The dream of having a modernized Beijing, including updated water, power, and sewage infrastructure, refurbished apartment buildings, repaved roadways, and an expanded subway line is coming true. The changes I’ve seen over the last seven years have been drastic. I thought perhaps the projects might stall a bit after the milestone of the 2008 Olympic Games was met, but they haven’t.
And, a very big part of making this all happen are the millions of migrant works who have come to Beijing from other provinces to provide the necessary labor.
For longer jobs, such as the construction of buildings, they live in onsite in temporary buildings. For short and more mobile jobs, such as putting down new steam pipe, they travel along in tents.
The slanted buildings areas conveyors that bring coal upto furnaces in this structure at Tsinghua University. The coal is burned during wintertime to turn water into steam, which is then piped throughout the campus into radiators to provide heat. Such systems are used throughout Beijing. (In fact, there was a massive effort over the past year to replace major steam pipe arteries.)
In 2001, soon after learning that they’d been awarded the 2008 Summer Olympics, the government undertook a policy of shutting down factories inside of the Fifth Ring Road (or maybe it was the uncompleted Sixth), and relocating them to other provinces.
I think that the only remaining huge smokestacks remaining (and there aren’t a lot of them) inside of the city limits are associated with such heating facilities.
This picture was taken in 2006 from the old Sun Microsystems offices, which were directly across from the facility. During the time that we were there, the building was renovated, and the height of the smoke stack was increased.