He, Shenjing (2014). Consuming urban living in ‘villages in the city’: Studentification in Guangzhou, China. Urban Studies. Published online before print August 1, 2014. DOI: 10.1177/0042098014543703
Against the backdrop of higher education expansion, studentification refers to a particular type of urban sociospatial restructuring resulting from university students’ concentration in certain residential areas. Over the last decade, studentification has evolved into different forms and has spread to different locales. This study aims to provide a contextualised understanding of this distinct phenomenon in China so as to decode the complex dynamics of urban sociospatial transformation in the Chinese city. In this paper, I present a line of empirical evidence based on fieldwork in Xiadu Village and Nanting Village, two studentified villages close to university campuses in Guangzhou. These two villages exemplify different consumption and spatial outcomes of studentifcation, owing to different institutional arrangements, types of studentifiers and roles of villagers. Yet, in both villages, studentification has profoundly transformed the economic, physical, social and cultural landscapes. Notably, rather than the spatialisation of compromised and marginalised residential choices by higher education students, studentification in China is better interpreted as the spatial result of students’ conscious residential, entrepreneurial and consumption choices to escape from the rigid control of university dorms, to accumulate cultural and economic capital, as well as to actualise their cultural identity. In the Chinese context, studentification provides a useful prism to understand a unique trajectory of urbanisation: re-urbanising the ‘villages in the city’ through bringing in urban living/urban consumptions. In the long run, studentification could provide a potential solution to sustain and upgrade the villages in the city.
Anna L. Ahlers and Gunter Schubert (2013). Strategic Modelling: “Building a New Socialist Countryside” in Three Chinese Counties . The China Quarterly, 216, pp 831-849. doi:10.1017/S0305741013001045.
Models, pilots and experiments are considered distinctive features of the Chinese policy process. However, empirical studies on local modelling practices are rare. This article analyses the ways in which three rural counties in three different provinces engage in strategies of modelling and piloting to implement the central government’s “Building a New Socialist Countryside” (shehuizhuyi xinnongcun jianshe) programme. It explains how county and township governments apply these strategies and to what effect. It also highlights the scope and limitations of local models and pilots as useful mechanisms for spurring national development. The authors plead for a fresh look at local modelling practices, arguing that these can tell us much about the realities of governance in rural China today.
More information at The China Quarterly: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0305741013001045
Wen, Guangzhong James and Xiong, Jinwu (2014). The hukou and land tenure systems as two middle income traps : the case of modern China. Author’s post-print. Final version published in Frontiers of Economics in China 2014, 9(3): 438-459. DOI: 10.3868/s060-003-014-0021-1.
China’s prevailing hukou (household registration) system and land tenure system seem to be very different in their applications. In fact, they both function to deny the exit right of rural residents from a rural community. Under these systems, rural residents are not allowed to freely exit from collectives if they do not want to lose their entitlements, such as their rights to using collectively owned land and their land-based properties. Farmers are neither allowed to sell their houses to outsiders, nor allowed to sell to outsiders their rights to contracting a piece of land from the collective where their households are registered. For migrant workers from rural areas, it is extremely difficult for them to obtain an urban hukou with all its associated entitlements at an urban locality where they currently work and live. The combined effect of the two systems leads to serious distortions in labor and land markets, resulting in discrimination against migrant workers, sprawling yet exclusive urbanization, housing bubbles, and depressed domestic demand. These distortions further entrench the existing and much widened urban/rural divide. Unless these two systems are thoroughly reformed, the rural residents in Chinese mainland will be trapped in their comparatively much lower income and remain unable to share the gains from the agglomeration effects of urbanization.
Wen, Guangzhong James and Xiong, Jinwu (2013). Which type of urbanization better matches China’s factor endowment: a comparison of population-intensive Old Puxi and land-capital-intensive New Pudong. Frontiers of Economics in China, 2013, 8(4): 516-534.
Full text available at publisher’s website.
Chai, Yanwei (2014). From socialist danwei to new danwei: a daily-life-based framework for sustainable development in urban China. Asian Geographer. Published online: 1 August 2014. DOI: 10.1080/10225706.2014.942948
The danwei (or work unit) compound was the basic spatial and social unit of urban China in the pre-reform period, and its transformation has been an important part of the larger transitions that have remade urban China during the reform era. This paper investigates spatial and social changes in urban China over three stages; namely, the formation of the socialist danwei system, the decline of the socialist danwei and the formation of a new kind of danwei. I argue that the socialist danwei included positive elements like mixed land use, job-housing balance and social equality, while the decline of the socialist danwei system has resulted in many negative outcomes such as spatial mismatch and social segregation. In proposing a framework for new danwei, I suggest that urban life should be structured around residents’ daily activity spaces based on their daily-life-circle systems. The concept of the new danwei offers a practical solution through combining a human-focused approach with consideration of China’s contemporary economic and social reality. The paper concludes with a discussion on possible avenues for future research.
Tang, Beibei (2014). The Discursive Turn: deliberative governance in China’s urbanized villages. Journal of Contemporary China, Prepublished June, 24, 2014. DOI:10.1080/10670564.2014.918414
This article examines local governance and citizen participation in China through unstructured public deliberation. Case studies from two urbanized villages show that unstructured, informal public deliberation potentially leads to more autonomy and diverse channels for pursuing citizens’ appeals at the local level, along with increased consideration given by local government to grassroots requests relating to practical governance matters. Although taking place outside formal political institutions, unstructured public deliberation can exert influences on policy or decision-making inside government organizations through well-coordinated transmission mechanisms between the public and the local government. During this process, well-resourced community organizations and actors play a vital role through their bridging functions to produce dynamic relations of deliberative governance. This bridging role serves to deliver deliberative outcomes from the public sphere to the decision-making authorities, and it also includes the collection of feedback on policy as well as the means to negotiate for policy adjustment by facilitating a policy implementation process.
Since the 1990s, the population of Beijing has decentralized. This paper studies the relationship between residents’ commuting tools and their residential location during suburbanization by applying field survey data, statistical methods, and Geographic Information System techniques. The results show that public transportation is the most common choice for commuting. Residents commute the shortest distance do so by walking/bicycling and residents commute the longest distance do so by taking bus/subway. The likelihood of using bus/subway increases as the distance becomes longer; the likelihood of commuting by car/taxi has a very weak correlation with commuting distance. The results imply a public transportation-oriented suburbanization model in Beijing. By further mapping the subway lines and the geographic distribution of newly built houses from 2008 to 2012, it is discovered that public transit especially the subway plays a significant role in residential relocation in Beijing. This could explain the city sprawl in suburbanization in China.
Shi, Fayong (2014). Improving local governance without challenging the State: the middle-class protest in urban China. China: An International Journal, 12 (1), pp. 153-162.
The first decade of the new century had seen an increase in rights-protection protests in urban China. The main participants of these protests were local middle-class residents who initiated protests to raise issues on specific economic and social problems as opposed to abstract sociopolitical issues. They have started to claim rights which were granted to citizens by law in principle but never actually delivered. The sociopolitical changes facilitate the emergence and success of middle-class protests, which in turn have contributed to the improvement of local governance and positively reshaped local politics. However, their influence on the macro political structure of China remains to be seen.
Li, Yu (2014). Low carbon eco-city: new approach for Chinese urbanisation. Habitat International, 44 (October), p. 102–110. Pre-published June, 6, 2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.habitatint.2014.05.004
Chinese urbanisation is occurring rapidly but faces great challenges due to its large population, the continuing level of rural–urban migration, the shortage of resources to support the present development and the urbanisation model. One result is that China is the world’s largest carbon emitter. The application of low carbon eco-city development should be contribute to the solution in addressing these challenges. This paper attempts to explore the low carbon eco-city initiatives in China. By analysing critically the problems which impact upon such an environmentally friendly development model, including government policy, social value and delivery mechanisms, this paper suggests that despite problems in implementing such a model, the low carbon eco-city model must be the mainstream approach to Chinese urbanisation and industrialisation.
Deng, Quheng and Bjorn Gustafsson (2014). The hukou converters : China’s lesser known rural to urban migrants. Journal of Contemporary China, 23 (88), 657-679. DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2013.861147.
This article studies people born in rural China who now live in urban areas of China and possess a residence permit, an urban hukou; these are the hukou converters and they are examined using large datasets covering substantial parts of China in 2002. According to our estimates, there are 107 million hukou converters constituting 20% of the registered population of China’s urban areas. Presence of a high employment rate in the city, that the city is small or medium-sized, and that the city is located in the middle or western part of China are factors which cause the ratio of hukou converters in the registered city population to be comparatively high. The probability of becoming a hukou converter is strongly linked to having parents with relatively high human and social capital and belonging to the ethnic majority. Compared to their rural-born peers left behind, as well as to migrants who have kept their rural hukou, the hukou converters have much higher per capita household incomes. Years of schooling and CPC membership contribute to this difference but most of the difference remains unexplained in a statistical sense, signalling large incentives to urbanise as well as to receive an urban hukou. While living a very different life from their peers left behind, the economic circumstances of China’s hukou converters at the destination are, on average, similar to the urban-born population. Hukou converters who receive an urban hukou before age 25 do well in the labour market and we have reported indications that they actually overtake urban-born peers regarding earnings. In contrast, hukou migrants who receive an urban hukou after age 25 do not catch up with their urban-born counterparts in terms of earnings.
Dong, Lisheng (2014). Chinese perceptions of the European Union. Journal of Contemporary China, 23 (88), 756-779. DOI:10.1080/10670564.2013.861172
This article uses survey data collected in 2010 and conducts a systematic comparative analysis of the perceptions of the EU by the Chinese general public and the elite. Most ordinary Chinese citizens do not understand the EU very well, but their impressions of the EU are very positive and they also hold good expectations for the future of China–EU relations. The Chinese elites and ordinary citizens differ significantly in terms of ‘favoring the EU’ or ‘favoring Russia’. The multivariate model indicates that EU travel experience, annual income level and Internet dependence have significant positive effects on ‘favoring-EU’ feelings. Those who have EU travel experience, higher levels of annual income and greater opportunities to obtain information via the Internet are more likely to be ‘favoring-EU’.
Lian, Hongping and Raul P. Lejano (2014). Interpreting institutional fit: urbanization, development, and China’s “land-lost”World Development, 61, pp.1-10.
Urbanization-led development brings not just demographic, technological, and economic change, but profound institutional transition, as well. The scale and pace of China’s urbanization project have generated a crisis for millions living in rural–urban peripheries. We will utilize a model of institutional fit to conduct a critical analysis of China’s urbanization program and its implementation problems. Utilizing a semi-structured interview format, we analyze the experiences of the so-called “land-lost” residents in Changsha, China, vis-à-vis this ongoing institutional transition. The analysis provides a rich account of the myriad ways the transition to a privatized property market runs counter to the collective nature of peri-urban Chinese communities.
Land use policy in China. Edited by Hualou Long . Special issue of Land Use Policy, 40, September 2014, pp. 1-146.
This themed issue of Land Use Policy builds mainly on papers presented at an international conference on ‘Land Use Issues and Policy in China under Rapid Rural and Urban Transformation’, convened by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China, in October 2012. The conference set out to share and promote new scientific findings from a range of disciplines that advance research on land use policy in China. The contributions to this themed issue provide conceptual–theoretical and empirical takes on the topic, around four main areas of interest to both researchers and policymakers: nation-wide land use issues, the Sloping Land Conversion Program, land engineering and land use, and land use transitions. Various land use issues have been associated with rapid urban–rural transformations in China, giving rise to formulation of new policies directly affecting land use. However, these have contributed to new land use problems due to the nature of the policies and the difficulties in policy implementation constrained by the special ‘dual-track’ structure of urban–rural development in China. In view of this, this themed edition makes a compelling call for more systematic research into the making and implementation of China’s land use policy. It also emphasizes the challenges for further research on land use policy in China.
Li, Shi (2014). Poverty reduction and effects of pro-poor policies in rural China. China & World Economy, 22, p. 22–41. Pre-published online: 12 March 2014. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-124X.2014.12060.x
The present paper describes changes in poverty reduction in recent decades and the effects of income growth and inequality on poverty reduction in rural China. The paper also examines the main poverty alleviation policies implemented in rural areas over the past 10 years and assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of these policies from the perspective of targeting accuracy. It is found that China has achieved significant progress in rural poverty reduction in recent decades, although the speed of poverty reduction has varied from one period to another. The largest contribution to rural poverty reduction has been economic growth, which has been increasingly offset by the inequality effect on poverty reduction. In addition, poverty alleviation policies are effective, but not efficient.
Chabrowski, Igor (2013). Representing and coping with early twentieth-century Chongqing: “Guide songs” as maps, memory cells, and means of creating cultural imagery. Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review. E-Journal 6, p. 67-94. Retrieved 19 May 2014 from: https://cross-currents.berkeley.edu/e-journal/issue-6/Chabrowski.
Chongqing’s “guide songs” form an interesting subgenre among the broad category of haozi 號子 (workers’ songs). These early twentieth-century songs were a form of rhythm-based oral narrative describing Chongqing’s urban spaces, river docks, and harbors. Each toponym mentioned in the lyrics was followed by a depiction of the characteristic associations, whether visible or symbolic, of the place. This article aims to analyze the verbal images of Chongqing presented in these songs in order to understand how the city was remembered, reproduced, and represented. The article deconstructs representations of the city produced by the lower classes, mainly by Sichuan boatmen, and links culturally meaningful images of urban spaces with the historical experiences of work, religion, and historical-mythical memory. It also points to the functions that oral narratives had in the urban environment of early twentieth-century Chongqing. Rhythmic and easy to remember, the songs provided ready-to-use guides and repositories of knowledge useful to anyone living or working there. A cross between utilitarian resource books and cultural representations, they shaped modes of thinking and visualizations of urban spaces and Chongqing. Finally, this article responds to the need to employ popular culture in our thinking about Chinese cities and the multiplicity of meanings they were given in pre-Communist times.
Ye, L. and Wu, A. M. (2014). Urbanization, land development, and land financing: evidence from Chinese cities. Journal of Urban Affairs. Prepublished April, 14, 2014, doi: 10.1111/juaf.12105
China’s urbanization is significant worldwide. This process is characterized by underurbanization of population and fast urban land expansion. The driving forces behind this expansion and their rationale are not fully understood and empirically tested. This study fills this gap by analyzing panel data from 1999–2009 for all 286 prefecture-level cities in China. The findings reveal that land financing, using different measures, significantly contributed to land urbanization in China. Economically stronger cities with higher real estate investment more aggressively pushed for land urbanization. The true purpose of urbanization should be improving the living standard, not to generate revenue. It is suggested that urbanization can serve its justified goals only if fiscal and political relations between central and local governments can be adjusted. As more data become available, future studies are encouraged to further explore the subject by investigating additional factors and the latest trend of urbanization in China.