Category Archives: Communication

Signal Tree

Travelling in China, you may see a particularly tall tree on a mountain or in a park; its colour is similar to other trees around it. But when you move and look closer and touch this tree, the texture does not feels like tree bark but a plastic surface. It is actually a signal tree, the telecom operators’ idea to preserve the natural landscape. So, signal towers are built in the shape of a tree. This is a construction unique to urban development in China.

signal tree

Image source:

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.

More Posts




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.

More Posts

Analyzing user behavior of the micro-blogging website Sinaweibo during hot social events

Wanqiu Guan, Haoyu Gao, Mingmin Yang and al (2014), Analyzing user behavior of the micro-blogging website Sina Weibo during hot social events.

The spread and resonance of users’ opinions on Sina Weibo, the most popular micro-blogging website in China, are tremendously influential, having significantly affected the processes of many real-world hot social events. We select 21 hot events that were widely discussed on Sina Weibo in 2011, and do some statistical analyses. Our main findings are that (i) male users are more likely to be involved, (ii) messages that contain pictures and those posted by verified users are more likely to be reposted, while those with URLs are less likely, (iii) the gender factor, for most events, presents no significant difference in reposting likelihood.

Published Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications Volume 395, 1 February 2014, p.340–351, Science Direct (Restricted access).
Open access: Submitted on 14 Apr 2013 (v1), last revised 24 Oct 2013 (this version, v4) arXiv:1304.3898 [cs.SI]

Source: Teaser for Weibo today, a weekly show spotlighting trending topics from China’s social networks in English March 2012

Jacqueline Nivard

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

More Posts - Website

Chinese Journal of Urban and Environmental Studies (CJUES)

A new journal in urban and environmental studies, edited by Pan Jiahua, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Ni Pengfei (CAS and UrbaChina research team), is a member of the editorial board.

CJUESChinese Journal of Urban and Environmental Studies (CJUES) (ISSN 2345-7481 print /2345-752X online) is a peer-reviewed journal that seeks to publish high-quality research papers and book reviews to explore a wide range of academic and policy concerns of urban and environmental studies. CJUES publishes scholarly work with a special emphasis on the following fields:

  • theoretical and conceptual frameworks for urban and environmental studies
  • the trend of urban and environmental development in both China and international context
  • issues of urban studies, including urbanization, urban planning, urban form, urban problems, urban land use, urban transportation
  • issues of sustainability and environmental developments, including environmental protection, environmental policy, climate change
  • linkage between urban, environmental and other areas of social and economic policy
  • international comparison and developments

Table of contents (vol. 1, n° 1, December 2013)

Free access to all CJUES issues is provided until 31 March 2015
(registration online required)


Monique Abud

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

More Posts

Call for papers: Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies

Submissions are invited from graduate students for a special issue of the Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies (GJAPS): Urban Futures in the Asia-Pacific (Simon Opit, editor, University of Auckland, New Zealand).

Cities are centres of economic, social, political and cultural activity, but they can also be areas of intense poverty, unhealthy environments, dangerous spaces and captivity. With the current unprecedented rates of growth in the Asia-Pacific unlikely to abate it is of great importance that we maximise the potential of urban spaces while avoiding the multitudinous harm that cities can cause. The Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies is calling for papers that provide perspectives on the possible future of urban spaces in the Asia-Pacific.

Such a theme is open to both quantitative and qualitative perspectives on urban spaces and encourages artistic, empirical or theoretical contributions that relate to, but are not limited to any of the following major themes:

  • Examining urban policies that are argued to promote sustainable urbanism and create more resilient, liveable urban spaces.
  • Assessing the potential of future technologies and/or transport initiatives that offer solutions to urban problems.
  • Investigating layers of urban governance structures and how they impact on urban environments and their development, either as a constructive or restrictive force.
  • Analysing our understandings of urban spaces and providing critical review of the current values that underpin urban practices.
  • Detailing and evaluating methodological innovation in the field of urban studies, including new tools and technologies that provide novel ideas and a better of understandings of our urban world.

Contributions are welcome from all fields, including: social sciences and the humanities, architecture and planning, politics and policy analysis, or any other form of urban study.GJAPS interprets the designation “Asia-Pacific” in the broadest sense, to encompass East, Northeast and Southeast Asia, the Malay Archipelago, Australasia, Polynesia and Oceania, the West Coast of the Americas, including California, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, British Columbia, Central and South America.Submissions should be received by 1st of April 2014.

More info here

GJAPS website

Monique Abud

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

More Posts

Mobile phone use among migrant factory workers in South China

Peng, Yinni  and Choi, Susanne Y. P. (2013). Mobile phone use among migrant factory workers in South China: technologies of power and resistance. The China Quarterly, 215, pp 553-571. doi:10.1017/S0305741013000738.


Comparing ethnographic and interview data in three contrasting production arrangements in a labour-intensive factory in South China, this article argues that while the mobile phone constitutes a new contested terrain on the shop floor and facilitates control and resistance between capital and labour simultaneously, the dynamics of control and resistance is contingent upon the exact arrangements of production. While the management strictly prohibit line operators in the assembly line department from using their mobile phones, they turn a blind eye towards mobile phone use among workers in the hardware department, and mandate mobile workers who are not fixed at work stations in both departments to use mobile phones. Diverse managerial control tactics have generated different patterns of worker resistance. Workers in the assembly line department employ strategies to evade managerial surveillance and continue to use mobile phones at work covertly. They also contest the double standards of mobile phone use displayed by the management. Workers in the hardware department challenge the boundaries of legitimate mobile phone use, and mobile workers use tactics to escape being tracked down by the management via their mobile phones. Mobile phones also facilitate the strategy of resistance through exit among all workers.

Read full text on Cambridge Journals online (restricted access or purchase option)

About the authors

  1. Peng Yinni (彭铟旎) is Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology, Hong Kong Baptist University
  2. Susanne Y. P. Choi (蔡玉萍) is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong



Monique Abud

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

More Posts

Beijing’s rise as a global city

Wang, Feng (2013) Beijing as a globally fluent city. Washington, DC : Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy & Global Cities Initiative. 20 p. (accessed 28 October 2013)

Beijing is without any doubt already a global city. A symbol of China’s emergence as a global power, Beijing ranks among the world’s most influential cities. Beijing has developed into an important global city in a relatively short period of time. Beijing has benefited from efforts by the Chinese government and Beijing’s municipal government to elevate the city’s international reputation, and from Beijing’s legacy and position as China’s political and cultural center. There has also been massive investment in infrastructure to support business and innovation activities and to enhance Beijing’s global connectivity. However, Beijing’s rise as a global city is still incomplete.

Beijing’s global influence in terms of economic competitiveness and financial interconnectedness still do not measure up to the top cities in the world. In Beijing as a Globally Fluent City, Feng Wang examines four key questions on Beijing’s rise towards becoming a top tier global city:

  1. What kind of city does Beijing aspire to be?
  2. How can Beijing improve its governance?
  3. What does it take to build a more vibrant economy?
  4. How can Beijing’s global identity be further enhanced?
  • Wang Feng (Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy)

Monique Abud

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

More Posts

Making cultural cities in Asia

Call for Papers: Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Tampa, FL, April 8-12th – 2014

Session Title: Making Cultural Cities in Asia

Jun Wang (City University of Hong Kong)
Tim Oakes and Yang Yang (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Tim Oakes (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Session Abstract
In an increasingly globalizing world, many ‘ideas’, ‘innovations’, and ‘best practices’ derived from the West have flocked into Asian cities without much critical assessment of their contextual appropriateness and consequences. “Cultural/creative cities” is one such example. However, such occurrences in Asian cities linked to global networks of urbanism have only recently been taken up for examination, as empirical studies on Asian cities are few and far between. As for recent literature on creative/ cultural cities and industries in Asia, a growing body of scholarship has focused on this topic. Yet, less attention has been given to the critical issue of the applicability, transferability, and translation of “creative/cultural cities” from their Euro-American origins to Asian contexts.

Highlighting these issues, we intend to collect various explorations on the question of state-society interrelations amidst the mobility and territorialization of “creative/cultural cities” policies. We contend that the project of producing new urban spatial orders in a global network may be interpreted as a dynamic process:  how the mobile idea of cultural/creative cities has been channeled to and territorialized in Asian cities, and how the mutated or re-invented versions have been territorialized, institutionalized, branded and, perhaps, exported.

On the one side of the spectrum, we call for studies on policy mobility, in particular the political construction of the “web” of communication and the restructuring or rescaling of the state. On the other side, we look for studies that examine the impact of cultural/creative city projects on urban society, in particular the increasingly fragmented social forces, their changing roles in the process, their negotiations, alignments, and resistances.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Jun Wang ( or Yang Yang ( by November 15, 2013. Priorities will be given to those who submit before October 23, 2013. Please feel free to contact them with questions about the session.

See the AAG Annual meeting website

Monique Abud

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

More Posts

Urban infrastructure governance and urban growth

Call for paper, AAG 2014: Urban Infrastructure Governance and Urban Growth

 Urban infrastructure (e.g. electricity supply, water supply, transportation, communication, etc.) is at the very heart of economic and social development of a city. It provides the foundation for virtually all modern-day economic activity, constitutes a major economic sector in its own right, and contributes importantly to raising living standards and the quality of life. With the continuously expanding urban population and land use, governments are confronted with new challenges for planning & governance of urban infrastructure provision. Meanwhile, many cities, both in China and West, are trying to maintain continuous urban growth by providing more and better urban infrastructure. The majority of China’s cities, for example, are building industrial parks to attract internal and external investments.

The aim of this session is to encourage submissions that address any issues related with urban infrastructure planning & governance and the role it plays in urban growth in China and the West. Both theoretical and empirical research contributions are welcome.

Please e-mail the abstract and key words with your expression of intent to Rongxu Qiu or Yin Yang by November 19th, 2013.


Yin Yang, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. Email:

Rongxu Qiu,Department of Geography, University of Lethbridge. Email:


October 7th, 2013: Call for papers.

October 23rd, 2013: You can benefit from a reduced registration fee if you register for the conference prior to Oct 23 (you can submit your abstract later).
November 19th, 2013: Abstract submission and expression of intent to session organizers.
November 22nd, 2013: Session finalization.
December 1st, 2013: Final abstract submission to AAG, via
December 3rd, 2013: AAG registration deadline. Sessions submitted to AAG for approval.
April 8th -12th, 2014: AAG meeting, Tampa Bay, Florida, USA.

More infomamtion at the AAG annual meeting webpage

Monique Abud

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

More Posts

Smart cities: perspectives from Germany and China

ICT as an enabler for intelligent city development: perspectives from Germany and China

The development of Intelligent Cities is a topic of interest to public policy makers,
researchers, and businesses in both the developed and fast developing worlds.
China has made Intelligent City development a national priority and has already
developed a number of initiatives, not only in major cities such as Beijing and
Shanghai, but in newly developing centers such as Wuxi and Ningbo. Information
and Communications Technology are playing an essential role in these
The Chinese Academy of Engineering, acatech – the German National Academy of
Science and Engineering, and the Münchner Kreis have all been active in research
and discussions concerning Intelligent City development. In this conference, these
three organizations will bring together academic and business experts to present and
compare research, examples, and future visions both in China and Germany for the
development of Intelligent Cities using information and communication technology as
an enabler. This conference should be of interest to researchers, business
practitioners, but also local, state, and national government policy makers.


September 11 and 12, 2013


Haus der Bayerischen Wirtschaft, Munich, Germany


Not later than 4 September 2013

Participation fee

€ 420,- per person.

More details on the conference webpage

Monique Abud

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

More Posts

Rumor, mobile phone, and resistance in contemporary China

Jun Liu (2013), Rumor, Mobile Phone, and Resistance in contemporary China Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University
This study examines the characteristics and nature of rumor via mobile communication in contemporary China. By focusing on six concrete case studies with 50+ in-depth interviews, this study observes that mobile phone-mediated rumor has evolved into a special form of popular resistance at the grassroots level. The low-cost and user-friendly mobile device lowers the average protest threshold, creating an unprecedented opportunity for people, especially those without complicated communication skills, to organize, coordinate, or participate in resistance. The mutual visibility of meta-communication through
mobile network greatly increases both credibility of information and sense of security for participation. Additionally, the synchrono us mobile communication accumulates rumor discourse into resistance in a very short time. As a new kind of contentious politics, rumor dissemination via mobile phones show the opposition to government censorship and control of communications, and most important, the resistance against the use of the accusation of “rumor” by authorities to stifle any different voices.

Jacqueline Nivard

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

More Posts - Website

Technomobility in China: young migrant women and mobile phones

Cara Wallis (2013), Technomobility in China: Young Migrant Women and Mobile Phones, New York: NYU Press, 288 p. ISBN-10:0814795269 ISBN-13:978-0814795262

As unprecedented waves of young, rural women journey to cities in China, not only to work, but also to “see the world” and gain some autonomy, they regularly face significant institutional obstacles as well as deep-seated anti-rural prejudices. Based on immersive fieldwork, Cara Wallis provides an intimate portrait of the social, cultural, and economic implications of mobile communication for a group of young women engaged in unskilled service work in Beijing, where they live and work for indefinite periods of time.
While simultaneously situating her work within the fields of feminist studies, technology studies, and communication theory, Wallis explores the way in which the cell phone has been integrated into the transforming social structures and practices of contemporary China, and the ways in which mobile technology enables rural young women—a population that has been traditionally marginalized and deemed as “backward” and “other”—to participate in and create culture, allowing them to perform a modern, rural-urban identity. In this theoretically rich and empirically grounded analysis, Wallis provides original insight into the co-construction of technology and subjectivity as well as the multiple forcesthat shape contemporary China.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Mobile Bodies, Mobile Technologies, and Immobile Mobility
  • Ch. 2 Market Reforms, Global Linkages, and (Dis)continuity in Post-Socialist China
  • Ch. 3 “My First Big Urban Purchase”: Mobile Technologies and Modern Subjectivity
  • Ch. 4 Navigating Mobile Networks of Sociality and Intimacy
  • Ch. 5 Picturing Self, Imagining the World
  • Ch. 6 Mobile Communication and Labor Politics
  • Conclusion: The Mobile Assemblage and Social Change in China

Jacqueline Nivard

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

More Posts - Website

Chinese corpus

 Chinese corpus. A study of overseas Chinese presence on the Web:  Morphology of the Web and production of the diaspora
By Emmanuel Ma Mung Kuang

This exploratory survey falls into a general investigation of the way dispersed collectives create their own worlds. The objective is to discover how use of the Internet configures their singular space and time (their own worlds). The unexpected results are that the Chinese diasporic Web is mainly Anglo-Saxon and that the geography of the selected sites does not correspond at all to the geography of the Chinese diaspora. Is this merely the effect of the criteria used to select the sites, or is it the sign of a deeper-reaching phenomenon?

More information

Jacqueline Nivard

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

More Posts - Website

The e-Diasporas Atlas

The e-Diasporas Atlas is a unique experiment in research on diasporas as well as in publishing, a first in the restitution of scientific findings and their presentation. Historically, the emergence of e-diasporas occurred in tandem with the diffusion of the Internet and the development of multiple online public services. At the end of the 1990s, a number of institutions joined forces with the new ‘e’-technologies (e-administration, e-democracy, e-education, e-healthcare, e-culture, e-tourism), which gave rise to the first presence on the Web of associations run by migrant populations. If the earliest websites were produced by IT professionals, we soon saw the diffusion of the Web in all of the diasporic communities and at all levels. The last ten years witnessed the use of both Webs 1.0 and 2.0 in these communities as well as the widespread appropriation of the various social-networking platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). These new communication and organization practices have produced a vast, moving e-corpus, whose exploration, analysis and archiving have never before been attempted. The outcome of the efforts of more than 80 researchers worldwide, the e-Diasporas Atlas is the first of its kind, with some 8,000 migrant websites archived and observed in their interactions.

A migrant site is a website created or managed by migrants and/or that deals with them (at any rate, a site for which migration or diasporas is a defining theme). This can be a personal site or blog, the site of an association, a portal/forum, an institutional site, or anything similar. Usage is not the criterion: a site often consulted by migrants (a media site, for example) is not necessarily a migrant site. What distinguishes ‘activity’ is first and foremost the production of content and the practice of citation (hyperlinks). On the other hand, a migrant site need not necessarily be located in a foreign country; it may just as easily be in the country of

origin. Migrant sites testify to a given e–diaspora’s occupation of the Web.
What we call e-diaspora is a migrant collective that organises itself and is active first and foremost on the Web: its practices are those of a community whose interactions are ‘enhanced’ by digital exchange. An e-diaspora is also a dispersed collective, a heterogeneous entity whose existence rests on the elaboration of a common direction, a direction not defined once and for all but which is constantly renegotiated as the collective evolves. An e-diaspora is an unstable collective because it is redrawn by every newcomer. It is self-defined, as it grows or diminishes not by inclusion or exclusion of members, but through a voluntary process of individuals joining or leaving the collective – simply by establishing hyperlinks or removing them from websites.

An e-diaspora is both ‘online’ and ‘offline’. We are therefore interested in both the digital ‘translations’ of ‘physical’ actors/phenomena (the online activities of associations, for example) and the specifically (‘natively’) digital actors/phenomena (e. g. a forum and its internal interactions), what are sometimes called pure players. The question of ‘rub–offs’ – reciprocal influence between these two sorts of Web entity – is of capital importance in analysing an e–diaspora. It is thus clear that the research carried out in the context of the e–Diasporas Atlas presupposes knowledge of the diaspora in question and, based on exploration of the Web, calls on new research in the field. It also implies knowledge of the Web and an appreciation of the singularity of the exchanges that take place there.
We prefer the term ‘e–diaspora’ to that of ‘digital diaspora’ because the latter may lend to confusion given the increasingly frequent use of the notions of ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’, in a ‘generational’ sense (distinguishing those born before from those born during/after the digital era). The object of the e–Diasporas Atlas is not this ‘digital migrant’, however, but the connected migrant. (Read more about the concept…)

Jacqueline Nivard

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

More Posts - Website