Category Archives: Chongqing

Killing Time

Ping Pong

This photo was taken in November 2013 in Nanchuan district, Chongqing. Farmers have been relocated and concentrated in a remote area with little or no public transportation (as of the date when the photo was taken). The concentration of farmers’ homesteads usually takes place in order to optimise the use of arable land as farmers’ homes are scattered throughout the fields and this is an obstacle for the consolidation of arable land now taking place everywhere around the country. Other motivations include the preservation of the threshold of arable land set by the central government by recovering arable land, the improvement of rural infrastructures, and the search of a solution for the problem of the hollow villages (due to the massive migration of young people to the cities, many homesteads remain empty most of the time). A concentration of resources takes place, and farmers are relocated to newly built residential communities (xinxing nongcun shequ – 新型农村社区). Usually, farmers lease the new consolidated land to a cooperative, and some of them continue working the land as employees of the cooperative.

This case is very different. The local government has used the expropriated land in a more lucrative way for its budget, as it has managed to attract private investment (a real estate developer listed in the Hong Kong Stock Market), and develop a tourist town with houses dedicated to the upper-middle class of Chongqing who are in the look for a weekend retreat outside of the metropolitan area. Normally, the law interdicts urban residents to buy rural land but, through the intervention of the visible hand of the government, farmers’ land is expropriated and converted into state land. The miracle is performed. Profits are handsome for the local government, for the real estate developer and, by extension, for all the investors who put their savings into this company, and who will see the dividend payout increase as a result of the difficult-to-match-elsewhere performance of the company. The only ones who won’t make a penny are the original owners of the land.

As a result, the collective economic system is completely wiped out. Farmers will not recuperate their land, except if they buy it at the market price (unattainable after the development of the area). They have a sense of having been cheated. There have been barred from entering the new town, except for the few lucky ones who will be hired by the developer for gardening work. The construction of their new town miles away from the tourist area limits the possibility for entrepreneurism. Youngsters leave their ancestral land to look for a job in the city, and the old ones remain in the new town, which becomes a retirement town. Most of them do not have enough savings for paying the utilities’ bill and need to improvise outdoor kitchens. They live off the remittances from their offspring.

During the Third Plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress held in Beijing in November 2013, the government announced plans to implement reforms regarding farmers’ construction land-use rights. The Chinese leadership finally agreed on the need to equate rural construction land use rights with urban construction land rights under the “same land same rights” principle (tongdi tongquan – 同地同权).1 Would farmers agree to sell their homesteads and be grouped in new residential communities given the choice to transfer their land use rights to whomever they wish?

 

  1. Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party to strengthen the important problems posed by the reform (zhonggong zhongyang guanyu quanmian shenhua gaige ruogan zhongda wenti de jueding– 中共中央关于全面深化改革若干重大问题的决定). http://www.hmdjw.gov.cn/article/show-4104.html. Last retrieved December 10, 2013. []

Miguel Elosua

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

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Eats on the street

It doesn’t matter how many times you tell the cook not to add hot peppers, anything you order in Chongqing is going to be mouth-numbing and hotter than anything you’ve ever tasted before. It will be good, but it will be hot. From hotpot joints and street-corner barbecues to cold noodles served out of buckets dangling from a bamboo pole, Chongqing’s street vendors operate late into the night. You’ll be lucky to get a table at the restaurants on Tiyu Road, an area in Chongqing’s central Yuzhong district and ground zero for the city’s street food scene. But just about every little road throughout the city has a few cooks that set up shop on the street. In the morning, you can find savory fried dough, rice porridge, and pots of steaming hot “flower” tofu, ready to be garnished with an assortment of beans, nuts, herbs, and, of course, fiery peppers.
Read more and see more photos on ChinaFile

Jacqueline Nivard

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

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What will happen to Uber in China?

Tea Leaf Nation 01.08.15

Ride-sharing app Uber has expanded around the world at a blistering pace, launching in a new city every one or two days. At first glance, China would appear the ideal fit for the Silicon Valley startup. Most urban residents in the world’s second-largest economy rely on sclerotic local taxi monopolies whose numbers have failed to match the country’s breakneck urbanization: the population of the capital Beijing, for example, has grown by nearly 50 percent to 20 million in the past ten years, while its taxi fleet of 66,000 remains the same size it was in 2003. The potential for a better way to get around town is clearly immense.

But on December 23, Uber suffered a setback when local authorities raided its office in the large southern city of Chongqing, a sign the company may encounter regulatory scrutiny in China similar to what it has encountered in other countries. Uber’s Chongqing travails initially appear to be yet another case in the recent string of large foreign firms finding themselves in the crosshairs of Chinese regulators—often to the benefit of domestic champions. It may come as a surprise, then, that Uber’s local competitors have come in for their share of official scrutiny as well.

Read the full text

Jacqueline Nivard

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

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Chinese urbanisation and real estate development

On December 5th, World Chinese Economic Forum was held in Chongqing. City officials, experts and representatives from Chongqing, London, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne and other cities had a discussion about urbanization and real estate development.

 Chen Chengwei, an expert from Australia, ,believes that, judging from the current real estate market and the government’s control measures of the housing market, the real estate prices in some Chinese cities have more space for contraction, especially in the investment housing market. “Due to China’s new urbanization, the real estate market will be released; although the price slump of ordinary housing is unlikely, investors should do some research and analysis before buying and selling and be more cautious in investing,” said Chen.

How the new urbanization construction can be carried out and promoted is another topic that concerned the participating experts and scholars. Former mayor of Melbourne, Su Zhenxi has been committed to researches in sustainable development of world cities. He believes that the reason way China is proposing a “new” urbanization is that the Chinese government will implement measures and policies different from what had been implemented in the past, and that the key is to strike a balance between moderate stable economic growth and environment protection.

Article from http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2014-12/05/nw.D110000renmrb_20141205_2-02.htm111

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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Arrival city: how the largest migration in history is reshaping our world

Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World. Book written by Doug Saunders, and published by Knopf Canada (September 21, 2010).

Arrival city

What will be remembered about our century, more than anything except perhaps changes to the climate, is the final shift of human populations from agricultural life to cities, the effects of which are being felt around the world. Arrival City gives us an on-the-ground view of this phenomenon—from Maryland to Shenzhen, from thefavelas of Rio to the shanty towns of Mumbai, from Los Angeles to Nairobi.

Doug Saunders introduces us to the migrants themselves, and with the aid of their stories elucidates their essential part in the economic fabric. He makes clear that the cities and nations that provide citizenship and opportunity to migrants stand to benefit as the migrant class evolves into a middle class, and he explains why those that ignore these people will see increased social unrest, poverty, and religious fundamentalism.

 

 

 

Miguel Elosua

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

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The new megacities

As reported by the SCMP, last week, China’ State Council launched a new megacity category to urban planning.

Beijng, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Chongqing will fall into this category. Special policies may regulate these megacities. Will this new satus limit migrants’integration into megacities?

Full article available here.

 

 

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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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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… And bridges

The Chongqing Municipality counts over 50 bridges, twenty or so in the urban centre. Aside from two exceptions, Baishatuo Railway Bridge and Shibanpo Bridge, all of these bridges were built and opened during the last 20 years.

One of the most recent projects in Chongqing is the creation of the “Liangjiang bridge”: two bridges and a tunnel which span the Liangjiang New Area, from the south bank of the Yangtze, crossing the Yuzhong district, to the north bank of the Jialing River. The twin bridges were designed by T. Y. Lin International. The Dongshuimen Yangtze River Bridge (above) has been complete since 31 March 2014. The Qianximen Jialing River Bridge (below) has yet to be finished, but should be opened in June 2014.

qiansimenbridge-väin

Photo by Lauri Väin (2013). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Perhaps the most amazing part of this transition from past to modern infrastructure is, as usual for China, its speed.

Aurélia Martin

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

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Of cable cars…

Once upon a time, the main method of crossing the Yangtze and Jialing rivers was the cable cars, or ropeways, swinging high over the city from one hilltop to the other. Until 1960, there were no bridges crossing the Yangtze River around Chongqing.

長江索道-yeung

Photo by Yeung Ming (2014). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

The picture above shows the remaining ropeway which crosses the Yangtze River, starting from the Yuzhong peninsula. It is still in use as transport, but mostly serves as a tourist attraction. In the top left corner, we can see the latest bridge of many which ousted the ropeways: the Dongshuimen Bridge. The Jialing cable cars (pictured below) ceased operating in December 2013, as they slowly fell out of use because of increasing alternative and easier routes, such as tunnels and, of course, bridges.

Tomorrow’s post will showcase some photos of the latest bridges being built in Chongqing.

Aurélia Martin

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

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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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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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A vanishing Chongqing

This photo was taken behind the Ciyun monastery (慈云寺) in Nanan district (南岸区), Chongqing, on 30 May 2014.

There is a quote credited to William Faulkner, but which I have never been able to confirm, and describes perfectly the experience of walking through Nanan district: “A landscape is conquered with the soles of the shoes, not the wheels of a car“. Walking the steep and narrow streets of this doomed district is the only way to imagine and somehow feel how life was before urbanisation and modernisation brought all the artefacts seen in the background of this photo. This neighbourhood is a remnant of old Chongqing, tightly tucked away on the bank of the Yangtze in the shadow of a new bridge, across from the Jiefangbei CBD (located in Chaotianmen), on the other side of the river. Chaotianmen is at the confluence of the Jialing and Yangtze Rivers, at the tip of Yuzhong peninsula.

A vanishing Chongqing (II), Elosua Miguel

This old man spends a few hours a day taking care of his orchards, which are scattered around the neighbourhood. In spite of his old age, 93 years, he negotiates these steep steps with an astounding vitality. Looking at him, one marvels at his strength. But it also makes one wonder what the rationale is for building a city on such difficult terrain. A friend who walked the streets with me, who happens to be a geographer, suggested the easy access to water, to fishing and to trade routes as the most plausible reason.

A vanishing Chongqing (III), Elosua Miguel

The old man’s wife is 84 years old and also looks very healthy. The crutches are just temporary, as she’s recovering from a minor injury. Neither of them speaks Mandarin but the local dialect, as is often the case among the elderly. Looking at them, one just hopes that the bulldozers will not arrive before the old man and his wife have seen out their days in the only place that they have really known. To uproot them would probably break them.

A vanishing Chognqing, Elosua Miguel

Miguel Elosua

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

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4th UrbaChina International Conference handbook

The 4th UrbaChina International Conference was held in Chongqing and was organised by Chongqing University. The entire conference included two days of discussion and a one day field trip. Participants visited Chongqing Liangjiang new area, the Jiangbeizui central business district, and a new rural village named Wubao Village in Jiangbei District.

Conference handbook

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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Media coverage of UrbaChina’s 4th International Conference

CTV News reported on the development of the conference interviewing, among others, UrbaChina’s coordinator François Gipouloux, and LSE professor Athar Hussain.

Captura de pantalla 2014-06-11 a las 11.51.23

Please click on the following link to watch the report:

http://tv.people.com.cn/n/2014/0528/c150716-25077655.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miguel Elosua

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

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Policy implementation through the lowest levels of the state

This presentation was given by Stephan Feuchtwang during the 4th international conference of UrbaChina held in Chongqing from May 28th to May 30th, 2014. It shows the results of the fieldwork completed this year in five neighbourhood committees (juweihui-居委会) in Chongqing.

Miguel Elosua

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

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