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Public awareness of conservation issues is growing in Shanghai, so Professor Ruan Yisan is now turning his attention to the surrounding rural areas. A network of rivers and canals that crisscross the land have helped the growth of small towns flourishing on the water trade.

Professor Ruan's work now has a sense of urgency, since much of the countryside has already been destroyed. Modernisation in the 1980s filled many of the traditional canal ways to make way for roads, and old buildings were torn down to be replaced by new ones. Luckily, there are still a few towns and villages that have remained untouched.

In Xinchang, Professor Ruan points out traditional motifs and styles on the old buildings. He says that these, along with story-telling and other ancient customs, are the town's greatest asset and, if preserved properly, will attract tourism.

For Professor Ruan the best kind of progress takes the past with it.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
20 November 2007

Classroom Ideas

This clip could be used in a class discussion about tradition and modernisation. Ask the students to think how to balance these two things when cities are developed. Which do they think is more important?