A changing City
Reading and speaking. Read the extracts below from
a travel guide to a famous city.
Can you guess which city it is?
- smartly dressed people clutching mobile phones
- road signs and advertising billboards are now in English
- a majestic political and architectural marvel
- a forest of constructions cranes and bulldozers
- shopping malls and five-star hotels rise from the rubble
- The city is changing so rapidly it makes you dizzy.
- most youngsters disdain socialist sacrifice and are
more interested in money, motorbikes, fashion,
video games and rock music
- bicycles and ox carts were the main form of
transport a decade ago but both are now prohibited
on the new freeways and toll roads.
- It may be something of a showcase, but what
capital city isn't?
Look at No. 2 to check the identity of the city. Were you
surprised? What impressions did you previously have of this city?
Read the text taken from the Lonely planet guide to Beijing
Which of the following statements do/do not reflect the author's
- Beijing has he same attraction today that it has always had for the
people in China.
- These days, people in Beijing have the same aspirations as people
- It's hard to keep up with the pace of change in modern Beijing.
- Beijing has been completely ruined by modernisation.
- Life in Beijing is more comfortable materially than it was in the 1980s.
- Beijing is an amazing place that all visitors will love.
Underline words and phrases in the text which show that the
following sentences are true.
- Lots of people come to Beijing from the countryside to pursue their dreams.
- The capital is extremely attractive to these people.
- The differences between old and young people's attitudes are very
obvious in Beijing.
- Old people are very enthusiastic about the Communist past.
- Many young people have no respect for Communist ideals.
- The builders are in a great hurry.
- Many new building are luxurious.
- Traditional homes have been replaced by big blocks of apartments.
- In the 1980s no-one expected to have such things as a TV set or a
- A lot people now have these things.
- people usually wear western clothes now.
- Near Beijing there are some extremely impressive things to see.
What are the main changes that have taken place in Beijing since
the 1980s? Comment on the following:
- material goods
Discuss these questions in pairs.
- Do you think the changes described are mainly positive or mainly negative?
- Do they make you more or less interested in visiting Beijing?
- Are any of these changes happening in your city/country?
- Are there any other ways that globalisation has affected your
- What influence lie behind these changes?
- Have they had a good or bad effect on your city/country?
A changing City
For centuries, Beijing has been the promised
land of China. Originally a walled bastion for
emperors and officials, it remains a majestic
political and architectural marvel. Today, people
from the countryside still flock to the city in
search of the elusive pot of gold at the end of the
rainbow. The government encourages them to go
home, but the lure of the capital proves too
enticing. Meanwhile, down the road by the
Friendship Store, smartly dressed customers
clutching mobile phones head for the nearest
banquet or disco.
Perhaps nowhere else in China more than in
Beijing is the generation gap more visible.
Appalled by the current drive to 'modernise'
many older people still wax euphoric about
Chairman Mao and the years of sacrifice for the
socialist revolution. But most youngsters disdain
socialist sacrifice and are more interested - like
youngsters everywhere - in money, motorbikes,
fashion, video games and rock music (though not
necessarily in that order).
Foreigners seem to enjoy Beijing since the
city offers so much to see and do. Things have
changed drastically in the last ten years or so.
The Beijing of today is a forest of construction
cranes, bulldozers and 24-hour work crews
scrambling to build the new China. plush
shopping malls and five-star hotels rise from the
rubble. A good number of the road signs and
advertising billboards are now in English.
Whatever one says about Beijing today, it
probably won't be true tomorrow. The city is
changing so rapidly it makes you dizzy.
Travellers of the 1980s remember Beijing as a
city of narrow lanes with single-story homes
built around courtyards. These have given way
to the high-rise housing estates of the 1990s. TV
sets and washing machines - unimaginable
luxuries in the 1980s - are now commonplace.
Whereas bicycles and ox carts were the main
form of transport a decade ago, both are
prohibited on the new freeways and toll roads
that now encompass the city. Whereas not so long
ago every one wore the Chairman Mao suit, now
jeans and T-shirts, leather jackets and suits are
Whatever impression you come away with,
Beijing is one of the most fascinating places in
China. It may be something of a showcase, but
what capital city isn't? Within its environs you
will find some of China's most stunning sights -
The Forbidden City, the Summer palace and the
Great Wall, to name just a few. The city itself
offers so much of interest that the main
complaint of most visitors is that they simply
run out of time before seeing it all.