While more and more Chinese cities are following Dalian's example and building large city squares, urban planning experts warned Thursday that local governments must stop simply copying the Western style and look for more practical construction and local flavor.
Dalian, the famous coastal city in Liaoning province, has earned its reputation through building dozens of large modern city squares since the late 1990s and is regarded as a model of an open and modern Chinese city.
Xinghai Square in its southern coastal area is three times bigger than Beijing's Tian'anmen Square and is the largest city square in Asia.
Inspired by Dalian, other cities have sped up city square projects to improve their images.
"The mass construction of city squares around China helps boost the local economy and enhances living conditions," said Fu Chonglan, director of the Institute of Modern Urban Rural Development Planning with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences at yesterday's launch of the book The Urban History of China.
The book reviews the history of urban development over the past 5,000 years in the fields of city development, urban living and city architecture.
"Local officials often seek the largest, not the best squares, which simply copy Western models without any creativity or consideration of local conditions," he said.
In the 1950s, due to the need of public spaces for mass gatherings, the influence of the former Soviet Union and the wish to quickly surpass developed countries, China built a large number of squares, many bigger than their counterparts in Western countries, he said.
"Then building the large squares became a competition among Chinese cities. Local officials showcased those squares to flaunt their achievements," he said.