The people of Kunming, China, are facing the question of how exactly to understand and deal with the concept of “progress” in a very unsubtle way.
Perhaps in our modern times, the word itself, “progress,” needs to be completely rethought. With consequences that seem to be so incredibly ambiguous, perhaps the process indicative in the word should take on a more objective and less subjective meaning. While describing that process and the changes it inevitably brings, it should not envoke an automatic sense of understanding or movement in one direction or another.
One very noticeable policy, for example, is aimed at reshaping Kunming as what the government calls a “modern city of high culture,” or wen ming shi. This policy involves leveling entire blocks of old buildings, forcing whatever residents or businesses that might be located there to find a new address. These areas are being cleared for new developments, often parks or modern shopping complexes. Another manifestation of this policy is to clear the streets of the many people pushing carts and carrying baskets, selling all manner of food, produce, and nearly everything else. The sight of a police truck confiscating these businesses on wheels has been disturbing common as of late, such as the peaches being pried away from the woman in the picture above.