Category Archives: Kunming

Development and evaluation of a food environment survey in three urban environments of Kunming

soupecanardJenna Hua, Edmund Seto, Yan Li and May C Wang, (2014) Development and canardsetlegumesevaluation of a food environment survey in three urban environments of Kunming, China, BMC Public Health 2014, 14:235  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-235


Given the rapid pace of urbanization and Westernization and the increasing prevalence of obesity, there is a need for research to better understand the influence of the built environment on overweight and obesity in world’s developing regions. Culturally-specific food environment survey instruments are important tools for studying changing food availability and pricing. Here, we present findings from an effort to develop and evaluate food environment survey instruments for use in a rapidly developing city in southwest China.

We developed two survey instruments (for stores and restaurants), each designed to be completed within 10 minutes. Two pairs of researchers surveyed a pre-selected 1-km stretch of street in each of three socio-demographically different neighborhoods to assess inter-rater reliability. Construct validity was assessed by comparing the food environments of the neighborhoods to cross-sectional height and weight data obtained on 575 adolescents in the corresponding regions of the city.

273 food establishments (163 restaurants and 110 stores) were surveyed. Sit-down, take-out, and fast food restaurants accounted for 40%, 21% and 19% of all restaurants surveyed. Tobacco and alcohol shops, convenience stores and supermarkets accounted for 25%, 12% and 11%, respectively, of all stores surveyed. We found a high percentage of agreement between teams (>75%) for all categorical variables with moderate kappa scores (0.4-0.6), and no statistically significant differences between teams for any of the continuous variables. More developed inner city neighborhoods had a higher number of fast food restaurants and convenience stores than surrounding neighborhoods. Adolescents who lived in the more developed inner neighborhoods also had a higher percentage of overweight, indicating well-founded construct validity. Depending on the cutoff used, 19% to 36% of male and 10% to 22% of female 16-year old adolescents were found to be overweight.

The prevalence of overweight Chinese adolescents, and the food environments they are exposed to, deserve immediate attention. To our knowledge, these are the first food environment surveys developed specifically to assess changing food availability, accessibility, and pricing in China. These instruments may be useful in future systematic longitudinal assessments of the changing food environment and its health impact in China.

Read the full text on Biodmed central

Photo credit: J. Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard

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

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Urbachina’s WP5 workshop at LSE


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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昆明 Kunming by JiKang Lee

This photo of Kunming, much like Schoenmakers’ two weeks ago, highlights the juxtaposition of traditional and recent architecture that appears so frequently in China’s urban landscape. In the foreground we can see the rooftops around of the historical and cultural centre, which according to the photographer, had been recently renovated. He also explains:

Growing up in Kunming, I felt that it was fast developing city. The pleasant climate makes it a place businessmen want to invest and live in, and it is the rest stop for travelers visiting the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.

JiKang Lee is a freelance photographer based in Kunming. You can see more of his work on Fotokon’s blog and his Flickr.

Aurélia Martin

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

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Organizing conservation and development in China

Zinda, J. A. (2013). Organizing conservation and development in china: Politics, institutions, biodiversity, and livelihoods. (Order No. 3591054, The University of Wisconsin – Madison). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 335. Retrieved from (1433306129). Preview (format PDF)

Tourism is an increasingly central element of biodiversity conservation, transforming protected areas worldwide. Building on participant observation and interviews with a broad array of participants, extensive document analysis, and a household survey, this dissertation investigates the creation of national parks in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan and what it reveals about how actors contend to get their visions for tourism and conservation incorporated in protected area institutions as well as how those institutions influence conservation practices and rural livelihoods.

In the first half, I show how contention among state agencies with varied connections to extra-state actors has shaped Yunnan’s national parks. The Nature Conservancy’s limited ability to appeal to state bodies with leverage over protected areas constrained its effort to promote a new conservation model. Local governments have shifted from supporting community-centered tourism to consolidating high-volume attractions under state-affiliated companies. A case comparison of nine protected areas shows that local authorities channel the substantial revenues tourism yields toward funding government activities and maintaining scenic façades for tourists rather than intensive biodiversity conservation. Where strong conservation practices are adopted, it is due to intervention under central government priorities.

In the second half, I examine how national park institutions affect community residents. In Meili Snow Mountain National Park, community-centered tourism operations persist, while in Pudacuo National Park, residents have become park employees. Residents of each park express concerns about different issues, but they voice these concerns in similar terms, invoking moral economies of appropriate state action. I use household survey data and qualitative observations to examine the impacts of different forms of tourism participation on livelihoods and community dynamics. Different tourism activities’ demands for labor and inputs have stronger impacts than income on resource use. Not all community-based tourism is equal: income inequality is higher and cooperation less common where household entrepreneurship predominates, compared to communities where institutions equalize participation, whether under community management or as park employees. The consolidation of protected area tourism attractions brings challenges as park authorities attempt to manage residents, while its economic and environmental impacts have complex relationships with local economies and ecologies.

Jacqueline Nivard

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

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Senior residents living in hostiles cities?

An old man practising calligraphy in Haikou, Goulard SébastienIn October 2013, a Hong Kong student, Qin Nan, defended a thesis entitled “Fear of crime experienced by older Chinese in urban China”1.

China has changed radically over the past 20 years, and some elderly Chinese may now feel lost in the new Chinese cities. These changes are both material and social. Many cities and neighbourhoods have been redeveloped. Senior residents may not recognise the city where they spent their entire lives. Chinese society has also evolved. People in their sixties or older have seen the end of a collective system and the adoption of individualistic values. The iron rice bowl has been broken. The eldest of these experienced the Cultural Revolution. They have suffered from hunger and other privations, and are now surrounded by commercial advertisements and live in cities where restaurants are everywhere2.

Chinese seniors also tend to live alone: their opportunities for social interaction are dwindling. Because of urban redevelopment, relocation and the end of danwei, many have lost contact with their former neighbours. Family ties, although still quite strong, are weakening/being undermined. Younger generations may have to move to other provinces for job opportunities.

Because of this evolution, seniors have lost some of their bearings. And so, they may feel vulnerable in this modern urban environment.

As noted by the thesis’ author, several studies conducted in Western countries show that seniors are more likely to feel threatened in an urban environment than younger people.

Qin Nan’s thesis explores the way this phenomenon occurs in China, based on the case of communities in Kunming.

According to her results, Chinese seniors’ fear of crime depends on several factors. Some (for example, female gender) also apply to Western countries, but others are unique to China. Thus, the author argues that perceived fear of crime is weaker in the case of seniors who adhere to Chinese traditional values of “harmony”.

As noted by the author, the Chinese population is getting older, and issues related to this ageing population will undoubtedly become apparent. In order to reduce the anxiety of senior residents, Qin Nan formulates several recommendations to China’s government. Firstly, assistance to seniors must be reinforced and social welfare policies need to be harmonised among Chinese provinces. The author points out the role of media and rumours in inflaming fear of crime and advises authorities to better communicate on crime incidence.

Another point regards education. According to the author, China’s “culture of harmony” needs to be promoted to the population in order to prevent fear of crime, and more specifically designed-for-seniors campaigns should be launched.

This thesis shows us how important it is to preserve certain cultural values that empower the weakest categories of the population.


  1. Qin, Nan (2013). Fear of crime experiences by older Chinese in urban China. Ph.D. thesis, University of Hong Kong. Retrieved 24 February, 2014, from []
  2. see Lu Wenfu (陆文夫)’s excellent novel “The gourmet (mei shi jia, 美食家)” []

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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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

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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Shopping in an urban village

Electrical equipment shop in an urban village, Elosua Miguel

An electrical equipment shop in an urban village in Kunming, Yunnan. Urban villages are informal settlements that have proliferated in many Chinese cities (for other articles on urban villages click here: Although usually described by officials as dirty and insalubrious, urban villages are not slums, or at least not the ones the writer of this article has visited. However, it’s difficult to define these informal settlements as homogeneous living communities for their location and construction vary considerably. In many cases, original villagers construct five to six stories buildings (it seems it is the maximum height recommended to avoid having to install an elevator) with a few facilities. Sometimes, the urban village preserves its original layout, thus keeping some resemblance to a rural settlement in the midst of urban structures.

Urban villages are often lively neighbourhoods, with a buoyant service trade for residents and outsiders lured by the affordable prices. They can play an important role in helping migrants integrate into urban life. Some Chinese scholars (see for example Wu Fulong) advocate protecting these villages and supporting the informal market. It is interesting to note that the original villagers (farmers transformed into landlords) turn the double property system to their advantage and make good profits renting out rooms and retail space. (This is not the case of this shop, which is still run by the original resident.) The paradox here is that had farmers the right to sell their homesteads (which they do not), they could exploit the inherent value of land and profit from it. As a consequence, the urban village would probably be dismantled, making way for new residential or commercial developments, and its residents, migrant workers for the most part, would be forced to look for affordable housing in places far away from the city centre.

Urban village 4 (chengzhongcun - 城中村), Elosua Miguel

Therefore, until governments make urban social housing policies for migrant workers more flexible, it seems desirable to preserve urban villages and acknowledge their role in providing affordable housing in a somewhat integrative community. The government could introduce regulations regarding safety and hygiene issues to guarantee an acceptable standard of living, as well as levying business taxes on rental activities that could then be returned to the village in the form of basic services.


Miguel Elosua

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

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Kunming “3015 Action Plan”


Kunming “3015 Action Plan” launched in March 2015. The number “3015”indicates that the Chinese government is going to reconstruct ten zones ( Pan-Asia Technology New Area at Wuhua District 王家桥泛亚科技新区, Eco-tourism Demonstration Area 世博生态旅游示范区, and eight other zones), ten urban planning projects (Reconstruction Project of Santaishan at Chenggong District 呈贡三台山旧城改造项目, plus nine others) and ten Infrastructure projects (Dian Lake Navigation Construction Project  滇池航运建设工程, highway and freeway construction projects, and others). There are in total thirty projects to be finished by 2015.

The list of the entire plan can be found at the following website.

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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A tour of Chenggong, Kunming’s new city

On May 2013, Kunming municipal government moved its headquarters from downtown Kunming to brand new facilities in Chenggong, a new city in the making at about 20 kilometers south of the old city. Chenggong is expected to become the administrative and employment center of the Greater Kunming region, a vast territory of more than 20,000 km2 with about 6.5 million residents. The new town was planned for a population of 1.5 million and construction started in 2003.

Chenggong: the new Kunming municipal government center in Yunnan, Balula Luis
Chenggong: the new Kunming municipal government center, Balula Luis

Chenggong: the new Kunming municipal government center

 Since 2010, however, Chenggong new town has been making headlines on the news and internet blogs, which have described it as “one of the largest ghost towns in Asia”. Meanwhile, in 2010, Kunming officials decided to revise the city’s master plan in order to incorporate sustainable urban design principles on further development. The new master plan1 departed from the original layout of large ‘superblocks’ surrounded by multi-lane arteries, in an attempt to break down the superblocks into smaller blocks and narrower human-scale streets, with a hierarchy of densities and mixed-uses related to the ease of access to the public transportation system. By controlling urban form Chinese authorities expect to achieve a more sustainable, low-carbon urban environment in Chenggong.


Chenggong master plan (partial view)

 Approaching Chenggong on the Kunming-Chenggong expressway, Balula Luis

Approaching Chenggong on the Kunming-Chenggong expressway

 A visit to Chenggong in early June 2013 allowed for a brief assessment of the progress made so far in the new city. At the time of the visit the urban structure, as seen on the master plan, was still not obvious on the ground. Chenggong’s vast territory was still, apparently, a piecemeal development of separate urban hubs in diverse stages of completion, interconnected by highways, with no visible street hierarchy, and a grid of wide roads and large blocks.

 Chenggong: one of the new urban hubs, Yunnan, Balula Luis

Chenggong: one of the new urban hubs, as seen from the site of the new YunnanUniversity campus

 The subway/light rail system which is supposed to link all the hubs, however, was under fast construction and the first section of the line, connecting downtown Kunming to the first station in Chenggong, had just opened.

 A recently built light-rail line connecting downtown Kunming to Chenggong, Balula Luis

A recently built light-rail line connects downtown Kunming to Chenggong

 Whereas the “ghostly” character of the place was still quite evident, mostly on very recent urban areas, or on the many new parts still in construction, some other areas showed already encouraging signs of human presence (traffic and movement of people), as well as some incipient commerce on a few crossroads. Most importantly, in several completed buildings, many residential units were visibly occupied.
Typical streets and blocks of Chenggong, Yunnan, Balula Luis
Typical streets and blocks in Chenggong, Balula Luis

Chenggong: typical streets and blocks

 A larger influx of residents is expected soon due to a series of factors, such as the relocation of Kunming municipal government; the proximity of the new Yunnan University campus; the completion of the subway/light rail system; and last, but not least, lower apartment prices, as compared with central Kunming.

Typical street in Chenggong, Balula Luis

Chenggong: typical streets and blocks, Balula, Luis

Chenggong: typical streets and blocks

Whilst most new urban areas are high-density blocks, with stand-alone high-rise apartment towers (up to 40 stories) there are also whole blocks of mid-rise buildings (5-6 stories), which may reflect a variation of land-use densities along a future transportation corridor. In all arteries, growing trees and greenery attempt to attenuate the considerable width of streets.

Road landscaping in Chenggong, Kunming, Balula Luis

Chenggong: street and road landscaping is a visible concern everywhere

 As for the city’s urban design, however, the major problems seem to remain unaltered: superblocks are still the norm in Chenggong; the hard infrastructure of multi-lane roadways is prevalent; and the almost complete absence of stores suggests that most shopping must necessarily be done at the shopping mall, in another part of town. The wide streets and superblocks of Chenggong continue conveying the image of a car-oriented urban environment waiting to be populated by cars.Chenggong: an urban hub near completion, Balula Luis

Chenggong: another urban hub near completion

 It is still too early to evaluate the success of the new master plan, but Chenggong’s future, in terms of low-carbon sustainable urban form, will definitely depend on the capacity to find the right fit between urban design, density, land use and transportation decisions both at the local, neighborhood scale and at the regional scale of greater Kunming.

Chenggong, typical street, Balula Luis

Chenggong: one definitely needs a car to move around



  1. Plan of the month December 2010: low carbon urban design for China (2010), Better cities & towns, accessed July 27, 2013 []

Luis Balula

Ph.D. Urban Planning and Public Policy (Rutgers University, New Jersey); M.Sc. Urban Affairs (Boston University); Architect (Technical University of Lisbon). Urban and regional planning consultant. Research fellow at Instituto de Ciencias Sociais – Universidade de Lisboa.

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Urban Village

Urban Village (chengzhongcun - 城中村), Elosua Miguel


Urban villages have proliferated in almost every Chinese city as consequence of the urban sprawl commanded by local governments, sometimes with the purpose of financing their budgets. They expose the imperfections of the double property system, where the government has a monopoly of the primary land market. The term “urban village” (chengzhongcun – 城中村)refers to the situation where the city ends up encircling the village. Most of the farmland has been expropriated and urbanized, and only the villagers’ original homesteads remain. Soaring real estate prices in the surrounding city reduce the possibility of an eventual expropriation and redevelopment of the area.

Urban Village 2 (chengzhongcun - 城中村), Elosua Miguel

In the meantime, the original residents make a good profit from renting rooms, mostly to migrant workers who have restricted access to urban formal housing, due to the high prices, and the lack of stable jobs and tax returns. Housing conditions are precarious and villagers are not keen to invest much money, hoping for an eventual expropriation. Buildings like the one in these photos date from the 1950s.  They are made of mud bricks and have dirt floors, water leakages are frequent, and some lack running water. The average rent is around 50€ for a 15 square meter room. Migrant workers adrift on the fringes of citizenship.


Urban Village 3 (chengzhongcun - 城中村), Elosua Miguel

Miguel Elosua

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

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Kunming confronted to the issue of recycled cooking oil

Luo, Chris. “Kunming struggling to deal with ‘gutter oil’”. South China Morning Post. 27 June 2013. [Accessed 27 June 2013]

Kunming, the capital city of China’s Yunnan province, is having problems dealing with recycled cooking oil – often derisively referred to as “gutter oil”. City municipal officials told the Chinese media that the problems with “gutter oil” have existed for centuries.

His comments attracted widespread condemnation from internet users. Some accused city authorities of shirking their responsibilities over the issue.

The use of illegal cooking oil – recycled from waste oil – is rampant in China. And because waste oil contains harmful carcinogens and other pollutants, mainland authorities have been determined to crack down on it for years.

Kunming has a national pilot scheme which converts recycled cooking oil into bio-fuels for vehicles. But the scheme is not working very well, the media also reports […] Read more

Continue reading

Monique Abud

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

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Everyday approaches to food safety in Kunming

Jakob A. Klein (2013). Everyday approaches to food safety in Kunming. The China Quarterly, 214, pp 376-393. DOI: [Access restricted]

The article explores how people in Kunming have interpreted and acted upon food-related environmental health threats, particularly within the contexts of everyday food shopping. It is argued that an increasingly intensified, delocalized food supply system and a state-led emphasis on individual responsibility and choice have produced growing uncertainties about food. However, the article takes issue with the claim that new forms of risk and institutional changes have produced “individualized” responses, arguing that many of the practices Kunmingers have developed to handle food-related risks and their understandings of what constitutes “safe” food have been developed within the frameworks of family ties and regional cuisine. Further, shoppers and purveyors of food have forged new ties of trust and re-emphasized connections between people, food and place. Nevertheless, concerns about the food supply are a source of discontent which is feeding into wider ambivalences towards modernization. This is particularly acute among the economically disadvantaged.

  • Special section: “Dying for development”, The China Quarterly, vol. 214, June 2013. Table of contents (some articles are in free access)
  • Jacob A. Klein


Monique Abud

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

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New university cities

Yunnan University New Campus, Elosua Miguel

Chenggong University City is situated in Chenggong district, Luoyang town (chenggong qu luoyang zhen – 呈贡区洛羊镇), 24 kilometres from the city proper. It covers an area of 43 square kilometres, almost half the size of Kunming in 2007, which gives an idea of the significance of the project. The plan was approved in 2003 as part of the development of the new East of Kunming city. Ideally, it will attract not only students from Yunnan province, as well as other provinces in China, but also students from abroad, notably from South Asia. Once the project is finished, the new University City will have the capacity to host more than 150 thousand students. The total investment for the project is estimated at 10 billion RMB (1.6 billion USD). Construction work lasted six years, from 2004 to 2010. Seven universities have already moved to the new campus town.

University towns have been proliferating all over the country since the turn of the new century. They are part of a central government plan, launched in 2000, which calls for 50 new university towns to be built in city suburbs. The reasons for this initiative may seem obvious: along with the dramatic increase in the number of students pursuing higher studies, land prices within city centres have soared. This makes it difficult for universities to expand their facilities and capacities. At the same time, selling off old campuses brings sizable capital gains that allow for the acquisition of large terrains in the outskirts of urbanizing cities. (Sometimes it is the government who expropriates the old campus, and the academic institution gets land in the new campus town as a part of the compensation). There is intense competition between universities to attract students, and the curricula have expanded dramatically. Almost every university now offers a degree in business management (including the lucrative MBA). Consequently, capacity has become paramount.

Some of the universities that have moved into new campus cities, such as Yunnan University, are included in Project 211 (the name stands for 21st century, top 100 universities). The aim of the project is to promote the development and reputation of the Chinese higher education system. Both national and local governments are involved, allocating large amounts of funding to different purposes, such as updating installations. There is also the more selective Project 985, which originally included only nine universities (the so-called C9 League), but was enlarged later to thirty-nine, none of them in Yunnan province.

In order to finance its ambitious new campus, Yunnan University has also sold most of the old campuses that were located in downtown Kunming. The only campus that remains is protected as a heritage site. The university was founded in 1923, and was the oldest in West China. It sits in an unmatched location facing Green Lake Park (cuihu gongyuan – 翠湖公园), and is surrounded by venerable ginkgo trees and teeming flora.

Yunnan University

The new University City has been built on arable land, something that some locals frown upon since, allegedly, the project was to include the use of a large area of wasteland.1 Considering the size of the area that is now occupied by the new campuses, it is easy to imagine the enormous expropriation procedures that have been carried out. (Before the University City was built, the area was occupied by five villages). The central government enhanced the plan to build university towns with a number of favourable policies that would help to overcome hurdles such as expropriation procedures or financing. Expropriated farmers remain the biggest issue to be dealt with. Once farmers are dispossessed of their land, they lose their livelihood. The compensation may allow them to buy a new house, but it won’t provide them with a new job. The lack of higher education is a major impediment. A number of training programs are usually implemented to facilitate job reinsertion for farmers (as guardians or gardeners in many cases). According to a survey carried out in 2011, 2) young farmers were optimistic about the construction of the campus city and were willing to join training programs. However, the older ones found it difficult to join these programs and expressed concern about their future. The provision of old age protection schemes would solve this problem, but only partly. When farmers no longer have their land, the dignity of having an occupation is difficult to make up for.

The local government has financed the new University City’s urbanisation work. A number of buses and a new subway line connect the new university town with Kunming.   A large area of the expropriated land will eventually be used to build commercial and residential spaces.  Currently, a number of local vendors, perhaps former farmers, have set up informal stalls to cater to the University City’s new residents.  This is a significant niche market, as the area still lacks many services to satisfy the needs of its new inhabitants.  (The above-mentioned study proposes the implementation of soft financing policies for former farmers willing to become entrepreneurs.)  The name of the new town very precisely describes who these new residents are, at least for the moment: university students.  Streets are almost empty, which is a common feature in many new cities that are urbanised before the need arises. As one Chinese scholar pointed out, “there is more urbanised land than people in China.”  In the case of the new university towns, students seem to have been sent out like advanced parties to settle new territory, even before a number of basic services have been provided for.  Perhaps this is the best way: after all, with classes to attend and individual studying to do, students hardly have time to venture outside the campus in any case.


  1. chenggong daxue cheng – 呈贡大学城 Last retrieved on April 18, 2013. []
  2. miao mingming, zhouyunlong, “daxue cheng” jianshe dui zhoubian nongmin yingxiang diaocha——yi kunming chenggong “daxue cheng” weili – 缪明明, 周云龙, “大学城”建设对周边农民影响调查——以昆明呈贡”大学城”为例. Industrial & Science Tribune, 2011, 10 (1 []

Miguel Elosua

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

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China – South Asia Expo

China South Asia Expo

The first China – South Asia Expo (an upgrade of the previous South Asian Countries Trade Fair, which was held each year during the past five years) has just taken place in Kunming. The objective of the expo is to promote cooperation and development between China and South Asian countries. The election of Kunming as the venue for the event reinforces its strategic role as the gateway not only to Southeast Asia but also to South Asia as a whole, including India.

It was not by coincidence that the focus of the expo was on India, after Premier Li Keqiang’s recent visit to the country in May, his first overseas visit since taking office in March. In his meeting with India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, both leaders discussed the “Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation” also known as the BCIM trade corridor. Kunming had already been the venue of the Forum for its first meeting in 1999.

The BCIM economic corridor includes Yunnan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and states in Northeastern India, covering 1.65 million square kilometres, with a population of nearly 440 million people. Nevertheless, progress has been lacklustre since the inception of the corridor. Myanmar’s political situation, as well as the border dispute between India and China (the last standoff happened just a few days before the official visit), have hindered its development. As professor Bi Shihong from Yunnan University pointed out in a recent editorial,1 “it’s inevitable for India to open its northeast part, the border region that is politically sensitive. Cross-border trade could not only improve people’s standards of living, but also promote the construction of transportation infrastructure.”

The new China – South Asia expo could be a turning point in the implementation of the trade corridor, once political progress has taken place in Myanmar, and Sino-Indo relations enter into a new phase.

  1. Bi Shihong (2013), Trade corridor helps rejuvenate Asia. Global Times, 3 June []

Miguel Elosua

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

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