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Why heaven is a hutong


"Foreigners like to make friends more than Chinese," said Zhang Yanxia outside her hutong home.

As the city expands, locals invite foreigners into their traditional neighborhoods

People call him Bian Ge, or elder brother Bian, although he admits to sometimes being called Jiu Gang or alcohol jar, due to his penchant for baijiu. He is a 50-year-old man, proud of his Manchurian ancestry, and makes it his business to know and help those living in Huguosi Hutong - the place he has called home for six years.

As Beijing has developed and expanded, it has done so primarily upward. The modern districts boast something new and almost uncharacteristic of the city's flat, concentric sprawl - a skyline.

Yet while many local residents are eager to settle into a modern apartment building, staunch hutong, meaning alleyway, residents have no desire to live anywhere else.

"People who live in a hutong have good relationships with each other," said Bian Ge, "but once they move to the high-rises, the relationship between them no longer exists."

With many Chinese looking to move on up, foreigners are making the decision to moving into Beijing's old hutong neighborhoods for that very reason. Huguosi, Xicheng district in the city's west , is no exception, and contrary to what many might feel about gentrification, its residents welcome the idea.

"I have no problem if there are more foreigners who come to live in this hutong," said Bian Ge. "The only problem is communication, but the way I see it, there's no difference between Chinese and foreigners.

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 Source : China Daily  Editor: Ivy
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