Industrial Transformation of Datong: After City Wall Restoration

In the past, Datong used to be home to royal palaces, temples, and gardens. Starting with the Northen Wei dynasty, which is 1,600 years ago, Datong was a beautiful capital. It continued to thrive in the Liao and Jin dynasties, and later regained prominence as a major strategic center in the Ming dynasty. Most of the heritages remained or restored were from the Ming dynasty. Falling into decline thereafter, continual warfare and neglect had engendered a state of chaos by the early 1900s. As the coal mining industry flourished, the city had been gone through mass and indiscriminate rebuilding. Therefore, heritage became heavily damaged. And, since a few years ago, the government started to put an attempt on preserving the heritage of the city. 

In fact, to Datong, this restoration project had more meaning than the preservation of relics, which is industrial change. Just as they did in the 1900s, the city was rapidly industrialized by coal mining, since 2008 with the government’s decision to rebuild the huge wall, the city has been transformed into a spectacle. Some of them criticized that “Just because you envisage building a tourist city, it doesn’t mean the tourists will come.”. However, in the end, for the city, restoration of the city wall rebranded the city’s image and transited an industrial city to the tourist-based economy successfully. The government is also successful in terms of tourist-based economic to make a profit from it.



Yuan Ren, 2014. Back to the future: the fake relics of the ‘old’ Chinese city of Datong.

Zhou Hao, Filmed in 2015. “The Chinese Mayor”.


1 Comment on “Industrial Transformation of Datong: After City Wall Restoration

  1. The quote of the critique is very thought-provoking as it is not rare in China when the government try so hard to boost tourism but just fail at the end. But since in Datong, they succeeded, I wonder what the key point leading to the success was.

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