Earlier today, we visited the construction site of what had been the World Trade Center in New York before Sept. 11, 2001. Today, One World Trade Center (formerly called the Freedom Tower, before a Chinese government parastatal organization became the first commercial tenants of the building) is nearing completion, as is a memorial museum and footprint monument on old WTC site.
Of course, much has changed in the past decade. Undoubtedly the site — and the construction progress under-way — is impressive, but you can see some irony in the devalued US currency and the building’s name change for “bottom line marketing considerations,” according to a 2009 Associated Press report quoting an article in the New York Daily News.
The newspaper said the change came after board members voted to sign a 21-year lease deal with Vantone, a Chinese real estate giant, which will become the first commercial tenant at Ground Zero.
The negotiations with Vantone, which is closely affiliated with the Chinese Communist government, had nothing to do with the name change, Port Authority officials told the News, but was based primarily on bottom-line marketing considerations.
I have mixed emotions after the site’s tour, in a program co-ordinated by a museum representing victims’ families. At one point, hate destroyed, then community, love and resources are rebuilding. But war has sapped the US economy and now threatens much greater problems in the world’s fabric. Where does China fit in this story?