Beijing (1950s-1960s) / How Beijing’s planning was pushed to this state–another heavy Soviet influence
In December 1949’s Beijing City Planning Conference a group of Soviet architects and urban planner brought their idea to develop the new China’s capital. This proposal was called “The Plan of Beijing’s Future Development” and suggested that “Beijing should be built not only the centre of culture, art and politics, but also the centre of industry. There is little industry existing in Beijing now and the percentage of workers is only 4% of the total Beijing population. In Moscow, the worker class has occupied more than 25% of the total population. Therefore, Beijing is not a city of worker class by far. Most urban population is not workers, but businessmen and exploiters. The city of Beijing should be re-organized.” (The Editing Committee of the History of Beijing Construction, 1995). The Soviet architects also mentioned central squares were of utmost importance in Beijing’s future planning because once the squares were set, all the main streets would fall into places. They proposed to have the
square in front of TianAnmen and criticised on building another centre outside the old Beijing as the architects just wanted Beijing to plan exactly like what they did to Moscow–with new political buildings replacing the old city.
The Soviet architects denied the value of the old buildings and that important part of history marked in the city. They thought of Beijing as a second Moscow and didn’t give much thought to consider Beijing was indeed something completely different from their Soviet capital. Stalin even mentioned that “preserving an old city was bourgeois’ unpractical fantasy“.
Eventually the Soviet proposals were approved, partly because Mao wanted to stay in Beijing as he couldn’t bear previous Chinese emperors could live in this treasurable anicent city while he couldn’t. Liang Sicheng and Chen Zhanxiang’s effort to promote building a new Beijing next to old Beijing in suburb area was then in vain.