Zhejiang explores ways to improve urban and rural images

Recently, Zhejiang held a conference in Tonglu County to discuss issues of urban and rural image improvement and future community construction, which kicked off Zhejiang’s projects to accelerate the construction of “beautiful Zhejiang”.

In recent years, through the construction of beautiful counties, beautiful towns and beautiful villages, the province has achieved considerable results in the construction of beautiful Zhejiang. Then why is it necessary to promote the improvement of urban and rural images? What are the shortcomings in Zhejiang’s urban and rural images, and how to improve them? How to link this with the construction of future communities?

Construction of beautiful Zhejiang

When you drive out of the Tonglu toll station at the Changshen Expressway, you will be on the South Yingchun Road, the entrance to Tonglu County. The broad avenue leads directly to the county town, and on a nearby marble are engraved the four Chinese characters meaning “Chic Tonglu” by Fan Zhongyan, a famous writer in the Song Dynasty. The “most beautiful” entrance of this “China’s most beautiful county” fully demonstrates the temperament and character of Tonglu.

“They are not interested in creating showy sculptures at the entrance to the county, which is but extravagant and wasteful. Instead, they organically integrate with nature to highlight the characteristics of the county,” said an official from the Special Urban and Rural Image Improvement Office (URIIO). It is hoped that more such “beautiful entrances” will emerge in the province in the following actions to improve the urban and rural images.

Earlier this year, the Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial Government had made arrangements to accelerate the actions of urban and rural image improvement and promote the construction of future communities. At present, the province has established a special team of member units including 22 provincial-level departments, and an implementation plan will soon be issued in the near future. The present conference is also the first on-site meeting held by the Provincial Government for this purpose. Why does Zhejiang attach so much importance to this new mission?

The answer is obvious: Zhejiang’s urban and rural image improvement and community construction have come to a decisive stage, and it is time to make a leap. At this time, through an overall improvement in natural space, historical culture and modern architecture, it is more necessary to form an overall beauty integrating the beauty of nature, the beauty of humanities and the beauty of harmony, so as to improve the quality of Zhejiang in the future with unique temperament.

Remediation and iterative upgrade

How will the province paint this beautiful picture of image upgrade?

“More emphasis will be placed on iterative upgrades, systematic governance and overall improvement. Guided by the green development orientation in urban and rural construction, we aim for the integrated promotion of image upgrade with function improvement, ecological improvement and governance improvement,” said an official with the Provincial Construction Department. For the upgrade of the urban appearance, we will focus on the central urban areas of cities and counties, highlighting the construction of important nodes and regions; for the improvement of county images, we will focus on the linked development of beautiful counties, beautiful towns and beautiful villages.

“In these years, we have carried out the rural revitalization project, the improvement of the small town environment and the construction of beautiful towns and beautiful villages, which has laid a good foundation for Zhejiang. However, those beautiful cells are scattered here and there, with loose connections to each other,” said an official with URIIO. These shortcomings must be made up.

“We have also sorted out the ten prominent typical problems in our province,” he said, “such as inconsistent streets, banal city entrance, dull squares, stereotyped shop signs, inaccessible rivers and lakes, blocking buildings, etc. This is about a “negative list” in the process of upgrading the urban and rural images. However, said the official, there is no “one size fits all” approach to the rectification, and measures must be tailored to local conditions.

Connections with future communities

Why should the future community construction be linked with the improvement of urban and rural images?

“The urban and rural images are actually the enlarged future communities,” said the official with the URIIO. First, the future community is the basic unit and important element of the model area of urban and rural images. Second, it is necessary to implement the concept of the future community in the whole area of image improvement. Therefore, we must link the two projects together.

Next, our future communities will be fully expanded to make them a general form of modernization. Every city, every county and district must have be covered. The bottom line is to create at least 1 urban future community and 1 rural new community in each county or county-level city.

However, just like the improvement of the urban and rural images, the future community construction needs to give full play to local creativity, and the roots are still human needs, said the official with URIIO. “We will focus on stock communities with good foundations, explore the implantation of characteristic scenarios, and aim for the satisfaction of core requirements.”