Beijing spruces up for Apec summit, but are they just 'face projects'?

More than two-thirds of Second Ring Road is being resurfaced, and bridges are getting new paint, as internet users debate the upgrades

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 1:45pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 August, 2014, 6:03pm

Beijing is massively revamping roads and bridges for the Apec meeting in November, but the government’s efforts are prompting internet debate: one side calls the upgrades necessary, and the other calls them just “face projects”.

World leaders are coming for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in November to discuss economic and political issues. Apec has 21 “member economies” including the United States, Japan, the Philippines, Russia and Vietnam. Confirmation of attendance is not yet complete.

The Beijing municipal government has launched numerous large-scale renovation projects on traffic infrastructure “to welcome the Apec” meetings, according to The Beijing News.

These projects included repaving about 70 per cent, or more than 22km, of Second Ring Road and repainting 25 bridges, an unnamed official with the municipal traffic authority told the newspaper.

Second Ring Road is the innermost highway enveloping historical parts of the city such as the Forbidden City. Its total length is a little more than 32km.

A new asphalt surface with noise-reduction technology aims to reduce tyre friction, which contributes to polluting emissions, and increase comfort for riders, the official said.

Road resurfacing is being done during late-night hours avoid daytime traffic jams. Waterproof paint is being applied on the bridges, and rusted iron fences are being replaced with new ones plated with zinc.

Authorities said the projects would be finished by the end of September. They did not reveal the total cost.

Some internet users posted in the discussion section of Sina.com that the upgrades couldn’t come soon enough.

“Whatever the reason, Second Ring Road needs to be repaired,” one Beijing user wrote. “More than five million cars operate in Beijing every day. The roads have been in bad shape for a long time. Some are like country roads. Now it feels much more comfortable.”

But another Beijing user expressed doubts, saying: “For these meetings, is all this necessary?

“When will our public servants spend public funds truly to benefit the people? Taxpayers’ money should be spent to give residents a respectable living, not on face projects for the sake of global image.”

The postings of internet users from outside Beijing were mostly negative, many criticising the capital’s use of national funds for political purposes.