Category Archives: Chongqing

Newsstand

 

书3

Newsstand in Chaotianmen (朝天门), near the confluence of the Jialing river (嘉陵江) and the Yangzte (长江). Photo taken during a field trip to Chongqing in March 2014.

In the age of smart phones, e-books, personal digital assistants, tablets, and a long train of etcetera, paper books seem to be doomed to disappear from the streets. This outcome, which has been attempted by emperors and envisioned in science fiction, might eventually happen due to technology. Perhaps it was happening already, before the arrival of these electronic devices, which in most cases are used for anything but reading. At any rate, the passer-by is captivated once more by traditional newsstands that bring a whiff of nostalgia. The one in the photo offers a library service as well. Readers may borrow books from the collection available for 1 yuan a day. There is no need to register or ask for a reader’s card. Trust is taken for granted, and it seems to work. According to the seller, never has a reader forgotten to return a book.

Miguel Elosua

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

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A distinctive social class

Farmers

Farmers enjoying tea at a local teahouse in Yongchuan district (永川区), Chongqing. Photo taken during a field trip to Chongqing in November 2013.

The dual citizenship and property system in China has forged the collective rural identity. Having a rural hukou provides some benefits, especially concerning rural land rights. However, this rural, or farmer’s, identity constitutes a barrier for many migrant workers who have been living in urban areas, some for decades. In many places, the hukou has been relaxed, but in large cities like Beijing or Shanghai restrictions are still in place. There is little doubt that the lack of a local resident permit presents an obstacle for integration and identification with the host city. Migrant workers continue to have a preference for marrying their peers from the country. Very often, one can hear them making plans to go back to their hometowns after they retired. But, what seems more peculiar to an outsider is to learn that many still call or consider themselves farmers. According to the (English) dictionary, a farmer is a person who owns or manages a farm, or cultivates land. However, in China it has a very different meaning: it is a social class. It refers equally to those who engage in the farming industry and those who work in the city but possess a rural residence permit. Actually, the (usual) Chinese name for migrant workers does not contain the word “migrant” but “farmer” (nongmin-gong – 农民工). In fact, it also includes the fellows who joyfully sip at their tea in the photo, but whose industry is alien to the writer.

Miguel Elosua

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

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Hobo

Homeless

A homeless person resting in a building waiting to be demolished around Tongyuanju (铜元局). Photo taken during a field trip to Chongqing in November 2013. Although the low-income allowance (dibao - 低保) covers the whole territory of Chongqing now, the amount given very low. In 2013, the allowance for urban residents was 300 yuan per month (185 yuan/month in rural areas), but it can be lower depending on the family income. In order to get this subsidy, the applicant must meet some requirements such as an income lower than 1450 yuan per month. There is growing social discontent because of the lack of affordable housing. The importance of the real estate industry to the economy is such that the government still has not properly addressed the housing issues faced by the most desperate. The city of Chongqing announced an ambitious plan for social housing in 2010. However, this housing plan is mostly intended for workers with stable jobs and income.

Miguel Elosua

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

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Working paper UrbaChina no.2 now online

The UrbaChina team is pleased to announce the publication of the 2nd UrbaChina working paper entitled “Urbanisation and changes in the sectoral structure of economic development: the scale of the manufacturing sector in Chinese cities and the shift towards service industry“.

This paper, edited by prof. Peter W. Daniels (UoB-SERU) and prof. Ni Pengfei (CASS-IFTE), summarizes progress towards servicification and the rationale for undertaking more research that will deepen understanding of the actual and potential contribution of producer services. Some recent empirical evidence on the growth trends for producer service in selected cities, including the four case study cities of Shanghai, Huangshan, Chongqing and Kunming, is presented. It is shown that in majority of cities the manufacturing-services gap remains  a significant.

The UrbaChina working paper no.2 is now available on open access at the hal-FP7 UrbaChina paper collection.

Recommended citation: Daniels, P., & Ni, P. (2014). Urbanisation and changes in the sectoral structure of economic development: the scale of the manufacturing sector in Chinese cities and the shift towards service industry (UrbaChina working paper no.2. February 2014). Paris: CNRS. Retrieved from http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00943972

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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Poultry market

Poultry market, Elosua Miguel

Steaming a freshly slaughtered chicken to get the feathers out. Photo taken during a field trip to Chongqing in November 2013.

Live poultry markets have been shut down again this winter in many places in China as a new spate of  H7N9 human infections have been reported  (see last year’s article about this issue: http://urbachina.hypotheses.org/4492). Numerous experts have indicated that visiting live poultry markets may be the most likely source of infection. The Golden Triangle of the Yangtze, particularly Zhejiang province, and Guangdong province are the worst affected regions. Hong Kong has introduced stringent measures to keep the virus at bay, requiring mainland farms to operate under licence, and ordering the slaughtering and freezing of any available unsold poultry at the end of the day. Public concern might lead to a permanent closure of poultry markets. Experts advocate a change in people’s lifestyle, promoting buying frozen chicken instead of fresh.1 The most disturbing fact is that the drugs currently available seem to be ineffective. Therefore, the strategy is to deal with the virus at its source. The days of live poultry markets in China may well be numbered.

Poultry market 2, Elosua Miguel Live poultry market in Guanling county, Anshun city (Guizhou)  

  1. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1425639/expect-more-human-h7n9-bird-flu-cases-if-live-poultry-sales-continue. Last visited on 13 Feb 2014 []

Miguel Elosua

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

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Persuasion through negotiation

Persuasion through negotiation, Elosua Miguel

A building about to be demolished near the ancient town of Ciqikou (磁器口), in Chongqing. The local government plans to tear the whole neighbourhood down and rebuild it with new “old buildings” at its core. The new “old street” will become a commercial area and numerous apartment buildings will be built around it. The process of expropriation forces authorities to negotiate with the residents on a case-by-case basis. In this photo, some residents have already left apartments vacant, while others still remain in their homes wishing to better their compensation package. The gentrification of the neighbourhood is guaranteed since high prices will force most, if not all, former residents to move out of the community.

 

Miguel Elosua

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

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A favorite pastime

A favorite pastime, Elosua Miguel

Mahjong (majiang - 麻将) parlor in a building about to be demolished in Chongqing. November 2013. The mahjong game is a favourite pastime in China. It often becomes an addiction. It is in Chongqing and Sichuan that mahjong rooms are ubiquitous (in Chongqing, they are frequently referred to as teahouses or chaguan - 茶馆, although nowadays the rooms are often fully dedicated to majiang tables). Mahjong parlors are run like a casino: every player needs to pay an entrance fee in order to take a seat and start playing. Once they start playing they can easily stay for more than four hours at the mahjong table. Many don’t have a formal job and play mahjong to earn extra money. However, it’s not rare to hear about players losing more than 20 thousand yuan in just one day.

Miguel Elosua

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

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Urban history and urban development in China

Xue, Qian. 2013, March 8. Urban history : a knowledge base for urban development.
http://www.csstoday.net/ywpd/News/52897.html (accessed 9 July 2013).

 Starting from 2013, the Hangzhou Cultural and Historical Research Association will embark on a five year Wuhan Changjiang Bridge, 1957project investigating various aspects of the city’s history, including industrial development, urban construction, transportation development, etc. It is expected to provide knowledge and referential experience for current urban development.

Since the 1980s, China’s rapid urbanization has drawn more and more scholars toward the study of urban history; research on Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and Wuhan has achieved significant results.

Chinese urban history studies grow fast

According to incomplete statistics, during the period from 1979 to 2010, publications on Chinese urban history totaled more than 2,000 volumes.
Professor Li Changli at the Institute of Modern History at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,  said that in the past 20 or more years, the urban development in China has inspired many new topics and subfields among urban historian. Research in the area is blossoming. Particularly in recent years, publications of Chinese urban history have seen greater serialization, covered a broader range of issues and reached a more international audience.

Urban history is a branch of history.  It originated in the 1920s in the west and saw a revival in the 1960s; till 1980s, the subject had only gradually drawn attention from Chinese academia. He Yimin, vice president of the Chinese Urban History Association and director of the Institute of Urban Studies at Sichuan University, noted that China’s social development, urbanization, industrialization and modernization are the driving forces of Urban History Studies. Scholars often take major emerging cities such as Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and Wuhan as original research subjects; today, their research is developing quickly.

Read more on Social Sciences in China Press

 

Monique Abud

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

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Is China about to introduce a national carbon price?

Arup, Tom. (2013) Where there’s smoke there’s China. The Age World, 8 May (accessed 7 June 2013).

As a former top diplomat in Beijing, and after three decades of professional and personal engagement with the country, Professor Ross Garnaut is no stranger to China.

In January, the respected economist and former Labor climate policy tsar found himself in Beijing again, this time to open a workshop hosted in part by China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission.

Gathered were a group of international policy wonks, including many Australians and local government officials. They met to discuss options for what some in the public debate deny is happening – the introduction of a national carbon price in China.

In just over a month China will begin a massive experiment in emissions trading when the first of seven regional pilot schemes kicks off (and which one day may develop into a national scheme).

The stakes are high. China emits one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases. It is easily the world’s largest consumer of coal. In 2011 it released an estimated 9.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the US and India combined.

In his speech Garnaut painted a cautious, but encouraging, picture of where China stands on climate change.

Read more here

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Monique Abud

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

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La mauvaise réputation (A Bad Reputation)

La mauvaise reputation, Elosua Miguel

The Chinese government is determined to hold at bay the looming possibility of a new pandemic. The virus is believed to pass from birds to humans, but there is no evidence of its spread between humans. Infections have been detected mostly in the Golden Triangle of the Yangtze. Although the Chinese authorities have tried to reassure consumers that poultry and eggs are safe to eat if cooked properly, the poultry market has collapsed. Even in markets located far from the affected provinces, daily poultry sales have tumbled and suddenly it seems that people no longer want to eat this product. According to official data, China produced more than 18 million tonnes of poultry last year, accounting for over 20 per cent of its meat output. City residents consumed an average of 10.59kg of meat per person in 2011.1

No matter how healthy it might be, poultry has become an instant outcast. Many people may think this is a good thing, as it could lead to changes in the methods of raising poultry through intensive farming; it could, perhaps, put an end to a questionable industry created to satisfy the needs of a growing urbanised population. After all, who would like to spend a lifetime confined to a crowded indoor factory being fed growth hormones, unable to distinguish day from night? Who would choose a lifetime devoted to laying eggs in order to feed the insatiable appetites of urban dwellers? Other people might argue that unless you can leave the factory and see “reality”, as in Plato’s cave, you might not even consider your life to be worthless.

In any case, a rooster like the one in the photo, whose placid life rolls by in a small village, far away from the crowds, and whose bones will never leave the place where he lives, might well wonder what all the fuss is about. Ultimately, is in the so-called growout houses and live poultry markets where the virus seems to be in its element. However, the law applies to everyone and our little Chongqing friend’s days may be numbered. It may well be that, certain of his fate, at the break of dawn he will crow a song like that of the great Brassens:

« Au village, sans prétention,

J’ai mauvaise réputation.

Pas besoin d’être Jérémie,

Pour deviner le sort qui m’est promis:

S’ils trouvent une corde à leur goût,

Ils me la passeront au cou »

 

“In the village, without pretention,

I have a bad reputation.

No need to be Jeremiah

To guess the fate that awaits me:

If they find a rope to their liking,

They will put it around my neck.”

  1. SCMP, April 9, 2013: “China bird flu ‘devastates’ poultry business” http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1210652/china-bird-flu-devastates-poultry-business Retrieved on May 8th 2013, 4:17pm []

Miguel Elosua

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

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The last of a generation (or bangbangjun and urbanization)

Bangbangjun, Elosua Miguel

Built on mountains and crossed by the Yangtze and Jialing rivers, Chongqing is known as the “mountain city” (shancheng – 山城), and “bridge capital” (qiaodu – 桥都). Streets are often steep and arduous to walk along, with many stairs. This particular orography was a catalyst for the emergence of the bangbangjun (棒棒军), a legion of incredibly tough porters who are always ready to help Chongqingers carry their loads through the streets of the city. Equipped only with one-meter-long bamboo poles and thick nylon ropes, they can carry loads of more than 60 kilos, containing different items such as materials for construction, shopping bags, or luggage.

The presence of the bangbangjun in the city has been traced back to the time of the opening of the ports to commerce. Fluvial transport boomed and labour was needed to carry goods from the docks. However, it was during the 90s, when the urbanization process started to accelerate that their numbers peaked. Thousands of migrants flocked to the city looking for better job prospects. Some were farmers dispossessed of their land as a consequence of the expropriation frenzy, while others simply wanted to leave the farming life behind. Because of their lack of higher education or the fact that they were too old to be employed, many joined the porters because it was their only opportunity to earn a livelihood. At the time, farmers did not have access to social benefits such as the subsistence allowance (zuidi shenghuo baozhang, aka dibao – 低保) or old-age insurance (yanglao baoxian – 养老保险), which is indeed still rare in the countryside[1]. Some estimates have put the number of bangbangjun at more than 400 thousand at their apogee. They epitomize the mingong struggle for life and highlight the contrast between the two Chinas, urban and rural.

Bangbangjun2

The sight of the once ubiquitous porters is becoming rarer nowadays. In his quest to find ways to make life easier, man has created cars, department stores, parking lots and the like. Urbanization and a higher standard of living have brought all this to Chongqing. Nowadays, entire neighbourhoods have been razed, the city has expanded, and citizens can drive up to department stores and conveniently load the trunk of the car right at the doorstep of the shop. In addition, living standards in the countryside are improving. Social benefits are at last available for farmers, which is something to celebrate.

One may therefore assume that the bangbangjun will soon be gone for good. In the meantime, a visit to the city today will allow the visitor to witness the transition between two generations: the generation that has known hardship and planted trees, the one this horde of braves belongs to, and the generation that has known comfort sitting in the shade of those trees.


[1] The dibao is available almost nationwide now. The yanglao baoxian covered just 10% of the territory in 2009.

Miguel Elosua

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

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Electric mobility in China: a policy review

Tagscherer, Ulrike (2012). Electric mobility in China: a policy review. Fraunhofer ISI discussion papers innovation systems and policy analysis 30, 18 p.

In 2009, the annual car production in China was 13.8 million cars, a year-on-year increase of more than 48% (Sun 2010: 3). In 2010, automobile production reached 18,264,700 units, an increase of 32.4% compared with 2009. China’s share of the global market for car sales amounts to 20%, up from 13% (Sun 2010: 4). China became the biggest car market in the world in 2010 (China Association of Automobile Manufacturers CAAM 2011). Considering the car ownership per capita, there is still a huge development potential for the Chinese car market. And it is exactly this huge development potential which makes analysts believe that China will become the largest market for electric vehicles in the future.
This belief is shared by the Chinese government, and the government has implemented or drafted several different policies and rules to support and speed up the development of electric vehicles. At the highest policy-making level, the Chinese government adopted the development of electric vehicles in its highest priority national plan, the 12thFive-Year Plan (12 FYP 2011-2015). At the same time, the electric vehicle industry has been selected as one of the seven strategic emerging industries by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). This again has also been manifested in the 12 FYP. The overall goals foresee a rapid development of electrification of cars in China and by 2015 the number of electric cars on Chinese streets should reach 1 million.
The following analysis will take a deeper look into the different policies that are behind these developments in order to increase the understanding of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Hence, contributing to an evaluation of the current development in this field is one of the major goals of this working paper.
As in all other countries, there is no single policy dedicated to electric mobility in China today. Yet there are many different policies from different ministries and agencies with different main targets which influence the development of e-mobility or electric vehicles to a certain degree. The following review looks especially at the impact of these different national policies on the development of electric vehicles and tries to analyze the relations between these policies as far as this is possible from an outsider’s perspective.
The current strategy of the Chinese government concerning the development of electric vehicles is supported mainly by three major policy fields: support for R&D, support for the related industry, and support for private and public consumption. The majority of the policies are in fact industrial policies and they have been adopted by the highest levels of government.

 

Monique Abud

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

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Chongqing: beyond the latecomer advantage

The spectacular growth of Chinese cities since the 1980s is often theorised as reflecting the advantages of latecomer development (ALD). ALD has been more effective in cosmopolitan, globally accessible coastal cities than outer cities. As leading cities, like Shanghai, close the development gap, the potential for ‘easy’ ALD growth falls off rapidly. Because institution building is more difficult than firm-based growth, ALD strategies may generate rapid short-term economic growth but not sustainable development. Accordingly, Chongqing municipality, with a population of 33 million, in West China, is pursuing a beyond latecomer advantage model. This is characterised by: (1) reducing poverty and rural-urban disparity through accelerated urbanisation, rural-urban integration and emphasising human resource development; (2) upgrading the value added of Chongqing’s economy through targeting of FDI and incentives to local start-ups; (3) endogenous development, reducing risks from external shocks; (4) Hukou reform; (5) establishing a land use conversion certificate market to rationalise land use; (6) emphasis on morality to address crime/corruption; (7) recognition of the importance of amenity in attracting investment and talent; and (8) establishing a longer developmental time perspective. This paper explores this Chongqing model in detail.

Cai 蔡建明, J., Yang 杨振山, Z., Webster, D., Song 宋涛, T. and Gulbrandson, A., “Chongqing : beyond the latecomer advantage = 重庆 :超越后发优势”. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 2012, 53, p. 38–55. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8373.2012.01474.x

Full text available at : Wiley online library

Part of  special issue of Asia Pacific Viewpoint (2012, vol. 53) : “China’s changing regional development : trends, strategies and challenges in the 12th five-year plan (2011-2015) period“. Guest editor: Peter T.Y. Cheung.

Monique Abud

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

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