Letters to the Leaders of China Review - A Visionary Ensures His Beloved Nation Thrives and Survives

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Letters to the Leaders of China, from Terreform, and authored by Kongjian Yu, brings to the pages a sequel of sorts to his previous novel in which he presented a powerful position on the necessity of Urban Planning.

This follow up heralded by the West as relevant, a pioneering visionary, "reflects years of tireless advocacy for landscape policy that promotes ecological health, social benefit, and authenticity the seems even more apt than ever."

"Kongjian Yu has distinguished himself as the preeminent landscapes architect of his generation in China, His work on Sponge Cities and the transformation of post-industrial sites has led to an innovative approach to the development of future cities around the globe," Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Design.


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Letter to the leaders of China begins with an introduction by Urban Research Editor in Chief, Michael Sorkin, provides the insight and background of urbanization by reviewing the suburban migration of post-World War II.

Sorkin argues a role reversal caused by need and the advent of women taking on the role as breadwinner and working in non-traditional roles in factories the "Rosie the Riveter" female workforce, transformed the American family and urbanization. He concludes the post-World War II return landed men in the role of commuter, heading off to the cities separated from the family unit for a large portion of each day. "The damage," he said, "done by suburbs far exceeded the psychical."

How does this reflect modern day China?

In the early days of post-world War II urbanization there were distinct lines between cities and suburbs. Fast-forwarding past the turbulent 1960's and ahead another three decades and we see Los Angeles and the prime example of gentrification and the combination of city proper and suburb.


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For China, the sprawling vast nation, of which many have little knowledge, the fifteen mega-cities were and in some cases are faced with deep concerns that effect the daily existence of the population.

KongJian Yu writes as he addresses the Future of the Chinese City on "The Road to Urban Landscapes A Dialogue with the Mayors" and follows with eight letters to China's leaders each addressing a separate topic including establishing a National Ecological Security Platform, on Building a Grand Canal National heritage and Ecological corridor.

He also addresses Beijing and writes on "Establishing Beijing as a Global Green City, Suggestions to Establish a Green Sponge Initiative to Address Beijing's Storm water Challenges, Suggestions on Curbing Brutalist Hydraulic Engineering Projects and building Hydro-ecological infrastructure."


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Within each of these letters he explains briefly the point of the letter and then numerates his argument adds what he believes is the right path and suggestions. These letters, tackling major environmental issue are on point with very little deviation. He explains, briefly, thoroughly intellectually and completes the idea in under 1000 words.

As Letters to China's Leaders essentially tackle the ecological issues facing the city, that at 6,490 mi and a population of 24,000,000 is only 1700 miles larger than Los Angeles County with 18.7million documented and an estimated growth totaling 21,000,000.

Beijing, Yu, writes to Liu Qi, Communist Party Secretary of Beijing and Guo Jinlong, Mayor of Beijing,is facing major ecological problems including 1) water shortages, floods and droughts, and a receding water table, 2) Bad traffic and a desperate need for low-carbon, green transportation network, 3) loss and fragmentation of natural habitats, 4) loss of the authenticity and integrity of cultural heritage, 5) low accessibility of the landscape for recreational uses, 6) shortages of land resources and vulnerability or agricultural.

He uses the second section, titled Criticism and Context, to present a more in-depth argument on the current urban design dilemmas faced in many of China's cities.

Critical theorists, geographers, scholars such as Thomas J. Campanella, Daniel Sui, Julie Sze, Zhongjie Lin, Xuefei Ren, and Peter G. Rowe are among those who provide opinion in this section.


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In the final section Kongjian Yu is interviewed by AI WeiWei. It is a familiar, friendly and lengthy interview that sounds as it were between two friends who are not concerned about challenging the opinions or statements.

Since the book's publication it has been widely circulated among the nation's leadership. To know the complexities the leaders of China face as they meet the blinding fast speed of critical development and urbanization simultaneously plus addressing ecological issues which as Yu points out can be either life or death to the surrounding city.

Easier to read than the title suggests, more informative than one would have expected and surprisingly understandable, Letters to the Leaders of China, Kongjian Yu and the future of the Chinese city is available online at Amazon, and other online publishers.

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