Poor Chinese county builds roadside wall for glossing over shabby farmhouses along national highway, criticized as image project


Chinese Society  Updated:Sat, Dec 8, 2012 01:40 AM   By Bernd Chang


Image project,Gloss over shabbiness

Poor Chinese county Zhangxian of Gansu in Northwest China builds more than a dozen kilometers long of roadside wall to gloss over the shabby farmhouses along the road. Most villagers whose houses are shielded from sight of passing-by vehicles call it an image project and useless for them. In addition, they raise safety concern since the road becomes narrower. 

Poor Chinese county Zhangxian of Gansu province builds roadside wall for glossing over shabbiness of the farmhouses along national highway. villagers, calling it an image project, are puzzled with safety concern since road gets narrower.

  • Image project
  • Image project
  • Image project
  • Image project
  • Image project
  • Image project


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A wall along expressway or railway is usually to insulate the nearby residential buildings from noise. But in China, it has other functions.

Recently, a reporter from People's Daily, mouthpiece of communist party of China, found long sections of wall along the No. 212 National Highway in Zhangxian county of Gansu province in Northwest China. The wall, about 2 meters high, decorated with glazed roof tile, keep the farm houses in villages along the road from sight of those in a vehicle.

The function of the wall is surely not soundproof, since Chinese villagers like to build houses along the road for convenience. And the road is what they have to use everyday. A wall-closed road will only add difficulties to their routine life. As feedback from the villagers, most of them dislike the wall.

Villagers: Wall for glossing over shabbiness of the villages along the road

According to the People's Daily reporter, most of the villagers think the purpose of the wall is simply to gloss over the shabbiness of the farm houses of villagers along the road.

Zhangxian county of Gansu province is part of the ancient silk road, but since the foundation of PRC, Gansu as an interior province, lags behind the booming coastal area of China. Zhangxian county falls to a national poor county.

"It is simply an image project. The wall is just to keep the landscape out of sight of those in vehicles. the houses of our peasants are so shabby!" said on peasant in Dongqiao Village.

"Many high level leaders pass through this road, but our houses are so ugly. With a wall keeping the houses out of sight, the leaders will feel better", said another villager.

According to the report of People's Daily, local villagers are not required to pay for building the wall. They also do not know the exact cost of the wall.

The image project benefits only a small number of villagers having a free courtyard wall

When asked if the wall is helpful for villagers, most of the villagers along the 212 National Highway shake their head.

"No use at all, since the quality of our houses are not changed", said one villager.

Anyway, there are indeed some villagers benefit from the wall. "Some villagers are happy with the wall, because the wall is just become the courtyard wall of their houses, and the wall can prevent some livestocks from invasion. But only those on roadside can benefit. "

Safety is concerned since the road become more narrow with the wall

And some villagers are concerned about the traffic safety. The wall make the originally narrow road become more narrow. As a national trunk road, the traffic on the 212 National Highway is bery busy and many large trucks runs on it. Dodging a running vehicle becomes harder.

"Man has to flatten the body against the wall to avoid being hit by a running vehicle. It is difficult for an adult to dodge a vehicle, not to mention the children that have to walk along the road to school", said a villager.

Just in Dongqiao village, as many as 100 children have to walk along the national highway to school. Their safety puzzles their parents.

County officials: building the wall to beautify the landscape

County officials acknowlege the wall is just to gloss over shabbiness of the villages along the national highway.

"This is the 212 National Highway Renovation and Beautification Project. And not only Zhangxian county does so, the neighbouring counties are all building wall along the road. The wall go along from neighboring counties and has a length of more than a dozen kilometers." said an official of Zhangxian county.
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