Although we are beginning to receive word that return (from cities north of Wuhan on the Beijing-Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong) have been cancelled, nevertheless yesterday, the CPC Central Committee of Shenzhen announced that the city was not being locked down. Instead, these posts emphasized the measures that the city was taken to maintain the public’s health. Measures include mandating wearing breathing masks in public spaces and having your temperature taken when entering buildings and crossing borders in and out of the city. Nevertheless, the buses and subway are still running, supermarkets are still open, and as I write I can hear garbage being collected and processed. Continue reading
The threat of Wuhan coronavirus, notwithstanding, chez Shenzhen it’s been a strangely low-key beginning to the year of the rat or mouse or any other kind of rodentia that floats your boat. Squirrels and hamsters, moles and chinchillas with their long, long whiskers–any and all can appear on a happy new years card, although most are ordinary brown or white mice, and some are wearing breathing masks. Most public spaces have emptied out, events have been cancelled, and we’re at home eating dried persimmons, roasted chestnuts, and dumplings. Someone mentions that the night before they (and who are they?) locked down Wuhan, four million people departed the city. Some must have had advanced knowledge of the shutdown, but others must have been traveling for the New Year. After all, Wuhan is one of the four most important railway transit hubs in China; anyone on the Beijing-Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high speed train went through Wuhan on their way north. We’ll see how (and when) they make their way back.
This past week I have been in Wuhan, the political, economic, cultural, transportation a land educational center of China. Like it’s US American sister cities Pittsburgh and St Louis, once upon an early industrial time, Wuhan thrived and sparkled and offered developmental opportunities that paradoxically challenged and reinforced coastal hegemonies, in New York and Shanghai, respectively.
Wuhan also faces the challenge of restructuring its heavy industrial economy, even as young people migrate to coastal cities for more contemporary opportunities. In Shenzhen I know many Wuhan people involved in the City’s creative industries. In point of fact, Wuhan has more college students than any other city on the planet, which is to say the city grooms talent that leaves for elsewhere, carrying dreams and solid heartland values in suitcases that fuel coastal growth.
I moseyed around two of Wuhan’s historic areas, one famous the other not so. Hankou boasts colonial architecture and a formerly robust mercantile history. Tanhualin in Wuchang was long ago the site of a Buddhist temple and later the location of Christian missions, including churches, schools and a hospital. Impressions of ongoing historic convergence, below.