urban renewel occuring in China in areas once rural, sustainable measures must be in place as to stop China from reaching the environmental end. As the reading on cecil 'The Greening of the monsters' mentions that the latest solar paneling technology might see China move away from coal powered electricity to inhouse apartment/hotel/business power generation through the clading of walls in the PV's. It states whether this will swing China towards a more sustainable path, and a move away from being the worlds largest greenhouse gas emitter with poisoned rivers and air, encroaching deserts, I believe in the long run yes in terms of learning there are alternatives, and these measures can be put in place with existant buildings. However for the new urban renewel residential buildings where skyscraper statute is not present. I think planners and developers must revisit the traditional pragmatic conception. Where a balance between the natural environment city layout and human activities is reached. Where it seems the cities utilised their natural resources rather than polluting and taking them for granted. Organic cities must prevail for China to reach a somewhat sustainable future that will preserve the little left of its unique environmental characteristics.

  8. I feel there are several important issues that China faces in the 21st century; however, our perception will be notably different to those of a planner in China. We hold very different ideologies and values due to an entirely different history in politics, religion, economics and relationship with our cities. We need to be aware of not trying to solving problems with a Chinese developed system with western ideals.
    If China is indeed becoming increasingly westernised, facing the same challenges (in terms of environmental issues and urban form) that many developed countries did several decades ago they can draw on the experiences and issues faced, and the ways they were addressed but due to the changing state of the environment, cultures and economic systems, china will to a large extent have to pioneer its own path, as the world is fundamentally different today than it was 20 years ago.
    Therefore, I think the main challenge will be developing new political or planning frameworks that are able to develop a values set (such as preserving heritage from different periods or occupation within China and areas or places of high environmental value) or register that is internationally recognised to help guide development, in a way that protects the features and systems that are valued. China as a nation has the ability to develop technology to remedy many environmental problems the main issue is not the protection of heritage or the environment but the political and public pressure and ‘want’ to do so .

  9. Anita Kulasic 4876931

    The biggest issue facing China I believe is the degradation of the natural environment and the over population. This is an issue because it is a leading cause of global warming and (i may be wrong here) but China has not taken up much sustainable practice. They only seem to be concerned with building great architectural buildings to out do the rest of the world however it is not helping with the issue of global warming at all. Also, like many people have mentioned china is taking up more of the western culture into their building architecture, this is an issue because they are not preserving their cultural identity.

  10. Yu Ying Viena Jiang (4593106)August 14, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    The biggest issue facing China I think is to empower the communities to get involved in affecting land use decisions. This is seems too unfair and restrict many developments of the land. It appears to be government made all the decision and there is not any participation for the public. This will directly influence the used of the land as people who live in the city know what they want and needs. The other key issue of China is the environmental issues. China is a developing country; the government is focusing on the economic development but exclude to pay attention about the environment issues. Thus the natural resources and the environment did not manage in a rational system. This is dangerous for the future generation. New Zealand has a very good system to control the environment effects and the Resource Management Act is the main policy in order to achieve the sustainable management. China may consider having a similar Act in order to upgrade the environment.

  11. Nardia Yozin (4677369)
    I feel that the issue of direction and desired outcomes needs to be addressed before China can effectively deal with the other issues within their planning system such as politics, sustainability and the environment. I think the China needs to work out what direction they are heading in and find the correct balance between the past and the future, the western and eastern cultures, and how they want to go ahead with change and development. Another student pointed out Chinese identity in relation to the environment, and this is what I am referring to. I see that there is a conflict between tradition and modernisation. I think there needs to be a clearer prioritisation of what China wants to achieve and what they are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve this (in relation to culture, modernisation etc...).
    In relation to the issues other people have identified, I am by no means saying that China should choose to sacrifice the environment or democracy (as it is perceived that they currently are). But I do feel that it is naive to expect a country to develop without some negative externalities on these aspects to occur, just look at the rest of the developed world. What I am trying to say that developed nations should not be so quick to criticise developing nations in relation to environmental degradation, when they have all ready benefitted (and continue to) on the lack of care for their own. Larissa’s point regarding different ideals fits in here, and maybe this pressure to westernise and be ‘world class’ may not be the best option for many developing nations and therefore they need to go back to the drawing board for what they want to achieve.

  12. The over-emphasis on economic growth is one of the issue face China.It is understandable that as a developing country, the resource has been largely used to enhance economic growth and the less attention has been give to environmental preservation.Over consumption of natural resource as the result of the massive and rapid urbanization would in turn sabotage economic development. Also the lost of cultural identify in many urbanising cities in China is one of the negative consequence of the resource planning with such strong economic focus. Although there has been growing attention given to the importance of 'sustainable development', however the changes needed for improving the planning quality of China will require the support of the state government despite the efforts have been put in by the small community organizations.

  13. Diana Luong - 4904277
    In my opinion, the most significant issue facing China when it comes to planning is the amount of corruption from developers who refuse to follow rules and the decision makers who turn a blind eye to such developments. Developers can buy off decision makers so they can get away with unsustainable construction and in some instances, the construction is unsafe where buildings fall over. Though there are policies and plans which govern the design and construction of infrastructure, these rules are for the most part ignored. Therefore these corrupt practices lead to other issues which face China such as unsustainable practices and pollution. To overcome the issue of corruption and hence overcome the other issues which stem from it, I think that the corruption in China’s decision makers need to be cured.

  14. Minkyung Ko - 4801104November 2, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    I think, the most significant issue facing china is population. Some people mentioned above environmental degradation, decision making and economic growth. In my opinion, these issues are basically from population. In China, increasing population have been influenced natural resources that situate under serious problem and are deteriorating rapidly. For example, fresh water and air and, cultivated landscapes are the three essential resources which China lacks and proves restrictive of its socio-economic development. Moreover, population causes the increasing of migration rural to urban area with the beginning of reforms, along with increasing industrialisation, urbanisation.

  15. In my opinion, one of the most significant issues in China is the overuse of capital and pollution. The essential reason is the pursuing of economic development in a relatively short time. Chinese governments have to reduce the gap between the poor and the rich, and raise the living standard in China. One cannot simply say it is a wrong policy to focus on improving living standard (mostly the aspect of substance). However, it is true Chinese governments regardless the issues unlimited development of economy and utilitise of capital will cause. Actually, they are going to spend more than anyone can image for their damages to the environment and biodiversity. Chinese governments develop their economy in an unsustainable way, which is the worst way in planning.