“Burning down the house…”

The "pants" next to the burned CCTV tower

The "pants" on the right with the burned CCTV building on the left

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning when I get off the subway at Jintaixizhao station, I see the CCTV tower right across the street. For those of you that don’t know, the CCTV tower is one of Beijiing’s newest architectural accomplishments. It houses the countries media powerhouse that is essentially run by the Chinese government. In February, during the Spring Festival, one of the buildings in the CCTV “complex” caught fire from fireworks being lit too close to the building. The building is completely charred now. Luckily, causalities were minimal. The building itself was a hotel, but it was still in construction. While it was not the primary CCTV Tower (the one that looks like a pair of pants), it was still part of the new CCTV construction.

The burned building up close with the "pants on the right"

The burned building up close with the"pants" on the right

I have to imagine this will open some people’s eyes. Spring Festival was very fun, but full of what seemed like thoughtless celebration. I am referring mainly to the use of fireworks. I’ll admit that I truly enjoyed the fireworks. In fact, I loved it. I still thought throughout that it was amazing no buildings were harmed as people lit rockets mere feet from doors. Turns out one of the newest buildings in China fell victim. It is a glaring symbol in the Central Business District of Beijing right now. Each morning and evening I walk on the sidewalk across from the towers, I see at least one-person snapping a photo of the charred building. Unfortunately, CCTV runs almost all of the media in China. Information on this or what happens because of it will most likely be largely unreported.

Stay tuned for a series of new posts on travels, my internship, and other fun things in China starting Monday or Tuesday next week!

5 thoughts on ““Burning down the house…”

  1. Camilo

    Thanks for sharing this story. I loved your photos very much. Would you mind if I make one big vertical JPG file with both photos and upload it to Flickr with crediting you back with a link to this page? Just for the sake of spreading them.

    Thanks again

  2. Matt '10 Post author

    Camillo, that is fine by me. Please just post a link here also to the flickr page. And please include a link and credit back to me and this page here. Thanks!

  3. Erin

    Yeah, isn’t such a crazy waste of money! This building was burnt before it was even opened, and I think the CCTV tower is actually not being used still – because they haven’t resolved how to pull down the hotel without destabilizing the cantilever of the tower.
    I have to point out though that I think your comment about ‘thoughtless celebration’ is pretty insensitive, perhaps you should do some more research or talk to Chinese people about the tradition of using fireworks. There a lot of beliefs around the use of firework as a means of clearing away the bad spirits. Spring Festival is their most important celebration in the calendar and for many the only release from the ongoing grind of work. I agree that the use of the fireworks can be pretty dangerous, but I just think you need to look at why they use them more thoughtfully before you call them ‘thoughtless’.

  4. Matt


    It really was a shame that the CCTV tower was burned. I didn’t know that it’s still largely unoccupied. That really is unfortunate.

    In regards to my comment on “thoughtless celebration,” I did not intend to insult the ritual and large cultural significance around fireworks and Spring Festival. I entirely respect that and understand the role they play. I merely needed to comment on the fact that each night of Spring Festival I saw fireworks lit off so close to buildings that I was incredibly surprised the only victim in Beijing was the CCTV tower. The “thoughtless,” part was in reference to how most people decided to use their fireworks and where – there was a large disregard for safety. I see that as a major issue in a large city. To make it clear, I do not think that simply using fireworks is thoughtless – it is an important piece of the entire celebration and I truly enjoyed all of them. I do think that more care should be taken to alert people about fireworks safety – maybe try and keep them away from structures as much as possible.

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