26.06.2018 | The changing face of Beijing

Walking through Beijing’s hutongs – alleys bordered by rows of single-story courtyard houses that criss-cross the city – it is immediately apparent that the Chinese capital’s urban landscape is changing rapidly. A large proportion of the streets that were once lined with small restaurants and bars, filled with the bustle of shoppers, the heady aroma of street-food and the laughter of running children, are now noticeably quieter, cleaner, and more uniform in appearance.

Hutongs have long been hubs of commerce and community life in Beijing. Following the relaxation of restrictions on private commerce in the 1980s a number of residents illegally demolished front walls of their courtyard houses and opened small shops, restaurants, and snack stands – known collectively as “holes in the wall.” Initially home to grocery shops, snack vendors, and other community-focused businesses, in recent years entrepreneurs have set up trendy bars, boutiques, restaurants, and small cafés frequented by members of Beijing’s ever-growing young middle class and expats alike.

Click here to read more in The Diplomat.