Category Archives: Elosua, Miguel

The Guangdong Model of Urbanisation

The Guangdong Model of Urbanisation: Collective village land and the making of a new middle class. Paper written by Him Chung and Jonathan Unger (2013), China Perspectives, 2013/3, p. 33-41.

In some parts of China – and especially in Guangdong Province in southern China – rural communities have retained ownership of much of their land when its use is converted into urban neighbourhoods or industrial zones. In these areas, the rural collectives, rather than disappearing, have converted themselves into property companies and have been re-energised and strengthened as rental income pours into their coffers. The native residents, rather than being relocated, usually remain in the village’s old residential area. As beneficiaries of the profits generated by their village collective, they have become a new propertied class, often living in middle-class comfort on their dividends and rents. How this operates – and the major economic and social ramifications – is examined through onsite research in four communities: an industrialised village in the Pearl River delta; an urban neighbourhood in Shenzhen with its own subway station, whose land is still owned and administered by rural collectives; and two villages-in-the-city in Guangzhou’s new downtown districts, where fancy housing estates and high-rise office blocks owned by village collectives are springing up alongside newly rebuilt village temples and lineage halls.

Please click here to read the article (full text not available online): http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/6258

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Neglect of a neighbourhood: oral accounts of life in ‘old Beijing’ since the eve of the People’s Republic

Neglect of a neighbourhood: oral accounts of life in ‘old Beijing’ since the eve of the People’s Republic. Paper written by Harriet Evans (2014), Urban History, Volume 41, Issue04, November 2014 pp 686-704.

ABSTRACT

Oral accounts of life over seven decades in Dashalanr, a popular neighbourhood in central Beijing, reveal a social world that despite being shaped by the state’s policies of social and political classification, housing and employment, has been resistant to complete appropriation by them. Based on research in the neighbourhood since 2005, and drawing on Xuanwu District archives, this article examines local residents’ accounts of long decades of hardship and neglect. With an analytical framework that links gender with temporality, place and space, it suggests ways in which their singular experiences can be read as historical narrative.

Please click here to read the article (access restricted): http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=9357383

 

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Transitional Property Rights and Local Developmental History in China

Paper written by Daniel Abramson, Journal of Urban Studies, 48:553, SAGE (2011). DOI: 10.1177/0042098010390237

Abstract

Among the societies that are moving from a centrally planned economy with weak property rights towards a market-oriented economy with stronger and more privatised property rights, China is undergoing an especially rapid and extensive urbanisation that obscures the diversity and relevance of local pre-Reform property arrangements. Official discourse emphasises the formalisation, clarification and, to some extent, the privatisation of property rights in the name of overall societal development and gradual integration with the global economy. In local informal, popular practice and discourse, however, the invocation of property rights reflects the continuing political relevance of both revolutionary and traditional notions of rights to urban space that challenge a unitary, linear view of the development process.

Using the rather unique case of Quanzhou (泉州), in the province of Fujian, the second-largest qiaoxiang (侨乡) province after Guangdong, Abramson shows how property rights in this town have been protected throughout China’s turbulent twentieth century thanks in part to the special status overseas Chinese have enjoyed during this time.

Please click here to read the article (access restricted): http://usj.sagepub.com/content/48/3/553

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Urbachina’s WP5 workshop at LSE

LSE2

Stephan Feuchwang, leader of Urbachina’s work package 5 “Urban development, traditions and modern lifestyles” organised a workshop at the London School of Economics and Political Science on 25 and 26 September. During the workshop, the researchers from this team (Zhang Hui, Luo Pan, Wang Xiaoxia, Jude Howell, Paula Morais, and Renate Krieg) shared their findings for discussion and comparison not only with each other, but also with our two scientific advisers who have vast research experience in urban life and planning in China, Dan Abramson and David Bray, and with a number of others who have conducted research on urban life and governance in China and other parts of the world, including Europe.

The task of this work package on ‘urban development, traditions and modern lifestyles’ has been to investigate how new municipal institutions interact with residents, who bring to their urban relocation ways of organising themselves and improvise new ones. The focal topics were urban government, self-government and social sustainability.

Field research was conducted between March 2012 and April 2014 in the four cities selected by the UrbaChina consortium: the two large cities of Shanghai and Chongqing, and the two medium sized cities of Kunming and Huangshan. It is the most extensive systematic research on urban communities, as well as the most recent to date. One of the main results has been the deconstruction of the very conception of community, as a policy concept and an instrument of governance.

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Japanese nail house (dingzihu – 钉子户)?

 

Building penetrated by an expressway 001 OSAKA JPN.jpg
Building penetrated by an expressway 001 OSAKA JPN” by ignisOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

In the last few years, the phenomenon of the “nail house” (dingzi hu – 钉子户) has become rather frequent in China, as land acquisitions are ubiquitous and residents are usually not satisfied with either with the land seizure or the compensation package. Apparently, the term is a pun coined by developers to refer to “nails that are stuck in wood and cannot be pounded down with a hammer”.1 The existence of this phenomenon suggests that the best way for residents to protect the rights to their homes is to make them their stronghold. This course of action, however, is not risk-free, as many sad events have proved over the last few decades of meteoric development.

Reading about nail houses, I came across this photo of the Gate Tower Building in Osaka, also called the Beehive because it always seems busy. A highway passes through its fifth to seventh floors, of which it is the tenant! Cars pass through the building when exiting the highway.

As explained by Wikipedia2:

 “The elevator passes through the floors without stopping: floor 4 being followed by floor 8. The floors through which the highway passes consist of elevators, stairways and machinery. The highway does not make contact with the building. It passes through as a bridge, held up by supports next to the building. The highway is surrounded by a structure to protect the building from noise and vibration.”

However, the building didn’t exist at the time of the construction of the highway. In fact, both constructions were planned almost at the same time, and the property rights’ holder of the planned office building (who was the owner of the land) and the highway corporation negotiated for five years to reach this arrangement. It was facilitated by a reform in regulations allowing for the development of highways and buildings in the same space, something termed “multi-level road system” in its English translation.

I’m not familiar with the Japanese property rights system but I wonder why the government did not seize the land through expropriation. The construction of highways typically meets the requirement of public use. At any rate, the agreement shows a lot of creativity on the part of both parties and the government to make the best use of limited resources without compromising the interests of everyone involved. It’s also a good compromise to avoid the so-called tragedy of the anticommons, which occurs when property rights’ holders can’t reach an agreement and land remains undeveloped.

  1. See article about holdouts on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holdout_(architecture)#Nail_house []
  2. See article about the Gate Tower Building on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gate_Tower_Building []

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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City Versus Countryside in Mao’s China: Negotiating the Divide

 

Jeremy Brown (2012). City Versus Countryside in Mao’s China: 
Negotiating the Divide. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9781107424548.

The gap between those living in the city and those in the countryside remains one of China’s most intractable problems. As this powerful work of grassroots history argues, the origins of China’s rural-urban divide can be traced back to the Mao Zedong era. While Mao pledged to remove the gap between the city worker and the peasant, his revolutionary policies misfired and ended up provoking still greater discrepancies between town and country, usually to the disadvantage of villagers. Through archival sources, personal diaries, untapped government dossiers, and interviews with people from cities and villages in northern China, the book recounts their personal experiences, showing how they retaliated against the daily restrictions imposed on their activities while traversing between the city and the countryside. Vivid and harrowing accounts of forced and illicit migration, the staggering inequity of the Great Leap Famine, and political exile and deportation during the Cultural Revolution reveal how Chinese people fought back against policies that pitted city dwellers against villagers.

For more information about this book: http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/east-asian-history/city-versus-countryside-in-maos-china-negotiating-divide?format=PB?format=PB

Link to book review by Yixin Chen (2013) at The China Quarterly, Volume 214, June 2013 pp 479-480: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=8944098

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Reclaiming the Neighbourhood. Urban redevelopment, citizen activism, and conflicts of recognition in Guangzhou

Bettina Gransow, « Reclaiming the Neighbourhood. Urban redevelopment, citizen activism, and conflicts of recognition in Guangzhou », China Perspectives [Online], 2014/2 | 2014, Online since 01 June 2014, connection on 04 September 2014. URL : http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/6425

This study examines social interventions into the everyday life of residents, families, and communities during a redevelopment project in an old town neighbourhood of Guangzhou. It further analyses how citizen activism unfolds in response to these redevelopment interventions. To better understand contention over the renewal of an old town neighbourhood – beyond negotiation of compensation for economic losses – the study is structured by a recognition-theoretical model of social conflict following Axel Honneth and Nancy Fraser.

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Managing Migrant Contestation. Land appropriation, intermediate agency, and regulated space in Shenzhen

Edmund W. Cheng. Managing Migrant Contestation. Land appropriation, intermediate agency, and regulated space in Shenzhen. Published in China Perspectives 2014/2: P.27.

This study considers the conditions under which China’s massive internal migration and urbanisation have resulted in relatively governed, less contentious, and yet fragile migrant enclaves. Shenzhen, the hub for rural-urban migration and a pioneer of market reform, is chosen to illustrate the dynamics of spatial contestation in China’s sunbelt. This paper first correlates the socialist land appropriation mechanisms to the making of the factory dormitory and urban village as dominant forms of migrant accommodation. It then explains how and why overt contention has been managed by certain intermediate agencies in the urban villages that have not only provided public goods but also regulated social order. It ends with an evaluation of the fragility of urban villages, which tend to facilitate urban redevelopment at the expense of migrants’ living space. The interplay between socialist institutions and market forces has thus ensured that migrant enclaves are regulated and integrated into the formal city.

 

 

 

 

 

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Strategic Modelling: “Building a New Socialist Countryside” in Three Chinese Counties

Anna L. Ahlers and Gunter Schubert (2013). Strategic Modelling: “Building a New Socialist Countryside” in Three Chinese Counties . The China Quarterly, 216, pp 831-849. doi:10.1017/S0305741013001045.

Models, pilots and experiments are considered distinctive features of the Chinese policy process. However, empirical studies on local modelling practices are rare. This article analyses the ways in which three rural counties in three different provinces engage in strategies of modelling and piloting to implement the central government’s “Building a New Socialist Countryside” (shehuizhuyi xinnongcun jianshe) programme. It explains how county and township governments apply these strategies and to what effect. It also highlights the scope and limitations of local models and pilots as useful mechanisms for spurring national development. The authors plead for a fresh look at local modelling practices, arguing that these can tell us much about the realities of governance in rural China today.

  • More information at The China Quarterly: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0305741013001045

 

 

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Midday siesta

Siesta

This photo was taken last April behind the Huguang Guild Hall in Chongqing. Huguang Guild Hall is located in Chaotianmen, an old neighbourhood at the confluence of the Jialing and Yangtze rivers, which used to be the landing place for boats travelling on both rivers. Now this neighbourhood awaits its demolition. The guild hall, built during the reign of Qianlong, will remain standing while witnessing the high-speed modernization of the neighbourhood. The photo was taken just after lunch, the time of the siesta, a sacred custom in China.

The Chinese treasure the siesta, and devote at least half an hour a day for resting after lunch no matter where they are or what they are doing: white-collars take their pillows to their office and have no qualms falling asleep at desks; university students vanish as they go to their dorms to take a nap just after lunch and before afternoon classes resume. The siesta is regarded as a healthy activity according to Chinese medicine. This is an interesting philosophy when contrasted with the West, where it has almost become a synonym of laziness. Ever since I was a kid, whenever I went abroad, foreigners would tell me about the Spanish “easy” approach to work, something that was apparently related to our devotion to the siesta. In Spain, people have grown increasingly polarized about this topic, and most office workers said adiós to siesta a long time ago. The Chinese, on the contrary, seem to have got away with keeping it, and their reputation as tough workers remains intact despite adhering to this tradition. Also, they all seem to agree on the benefits of a good siesta.

Looking at this lady resting at the entrance of the temple enjoying the coolness provided by the stone walls, one feels inspired to make the best use of the idle afternoons of this summer interlude.

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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The race for expansion – Cerdá Year

Captura de pantalla 2014-08-08 a las 03.08.28

Exactly 150 years ago, on the 7th of June 1859, the Plan for Reform and Development of Barcelona was approved. This was the work of Ildefonso Cerdá. The Plan is considered to be a pioneer in the development of modern urbanism. What continues to surprise today is Cerdá’s capacity to predict the protagonistic role which public transport would play in the city.

For more information on the Cerdá Year, please click here: http://www.anycerda.org/eng/

 

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Reform of the hukou: Not a liberalisation of the rural land market

Captura de pantalla 2014-07-30 a las 16.32.49

This news piece concerns the  hukou reform announced on Wednesday (guowuyuan guanyu jinyibu tuijin huji zhidu gaige de yijian – 院关于一步推籍制度改革的意), which plans to eliminate the anachronistic distinction between agricultural  and non-agricultural registration. From now on, citizens will be classified simply as residents. The report explains that the reform won’t affect a liberalisation of rural land rights that would allow urban residents moving towards rural areas and acquire rural land-use rights, which is illegal up to now. The report explains that the reform won’t affect the “bidirectional flow of people” (shuangxiang liudong – 双向流动), in contrast to the existing legal framework that only permits the “one-way circulation of rural residents towards the city”.

Please click here to watch the report on chinanews.com: http://www.chinanews.com/shipin/2014/06-21/news447205.shtml

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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City scale models and their implications

Maqueta

This photo was taken during UrbaChina’s 4th International Conference, which was held in Chongqing from 28 to 30 May. Attendees paid a visit to the Chongqing Planning Exhibition Gallery. This giant scale model of the city of Chongqing, displays all existing and planned buildings up to 2020. After seeing the scale model and listening to the optimistic presentation, one of the attendees made a very sharp remark observing that such a scale model would be unimaginable in his country, France in this case. He was not talking about the technical difficulty of producing such a model, but to the number of legal questions that would make it virtually impossible to predict the future development of a city in such detail. This scale model not only includes new public spaces that require an expropriation procedure, but also new private developments, condominiums, office buildings, shopping malls, in locations where nowadays probably include only private properties (and collective land). In China, it means that the city agreed many years in advance to expropriate the area of land necessary to carry out this transformation. It means that the local government considers any activity related to urbanisation as able to answer the general interest. It also presupposes that the local government will manage to find the financial resources to undertake the gigantic construction work. Finally, had this been the scale model of a European city, it would also assume that nobody would oppose the urban plan, which is not unusual. Besides, the Courts sometimes decide in favour of the opponents, compelling city planners to modify the plan.

 

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Miguel Elosua’s thesis defense at ECUPL

Miguel Elosua thesis defense

Miguel Elosua, PhD student at the EHESS,  defended his PhD thesis in law at East China University of Political Science and Law (ECUPL) on 14 June 2014.

Jury membres

  • 段匡 (Duan Kuang) Fudan Daxue Jiaoshou
  • 彭诚信(Peng Chengxin) Jiaotong Daxue Jiaoshou
  • 傅鼎生 (Fu Dingsheng) Huadong Zhengfa Daxue Jiaoshou
  • 张驰 (Zhang Chi) Huadong Zhengfa Daxue Jiaoshou
  • 金可可 (Jin Keke) Huadong Zhengfa Daxue Jiaoshou

Thesis supervisor

  • 高富平 (Gao Fuping) Huadong Zhengfa Daxue Jiaoshou

Thesis title

Nongcun jiti tudi chengshihua de zhidu yanjiu – yi chengxiang tudi liyong yitihua wei shejiao) 农村集体土地城市化的制度研究——以城乡土地利用体制一体化为视角/Study on a system of urbanisation of the rural collective land – Rural and urban integration of the land use system in perspective.

Abstract in Chinese and English

在中国,自从共产党执政以来,土地权利一直就是一个核心问题。在1978年改革进程开始前,土地集体所有制下的土地分配利用一直是农村的主要经济基础,城市和农村之间的土地利用模式之间并不存在任何区别。然而,自1980年代以来,特别是20世纪90年 代,农村土地与城市土地制度开始出现分化,城乡差距也渐渐开始拉大。随着城市土地使用权的商业化流转,城市形成了一个蓬勃发展的房地产市场,极大地为经济 的稳健发展和城市居民的福利作出了贡献。然而,城市所形成的具有社会主义特色和准自由的土地市场,使得城乡土地二元利用体制不断得到深化:城市的土地转 让、出租和抵押,可以充分实现土地的内在价值,然而农村土地却被牢牢禁锢。中国共产党农村土地政策的背后,是共同富裕的理想。然而,中国经过三十多年的快 速经济发展,农村地区却是一直处于一种共同贫穷的境况。农村和城市之间的贫富差距随着经济的发展变得越来越明显。笔者认为这种城乡差距的主要根源之一在于 土地的产权制度即城乡土地二元利用体制。城乡土地二元利用体制已经到了不得不改革的时刻。实现农村的自主城市化发展的路径只能是完全彻底地突破城乡土地利 用二元体制,摒弃现有的以征收为主要方式的土地城市化,归还农村本应当享有的土地发展权,保障在土地城市化进程中农村土地不改变权属地实现商业化和市场 化,实现中国统筹城乡的快速城市化进程。最后,笔者采用比较的角度分析了西班牙产权制度,并且将西班牙土地制度中的有益部分引入中国农村土地自由流转的设 计方案之中。

In China, land rights have always been a central concern for the Chinese Communist Party since it came to power. Before the start of the reform process in 1978, the system of property for collective land was the foundation of the collective economy in rural areas. However, since the 1980s, and especially since the 1990s it has coexisted with an urban system where land has been progressively liberalised. In urban land there is a thriving market in real estate that has contributed greatly to the robustness of the economy and the welfare of urban residents. However, this also led to the increasingly less peaceful coexistence of two diametrically opposed systems of property: a system of collective ownership with socialist characteristics and a quasi free-market system where land can be transferred, leased, or used as collateral, exploiting its inherent value.

Behind the rural land policy of the CCP is the ideal of common prosperity. However, after more than thirty years of rapid economic development, a salient feature of China’s rural areas has been the common poverty of the farmer class as a whole. The economic gap between the rural and the urban has not ceased to increase. The author argues that one of the main causes of this urban-rural gap lies in the dual system of land property rights, which has proved to be flawed, as farmers have been deprived from exploiting the value of their most precious asset: land. Therefore, the author advocates reforming the dual property system, and more specifically, the land-use rights system concerning rural construction land. In order to carry out such a reform the author argues that allowing collectives to fully exercise their property rights, particularly land development rights, is the optimal solution. The author proposes that, during the process of land urbanisation, ownership of land does not change, allowing collectives to develop and market construction land, fostering the countryside’s self-urbanization as the best way to finance their development and to achieve urban-rural integration. Finally, the author uses a comparative perspective analysing the Spanish property rights system as a reference, eventually devising a plan for the liberalisation of the rural land market.

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l’UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

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