As the 2022 Winter Olympics get closer and closer, the new stadiums in China are gaining more and more popularity. The designs are eye-catching and the snow-covered mountainous landscape is breathtaking. 

Constructed in Jiankou, Yanqing and Beijing, these arenas are the most innovative to date, architecturally speaking. However compared to Beijing, Jiankou and Yanqing are remote cities. 

Why would China choose to construct its Olympic stadiums in such a rural location? 

Population and Wealth Distribution in China

Hu Line

The locations of these new stadiums are in response to a phenomenon known as the Hu Line. 

The Hu Line is an imaginary border that separates the majority of China’s population from the rest. The eastern half of China holds 94% of China’s population, while the western part holds a measly 6%.

Both halves are equal in area, so how can this be? 

China's TopographyChina’s topography is in part to blame for this phenomenon. With high mountains and hard-to-access places, the west became less populated. 

Additionally, as the eastern half of China began to progress economically, many moved east to seek better opportunities.

Shougang Big Air Stadium in Beijing

China’s hope for these new stadiums is to allow for a steady enrichment of western cities such as Jiankou and Yanqing. This would hopefully lead to a more equal population distribution in China as well. 

Building for sustainable development is one step towards equalizing population distribution. But can China achieve its end goal of full equal distribution?

Roadblocks in Achieving Population Distribution Equality

Niujie Village in Yunnan Province, which has not seen mass urbanization trends like villages in the east.

Historically, the western parts of China were widely untouched during the 1900s. This was due to the presence of warlords and China’s development as a republic in the east. 

Mass urbanization has yet to influence most of western China. This disparity between the west and east will continue to grow if China does not pour more resources into western provinces directly. 

The concept of gradual indirect growth in western cities is attractive. However it fails to realize that the Hu Line will not change with slow progress. 

While the west grows, the east will do the same, if not faster. Direct and quick planning for western China to advance could make for a better solution to the Hu Line phenomenon. 

How effective will this plan be in China? This is another thing to consider during an upcoming Winter Olympics that is already dealing with a global pandemic. 

If the plan is successful, could it be adopted in other countries to spread out wealth more evenly? We will just have to see if China takes the gold for this project!

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Collin Absher

Collin Absher is a Chinese Studies major at the College of William and Mary. Collin hopes to spread his love of Chinese Literature and poetry in fun ways!
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