Zhongshan Road captures, protects timeless charm
The hustle and bustle of Zhongshan Road in Xiamen, East China's Fujian province, makes it one of the busiest roads in China. In 2016, the area generated 2.3 billion yuan ($334.2 million) in revenue, tripling its annual income of just five years ago.
With the flourishing Zhongshan Road, the Zhonghua community in Xiamen, a coastal city in East China's Fujian province, is eyeing more opportunities for prosperity and economic development.
Zhonghua community, located in the southwest part of the island city with a population of 56,000, has long been the commercial, cultural, tourist and financial heart of Xiamen.
In 2016, the area generated 2.3 billion yuan ($334.2 million) in revenue, tripling its annual income of five years ago.
It has also attracted more than 10 big-name enterprises to set up their headquarters in the city, including businesses in software information, finance and high-end services, fueling the area's economy through a massive growth spurt.
Zhongshan Road, the most successful commercial area, has also witnessed 15 percent to 20 percent growth in revenue year-on-year, featuring chain department store brands from home and abroad, such as Laiya and Paris' Printemps.
Yin Yanglan, head of the Party and adminstration office of the Zhonghua community, said: "Zhongshan Road is more than just a commercial high street. It has abundant cultural and historical perspectives to it, which you can see from the architecture style and the local folk culture," he said.
All along Zhongshan Road, one can easily find everything necessary for a satisfying shopping trip, ranging from iconic traditional restaurant Huangzehe to bourgeois cake and tea shops that meet the interests of the younger community.
"Zhongshan Road welcomes a high volume of tourists every day due to its central location, close to Gulang Island, to which every Xiamen visitor will go," he said. "And the visitors are also interested in Qilou, a traditional architectural style that is well preserved here."
While one may worry the high demand from tourism could cause damage to the centuries-old block, Yin said the local government has always emphasized protection and maintenance of such buildings.
"Those buildings do need refurbishment and maintenance," Yin said. "We are on the mission now and expect it to improve a lot by this summer."
"Qi lou is a priceless resource," said Lin Zhenfu, the deputy head in the city's planning bureau. "Only when people realize how important Qilou is for Xiamen will Qilou receive better protection."
Improving the local infrastructure and enhancing energy supply will both be put on the government's work agenda in a bid to preserve the area's inherent charm.
While the local government is protecting and improving the entertaining atmosphere to attract more traffic, it has not left its citizens behind.
On its government agenda, the city is preparing to build a dining center to provide free meals for the elderly in the city.
Also, as a city with a large number of migrant workers, the city is setting up a family service center to create a friendlier environment in the community.
To better serve its citizens, the local government will also push for reform in administrative systems by building a one-stop government service center.
What they say
A leading gourmet commentator, a TV producer and a host share their insights in Xiamen flavor, of which Zhongshan Road has the best in the city, Ren Xiaojin reports.
"I can still remember the cold day 16 years ago when I stood in the Xiamen street, feeding myself with a fresh-cooked oyster pancake. Today I came back and the taste of the food has not changed! I love those traditional small streets in Xiamen. Although the look of them may alter, the fact it has been preserved until now is pretty good. Also Xiamen is a very tolerant city, but only not in its food. It sticks to its own flavor."
Shen Hongfei, general consultant of the food documentary Taste of China and renowned Chinese gourmet commentator
"The narrow alleyways in Xiamen always surprise me, and they open the gate to another world for me. The trip to the Xiamen alleyways made me realize for the first time that there is such rich culture in such small alleys. Every old street deserves to be visited. The integration of traditional alleyways with commercial centers will not look weird at all in Xiamen, but will be in perfect harmony."
Xu Pei, deputy producer at Chongqing technology and education TV channel
"If I were in Xiamen right now, I would have Shacha noodles everyday (a typical Xiamen noodle soup). The Shacha noodle stands for the authentic Xiamen flavor. The soup is made by Shacha sauce, seafood, meat, different veggies and noodles, which can only be found in Xiamen. And every bow of Xiamen sate noodle has its own characteristics."
Ke Junnian, a Xiaman resident and a Taiwan food reality show host
By Ren Xiaojin ( China Daily )