In a society that is modernizing with passion, it is perhaps hard to share the defense of the past that characterizes societies that have their modernization behind them. But responding to internal and foreign criticism, the issue is now taken very seriously by Beijing planners. By consensus, the hutongs – the generic substance of the Chinese city – are most characteristic of Beijing's 'past'. The dilemma: building is less permanent in Asia and restoration often leads to a harsh reconstruction from zero that removes all traces of authenticity in favor of rigid, bloated rebuilding. In the name of preservation, the past is made unrecognizable.