Kunming’s Streets


Travelers walk past a large bull sculpture outside the Kunming Railway Station in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.

Travelers walk past a large bull sculpture outside the Kunming Railway Station in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.

The city of Kunming, capital of China’s most culturally and ecologically diverse province, occupies a conflicted space in the rapidly urbanizing country. Pulled by the need to modernize and compete in the global marketplace and the need to maintain and protect its cultural legacy, the city finds itself at war with itself. Development is necessary to remain an economic powerhouse in the region, assuring continued prosperity for the future. But, as is seen elsewhere in China and the developed world, industrial and technological modernization is almost necessarily at odds with an agenda of protection for the environment. And while environmental concerns might fall to the push of modernization elsewhere, Yunnan’s two largest economic drivers, tourism and agriculture, depend on a pristine environment. The government has erected China’s first environmental police force in the region, in fact. Meanwhile, though, the city chugs along with construction and demolition, shopping and transportation. The city has come resemble most others in China in that respect, but there’s an underlying awareness that the city’s toll on the environment–those beautiful cloud-filled blue-sky days, the surrounding tree-covered hills and mountains, the water that runs through the city–must be addressed.

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All content © 2005-2019 M. Scott Brauer
error: All images and text © M. Scott Brauer 2005-present