Since Beijing Municipality took action in November to beautify the capital city by removing illegal constructions and advertising hoardings, many giant advertising boards in commercial districts such as Zhongguancun, famous for its countless IT companies, have been torn down from the tops of office buildings. The ongoing action has triggered a hot debate on the way to make Beijing more beautiful.
Supporters say that the action is urgently needed as Beijing's cityscape has been damaged by rampant advertising boards erected on buildings or hung on wall space. But some question whether the approach is appropriate. Even signs of shops, restaurants and banks were dismantled. The removal of many shop and building signs may confuse people, because they act as guide signs in the huge metropolis full of skyscrapers.
Beijing is a world famous capital city with many historical pieces of architecture and cultural relics. No one would oppose the municipal government's efforts to conserve historical heritage such as the Forbidden City (now the Palace Museum), gate towers, temples and former imperial gardens. And no one would doubt the importance of eliminating illegal constructions and advertising signs to restore a clean and pleasant public environment.
But it is worth noting that people are the core of a city. When launching such a citywide activity, the government should pay attention to public opinion and avoid acting rashly. Compared with the city's skyline view and landscape, the people's satisfaction is the most important thing. Any governmental activity related to public interests should be carried out prudently and properly within the framework of laws.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in People's Daily on December 7)