< Last Photo   << Last Chapter                Notes on the Geography of Places: China: New Suzhou         Next Chapter >>   Next Photo > 
 

Notes on the Geography of China: New Suzhou

The gardens of Suzhou are to the city what Mission Dolores is to San Francisco or the Statue of Liberty to New York: culturally important and economically insignificant.  Here, we look at the city in which Suzhou's residents actually live.  It's changing incredibly fast: GDP per capita rose from 634 yuan in 1978 to 1,280 in 1984, 3,616 in 1990, 17,474 in 1996, 21,733 in 1998, and 35,733 in 2002.   Here's another set of vertiginous numbers: foreign direct investment in Suzhou in 2001 totalled $3 billion, including $1.4 billion from Hong Kong, $1 billion from Taiwan, $600 million from Japan, and $53 million from Canada.  Not bad for a city famous for classical gardens!

(Statistics from Chen in Globalization and the Chinese City, ed. by Fulong Wu, 2006.)

Make default image size larger

China: New Suzhou picture 1

Xinsi Road.  It's not clear who the sign is intended for.  Visitors?  Residents?  The website is that of the Suzhou Garden Administration Bureau.

China: New Suzhou picture 2

Within the city walls, there's a Manhattan-like grid of streets, traffic, and residential and commercial activity.

China: New Suzhou picture 3

Everything is laid out in rectangles, here filled with apartment buildings.

China: New Suzhou picture 4

A nearby grocery on Xinsi Road.  The English fetish is interesting; nobody inside spoke a word of it.

China: New Suzhou picture 5

A fruit market, noteworthy not only for its color but its quality.

China: New Suzhou picture 6

No more lumpy, warty, spotty produce.  This stuff is export quality, which should make American farmers very uneasy. 

China: New Suzhou picture 7

Nearby, mushrooms.

China: New Suzhou picture 8

Downtown shopping district: cell phones galore.  Everyone has one, or so it seems.

China: New Suzhou picture 9

Money to spend on bikes, too.

China: New Suzhou picture 10

In the basement of the same building, China's New Sorrow.  What was it Chou En-Lai said about the Chinese riding bicycles for centuries to come?

China: New Suzhou picture 11

Close to Pan Men, a slum hugs a fragment of the old city wall.  It isn't particularly old--the wall was rebuilt in 876, 922, 1662 and other times as well--but its location has been stable for a thousand years.

China: New Suzhou picture 12

The slum itself is odd: partly abandoned yet partly in use with air-conditioning. 

China: New Suzhou picture 13

The same neighborhood, apparently in a state of turnover.

China: New Suzhou picture 14

Wall-side playground.

China: New Suzhou picture 15

The International Convention and Exhibition Center is on the west side of town.  To the south of it is Suzhou's Hi-Tech Center, established in 1990.

China: New Suzhou picture 16

On the east side--a more sensible location, closer to Shanghai--is the Suzhou Industrial Park, a Singapore-funded district established in 1994 and now home to a score of multinational manufacturing companies.

China: New Suzhou picture 17

New housing.

China: New Suzhou picture 18

More on the way.

China: New Suzhou picture 19

Something a little less intense.

China: New Suzhou picture 20

Waiting for a ride into town.

China: New Suzhou picture 21

An American-style motel on the way.

China: New Suzhou picture 22

What was that quotation at the top... "having changed little"?  Well, here we are at the highway junction outside Suzhou. 

China: New Suzhou picture 23

Down the road a bit, a toll plaza.  You have to pity the tourist who goes to China in search of storybook exoticism.


www.greatmirror.com Web   
 

* Australia * Austria * Bangladesh * Belgium * Botswana * Brazil * Burma / Myanmar * Cambodia (Angkor) * Canada (B.C.) * China * The Czech Republic * Egypt * Fiji * France * Germany * Ghana * Greece * Hungary * India: Themes * Northern India * Peninsular India * Indonesia * Israel * Italy * Japan * Jerusalem * Jordan * Kenya * Laos * Kosovo * Malawi * Malaysia * Mauritius * Mexico * Morocco * Mozambique * Namibia * The Netherlands * New Zealand * Nigeria * Norway * Oman * Pakistan * The Philippines * Poland * Portugal * Senegal * Singapore * South Africa * Spain * Sri Lanka * Sudan * Syria (Aleppo) * Tanzania * Thailand * Trinidad * Turkey (Istanbul) * Uganda * The U.A.E. (Dubai) * The United Kingdom * The Eastern United States * The Western United States * Oklahoma * Uzbekistan * Vietnam * The West Bank * Yemen * Zambia * Zimbabwe *
go back to previous picture go to next chapter go to next picture go to previous chapter page