Category Archives: Videos

Street art in Beijing

Robbbb has only been working as a street artist for three years but identifies his role as helping to document the rapidly changing urban and social environment in Beijing. It is among the cities crumbling ruins that he feels his work belongs – “Ruins are temporary [and] so are my works but I hope they’ll leave some mark in Beijing’s history”.

At present there is no specific law against street art in China but he believes this will change in the near future as people, and the authorities, begin to understand the subversive element of the movement.

To see more of the artist’s work, visit his website HERE.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Mini-documentary profiles artists who are shunning China’s urban explosion

In 2011, China had more people living in urban areas than rural areas for the first time in its history, and recent government statistics show that around 300 villages disappear per day in China. Yet in the face of rapid urbanization, a “back to land movement” is now also emerging. A new mini-documentary by Sun Yunfan and Leah Thompson, Down to the Countryside, looks at urban residents who, fed up with city life, are looking to revitalize the countryside, while preserving local tradition. The documentary follows Ou Ning, an artist and curator, who moved from Beijing to the village of Bishan, in Anhui province, in 2013. Ning considers himself part of China’s “new rural reconstruction movement,” and the documentary shows his quest to develop the rural economy and bring arts and culture to the countryside.

Learn more about the film on China File and check out an interview with the directors on CityLab.

H/T CityLab

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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China releases plan to incorporate farmers into cities

The government plans to move 215 millions people from rural areas to cities by the year 2025. One of the results awaited by the Chinese government by sustaining urbanisation is the creation of a consumer culture driving Chinese economy and raising standard living. But this plan will generate side effects concerning the integration of farmers moved into cities such as the lack of infrastructures (transports, houses, schools, hospitals) and the restricted access to public services for the people who are still registered as rural residents while they live since many years in the city. 

“Currently, nearly 54 percent of Chinese live in cities, but only 36 percent are registered as urban residents (…). The plan calls for integrating 100 million of these second-class citizens, so that by 2020, 60 percent of Chinese should be living in cities, with 45 percent enjoying full urban status, the plan states”.

According to urban planners, to make this plan effective, the government will have to carry out two complementaries reforms which are taxe reform, in order  to give more financial capacity to local authorities for investing into infrastructures, and farmers’ land rights reform, in order to give them the choice to keep or live their land. Two major reforms still however in the planning phase, according to Tao Ran, the acting director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy


For more information, read the full article: Johnson, Ian. China Releases Plan to Incorporate Farmers Into CitiesThe New York Times, March 17, 2014. [Retrieved March 19, 2014].

Oriane Pillet

Intern at the CNRS, UrbaChina project. M.A. in urban local development (IEDES, Paris); M.A. in international development studies (Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris - Utrecht University); B.A. in geography and law (Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris).

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Beijing’s urban farmers

Last week, Ai Chi-Han wrote a small article on community gardens in France. Similar trends can also be found in China, where urban dwellers are looking for healthier food. Small markets are now offering organic vegetables.

Reuters News, July 21, 2013

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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Greening the city: a multimedia animation online


Paris, 25 May 2010

Greening the city: amultimedia animation online.

Against the background of the International Year of Biodiversity and the Shangai 2010 World Expo, this new title of the CNRS Sagascience collection will explore towns through more than 600 photographs, films and interviews.

Urban biodiversity? In people’s minds, biodiversity brings up images of luxurious tropical forests rather than the flora surrounding town trees… Yet, urban ecosystems are increasingly of interest to the public and scientists alike.

Main themes include:

  • What kind of nature do we want to find in towns?
  • How can it be better accounted for in the construction of buildings?
  • What is a a green district?
  • Will towns of the future be green?
  • How does nature help urban dwellers live a better life?
  • How does it help them?

An animation in English, with Chinese subtitles, has been taken from this site to be presented from early June at the France Pavilion throughout the world exhibition in Shanghai.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Landscape artist creates rooftop garden for city buses

, Rooftop gardens on moving buses

Friday September 13, 2013

Environmental awareness has risen exponentially in recent years and people have regrown a strong urge to surround themselves with anything green amidst vast concrete jungles.

Vertical gardens, urban farming, guerrilla gardening are only a few phenomena that have only recently entered our daily lives. It is surprising why nobody had thought of it much earlier. Luckily, greening the city has gained a huge fan community. Landscape artist Marc Grañén, in collaboration with Grupo IRACO, takes it to the next level by using vehicle roofs as flower beds, turning unused space into little oases.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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CNRS video podcasts on urban planning


This collection of video podcasts was started on July 4, 2013 and for the following 6 weeks two new episodes are uploaded each week, to stream or download. The CNRS produces these videos to offer viewers a chance to find out about current research conducted in the field of urban planning in France. This new series of podcast videos is intended for a wide public and focuses on three themes: history and sociological method; materials, energy and networks; and the city of tomorrow.

Watch there first podcast and go to the website to watch there other videos.

Created by Sophie Bensadoun, Marie Chevais, Hervé Colombani, Christophe Gombert and Luc Ronat, produced by CNRS Images (2013, 12 x 7 min)


Aurélia Martin

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

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Guangzhou Bus Rapid Transit system

Guangzhou Bus Rapid Transit system from Momentum for Change on Vimeo.

The Guangzhou bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor opened in February 2010 after an extensive planning and design process by the Guangzhou Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute in partnership with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). The Guangzhou BRT is the is the first ‘metro replacement’ level BRT system outside South America. The system carries more than triple the single-directional passenger flows of any other BRT system in Asia, and is second only to Bogota’s BRT, Transmilenio, worldwide.


Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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China inaugurates Low-Carbon Day

China marks 1st National Low-carbon Day

China is marking its first National Low-carbon Day, in a fresh move to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the world’s second-largest economy.. National Low-Carbon Day will fall on the third day of the National Energy Efficiency Promotion Week every June.

Source: CCTV, 17 June 2013 (accessed 20 June 2013)

Read more Continue reading

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Green innovation in China

Joanna I. Lewis, Green Innovation in China. China’s Wind Power Industry and the Global Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy (March 2013)

As the greatest coal-producing and consuming nation in the world, China would seem an unlikely haven for wind power. Yet the country now boasts a world-class industry that promises to make low-carbon technology more affordable and available to all. Conducting an empirical study of China’s remarkable transition and the possibility of replicating their model elsewhere, Joanna I. Lewis adds greater depth to a theoretical understanding of China’s technological innovation systems and its current and future role in a globalized economy.
Read more on ChinaFile

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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The interview of Prof. Ni Pengfei

Prof. Ni Pengfei, a member of UrbaChina, is Director of the Urban and Real Estate Economy Research Unit in the Institute of Finance and Trade Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The interview with professor Ni was conducted by Wang Ang, the host of the TV show, Caijing mingren fang[財經名人訪], in August 2012, at China Central Television .

The questions put to professor Ni in this interview included the following:

  • “What are the main problems and disadvantages that China encounters in the process of urbanisation?”
  • “What are the causes of changes in cities’ competitiveness?”
  • “Is China’s urbanisation proceeding too quickly?”
  • “How does the household registration system influence urbanisation in China?”
  • “What are the major problems and challenges that the Chinese government should deal with by 2015?”

Professor Ni expressed various points of views regarding urbanisation in China.

Source: TV show, Caijing mingren fang (, August 2012, interview conducted by the TV show, Caijing mingren fang. The presenter is Wang Ang.

  • As this interview was held in Chinese, the Urbachina team will publish an abstract of it in English, which will be posted on the February 5 blog.


Chi-Han Ai

Ph.D. candidate of EHESS ( École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) focusing on regional economic development in China and Taiwan.

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Building leaders in urban transport planning

Source: , August 28th, 2012.

To meet the demands of China’s rapidly-urbanizing population, the transport system in Chinese cities needs to be increasingly smart and low-carbon.Take a look at a World Bank program that helps China build city leaders who have the capacity to build such systems.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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“Smarter Than Car”

“ Smarter Than Car ” is an organization founded in 2007 to promote urban mobility by using bicycles.

Source: CyclingAtlas, October 17, 2012. Youtube

Silently flowing through the streets and lanes of China’s cities, an ephemeral army of cyclists pedal their bicycles and tricycles to earn a living.

These men and women work hard, moving heavy loads in all kinds of weather conditions to make deliveries, sell products and services, find and collect recyclables, move furniture and other goods, and clean up the streets. They are the survivors of the fast-eroding Kingdom of the Bicycle.

The fact that motor vehicles were hard to come by before the economic reforms meant that cycle power prevailed in China. Cycling was used for many functions and jobs that otherwise would have been motorized. However, the use of pedal power for jobs was largely confined to official functions since labor controls were strict and even street vendors and other informal workers had a hard time avoiding sanctions. In terms of bicycle ownership, up to the mid-1970s most Chinese were not earning enough to purchase a bicycle, even when there were bikes available.

The Golden Age of cycling in China was the 1980s. Economic and market reforms had greatly improved the purchasing power of the average Chinese and industrial modernization allowed production to boom. However, Chinese were not wealthy enough to afford cars or other motorized transport and so the bicycle was the most popular vehicle. This was when individual and private use of bicycles floured along with cycling for livelihoods and trades. Foreigners reported extensively on the “floods” of cyclists in Chinese cities in the 1980s.

Despite the significant decline in bicycle ridership in China since the 1980s, bicycles are still ubiquitous in cities. While bicycles are primarily used for commuting, shopping and other utilitarian purposes, there are also a bewildering variety of cycle-based livelihoods and trades that have survived, many of which make use of customized tricycles. Cycling for leisure, health, sport and entertainment is increasing rapidly. But the question remains as to whether the cycling livelihoods of China can survive the changes in bicycle culture, urban fabric, technology and cost of living.

Interview with Liman Zhao, founder of Smarter Than Car.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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