I think this is an oblique reference to 孙子兵法,but in a modern context it just means:

'the government only cares about what is above ground, what is beneath the ground is unimportant'



What does the speaker mean with “重地上,轻地下”?

  • You already have your answer. It’s a pretty transparent phrase. 城市建设, though, is probably better interpreted as urban construction. – Mou某 Oct 23 '19 at 5:11
  • Just thought, maybe it is more a reference to 孙子的九地 which I could not grasp. – Pedroski Oct 23 '19 at 9:20
  • Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the parsing completely different? Sun Tzu talks of 轻地 and 重地, two nouns. But in the phrase you give both 轻 and 重 are verbs denoting levels of value. – Mou某 Oct 23 '19 at 13:07
  • 你是对的:重视,轻视。Sometimes I'm just flummoxed! – Pedroski Oct 24 '19 at 23:35

To me, as a native speaker, my intuition is that it is not something from old Chinese. Not all those sentences or phrases that use very few words come from old Chinese.

In this case, they just want to briefly summarize the current preference on urban construtation that people focus more on things above the ground rather than below the ground.

Actually, it is quite common to say “重A,轻B” in formal situations. It is also very common that people summarize some key characteristics in a brief way, making it looks like old Chinese. You can find a lot of them in some political files or slogans, such as “兴国之要,兴国之魂,立国之本,立党之本”。

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