SIX towns in the Yangtze River Delta in east China, a modernised region considered the economic powerhouse of China, stand out for their traditional appearance, anchored in centuries-old building styles.
The small towns boast houses with white walls and black tile roofs sprawling down long narrow lanes, and stone arch bridges spanning rivers.
The lucky residents enjoy outdoor living in summer, eating and chatting in their leafy surroundings.
Nowadays, such scenes are rare in the Yangtze Delta, and the modernisation tide that began in the 1980s has filled most towns with skyscrapers, wide roads, steel bridges and huge factories.
“In fact, we wanted very much to build big factories here because that means more money,” said Xue Mingren, senior official with Luzhi town, one of the best-preserved six.
“But none of us dare to destroy the old pattern and calm life here because it is so beautiful and lovely,” he said.
Due to careful protection, lots of traditional houses, historic sites and fascinating gardens remain almost intact in the one square km area of the town.
A total investment of 3bil yuan (RM1.4bil) was spent on sanitary system upgrade, infrastructure improvement and pollution treatment in the six towns.
The efforts paid off. As many as 7.9 million travellers visited the towns last year, contributing 1.5bil yuan (RM695mil) to the local tourism revenue.
In 2001, the six towns were included in the nation's application to be included in the world cultural heritage list. – People’s Daily
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