Category Archives: Goulard, Sebastien

NDRC’s plan to further high speed rail network in China

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has unveiled new plans to intensify railroad transportation construction, particularly in Western China.
China owns now the largest high-speed rail network in the world. This network is widely used by citizens especially these days, for New Year holidays.
But one can question the financing of such infrastructures. It has been noted that very few high speed rail lines in the world have proved to be profitable. The popular Beijing-Shanghai line has only turned profitable in 20141. But maintenance costs are still very high and can only rise as China labor costs is increasing.
During my studies, I examined the case of high speed railroad in Hainan. This province has the denser network of high speed railroads in China. I found out that this programme was very expensive for the provincial government and so the local government has increased its economic dependency toward the central authorities. They have also relied on intense real estate constructions along the network to finance these infrastructures and this has led to real estate speculation issues.
Although we cannot deny the social benefits of high speed train network, China has to make sure that these unprofitable lines would not become an economic burden.

  1. Lyu Chang (2015). ‘Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line turns profitable in 2014’. China daily, January 27. Retrieved February 22, 2015 from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2015-01/27/content_19414353.htm []

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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Shanghai choosing quality over quantity?

Last year, Shanghai’s GDP growth rate reached 7%. Although this figure is impressive according to European standards, it is lower than the national rate of 7.4%

This year, the Shanghai government has decided not to set a growth target. It is the first Chinese city to abandon GDP growth forecasts. The objective of this policy is to switch from growth at all costs to sustainable and innovative development.

More information to be find at: Wildau, G. (2015). Shanghai first major Chinese region to ditch GDP growth target. January 26, 2015, The Financial Times. Retrieved February 14, 2015 from http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2c822efc-a51d-11e4-bf11-00144feab7de.html#axzz3Ro8Q8zl9.

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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Flushing again in Ordos ?

SEIWater is a scarce resource, especially in the arid plains of Inner Mongolia.

In 2003, the Stockholm Environment Institute in collaboration with a local district of Ordos started to implement a project of eco-sanitation and tested dry toilets. But this initiative came to an end in 2010.

Arno Rosemarin and Guoyi Han explained in a short article the reasons why this poject was not continued.

Rosemarin, A. and Han, G. (2013, January).  Is urban ecological sanitation possible? Lessons from Erdos, China. Stockholm Environment Institute. Retrieved February 8, 2016 from http://www.sei-international.org/-news-archive/2542?format=pdf.

 

 

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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Second homes in Hainan (II): social inequalities

The second homes phenomenon not only increases the economic dependency to tourism and real estate sector in Hainan, but also aggravates social inequalities on the island.

In 2013, 40% of all residential real estate transactions were made by non locals. This figure reached 85% in Sanya, the island’s main resort city1. This means that few locals can now afford to buy their home in the southern coast of Hainan. Only wealthy mainlanders can do so.

The Hainanese society has a complex structure, and has long suffered from disparities; second homes may strengthen these inequalities.

Feng Chongyi and David Goodman2 note in the 90’s that the Hainanese society was divided between locals and mainlanders. With Hainan being granted the status of province in 1988, hundred thousand skilled workers flocked from mainland to the island where they were offered high positions in the local administrations and state owned companies.

The development of tourism and second homes in Hainan may deepen these divisions.

According to a study made by Wang, Wei and Li3, Sanya’s population is divided into three main groups that are the local residents (500,000 inhabitants), visitors (100,000) and non local residents  (200 000 inhabitants living in the city several weeks/months per year).

This new population does not only affect real estate prices, but also everyday product prices, this makes locals complain about inflation. The municipal government of Sanya has constantly readjusted the amount of allocation offered to its local residents.Social discontent in Hainan can lead to further tensions between locals and second home owners, and this may make the island’s image less attractive.

Another possible consequence of the second home boom in Hainan is the destruction of local cultural particularisms. With more mainlanders coming to Hainan, the island can lose its “art de vivre”. In the 90’s, one of the consequence of the massive coming of mainlanders to the Hainan was the weakening of Hainanese dialect.

Today, Hainan has for ambition to become a successful tourist destination, but can also do so by offering more than “the sea and sun package”, and so needs to promote its insular culture. And so an equilibirum needs to be found between the settling of second home owners from mainland and the preservation of local culture(s).

 

  1. “85% of Sanya’s residential properties sold to non-islanders”, Hainan government, March 13 2014. Retreived September 20, 2014 from http://en.visithainan.gov.cn/en/lynewsview_2929.htm []
  2. Feng Chongyi and David, S. G. Goodman (1997), “ Hainan: communal politics and the struggle for identity”, in GOODMAN, David S. G. (ed.), China’s provinces in reform : class, community and political culture, London, New York: Routledge []
  3. WANG Fei et al.(2013), “Equalization of public service facilities for tourist cities – case study of Sanya’s downtown public service facilities in the planning process”, ISOCARP []

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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Second homes in Hainan (I): reducing dependency.

As noted in a previous post, the second home phenomenon in China is quite different from the one in Western countries. Most of them are not exactly holiday homes, but are bought for other purposes. On exception may be Hainan: the southern island is presented as a major tourist destination and so the island has attracted thousands of Mainlanders who wish to spend a few weeks per year under the sun. But second home acquisitions in Hainan are also motivated by speculation. Per consequence, this phenomenon needs be carefully scrutinized by local authorities, and more actions should be taken to reduce the local dependency to the real estate sector.

In the past, in the early years of reforms, Hainan was doomed by real estate speculation and this partly caused the economic turmoil the island experienced in the late 90’s.

Since then, the island has been recovering thanks to the development of tourism.  With tourism and the rising of Chinese middle-class, second homes have appeared in Hainan. According to Wang Xiaoxiaà in in 2006, 25,000 second homes could be found Haikou1.

In 2010 was launched an ambitious plan to transform Hainan into an international destination by 2020. This decision boosted the housing sector on the island, but for fear of overheating, the local government limited the number of acquisitions one may purchased in Hainan. In spite of these measures, the island experienced a strong increase of real estate prices, and Sanya, Hainan’s main resort city, has become the 5th most expensive Chinese city.

For the local authorities, real estate and construction have gradually become their main financial resources. For the first semester 2014, more than one third of the provincial GDP was produced by real estate, this figure reached nearly three-fourths in Sanya2.

This causes the whole economy of Hainan to be very dependent on real estate.  And the bad news is that real estate in Hainan is very volatile and speculative. Most real estate programmes do not answer local housing demands but target wealthy Mainlanders, and since the beginning of this year, sales have started to drop.

This should drive the local government of Hainan to reconsider its strategy and diversify the island’s economic activities.

————

I have studied this aspect of the development of tourism in Hainan in my Ph.D. dissertation entitled “Les politiques de développement regional d’une zone périphérique chinoise, le cas de la province de Hainan (Regional development policies in a Chinese peripheral region: the case of Hainan province). This dissertation was defended on December, 18, 2014, and will soon be available online.

  1. WANG Xiaoxiao (2006), The second home phenomenon in Haikou, Master thesis, University of Waterloo, Canada. Retreived December 20, 2015 from http://etd.uwaterloo.ca/etd/x42wang2006.pdf []
  2. DOI, Noriyuki (2014), ‘Chinese housing prices still sliding’, Nikkei Asian review, August, 24. Retreived September 20, 2014 from http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Chinese-housing-prices-still-sliding []

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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Smoking and risk perceptions in China

chinese-no-smokingLast month, the authorities of Beijing adopted a law banning smoking in indoor public spaces. Smoking is a big issue in China and officials take this problem seriously.

But according to a recent article published in the “Nicotine and Tobacco research” journal1, more policies need to be adopted to reduce tobacco consumption in China. In this article, authors noted that:

Smokers in China did not recognize their heightened personal risk of cancer, possibly reflecting ineffective warning labels on cigarette packs, a positive affective climate associated with smoking in China.

The article shows that Chines smokers seem not to be aware of the real dangers of tobacco.

 

  1. Alexander Persoskie et al(2014).’Absolute and comparative cancer risk perceptions among smokers in two cities in China’. Nicotine and Tobacco research, 16(6), pp.899-903 []

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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Warmer relations between Washington and Beijing on climate change

After European Union leaders’ decision to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030, US and China also agreed to take actions to limit greenhouse gases.

These decisions are very ambitious, and could literally save the world from pollution and climate change, but as noted by Rebecca Leber1, there might be some obstacles to their implementation.

Both countries have a lot of work ahead to get to these targets.

  1. LEBER, R., 2014. The World has waited for the U.S. and China to ake action on climate change. They just did, The New Republic, November 12, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120242/us-and-china-reach-agreement-climate-change []

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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A Horse Dragon flying from Nantes to Beijing

For the celebration of the 50th anniversary of France-China diplomatic relations, a Horse Dragon (龙马) automaton was sent to Beijing, where it took part in a performance with a giant mechanical spider near the Olympic site.

These robots were designed and operated by a French production company based in Nantes.

Longma (horse dragon) is not the first automaton to originate from Nantes. This French city has become the home of similar projects since 1989, when the association Royal de Luxe launched “Le Géant” (the Giant). The Giant’s family has since extended with the creation of a Giant’s daughter and a Giant’s grandma (in 2014). More automatons, including an elephant and some spiders, were born on Nantes’ piers. These structures have become symbols of Nantes and are also city ambassadors traveling to Liverpool, Yokohama, and now Beijing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKVjdOAasF0

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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Beijing©, Shanghai ®

megacitiesCan Chinese cities be branded?

City authorities can no longer aim solely for improving their residents’ living standards, they also need to become attractive to visitors and investors, and so they create their own brands. This branding is necessary because of the increasing competition among cities.
Earlier this year, Per Olof Berg and Emma Björner edited a book on the branding of Chinese mega-cities. This book proposes different perspectives on this phenomenon by comparing Chinese mega-cities (that is to say Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Shenzhen) and other international mega-cities. It studies several aspects of China’s mega-cities, from promotional films (chapter by Marina Svennson) to the emergence of green cities (chapter by Jorgen Delman).
For Berg and Björner, city branding is more complex than corporate branding, because, firstly, cities may have more images than companies; and secondly, unlike companies, the ownership structure is not clear. Who actually owns the city? Who decides on a city brand? This question is clearly linked to governance.
This interesting book is divided into three parts. After looking at the development of mega-cities in China, the contributors offer several case studies of city branding in China, and then analyse Chinese mega-cities’ global competitiveness.
In Chapter 16, Can-Seng Ooi notes that some Chinese cities copy other cities and construct similar brands, but the author also argues that this trend is adopted not only by Chinese cities, but most international mega-cities as well. Although they pretend to offer a unique experience to visitors and investors, most mega-cities are emulating each other. They simply do not want to risk being too different, because they want to be recognisable as world-class mega-cities, so they adopt similar policies.

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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UrbaChina Newsletter 2014-40 (October)

 

The UrbaChina Newsletter 2014-40 (October) is now published. To subscribe to our newsletter please contact us at urbachina-edition@services.cnrs.fr

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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Shanghai, the Star of China’s movie industry

brill

After a relatively long absence, China’s movie industry is booming again.

The cinema of China experienced its golden age in the 1920 and 1930’s, most of the studios  were locat’d in the city of Shanghai

Huang Xuelei recently (University  of Edinburgh) published a book on this subject and exposed the story of the most influential studio of this time : Mingxing (明星) film company.

This book can be ordered here.

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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UrbaChina Newsletter 2014-37 (September)

 

The UrbaChina Newsletter 2014-37 (September) is now published. To subscribe to our newsletter please contact us at urbachina-edition@services.cnrs.fr

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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Back in the saddle !

Last week end, were held the Beijing International Cycle Expo and the 3rd Beijing Cycling Festival.

Riding a bike seems trendy again in China.

Visit the expo’s website here.

 

 

 

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)

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UrbaChina Newsletter 2014-36 (September)

 

The UrbaChina Newsletter 2014-36 (September) is now published. To subscribe to our newsletter please contact us at urbachina-edition@services.cnrs.fr

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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Agro-food markets in China

agro-foodAugustin-Jean, Louis & Alpermann, Bjorn (eds.) (2014), The political economy of agro-food markets in China: the social construction of the markets in an era of globalization. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

After thirty years of reforms and continuous economic growth, China’s agricultural production and food consumption have increased tremendously, leading to a complete evolution of agro-food markets. The authors use a path dependency approach to analyze the development of these markets, the structure of which remains relatively unknown. The authors use agro-food industries in China, to describe the organization of agricultural markets in China, and its implication for local people as well as for her integration into the world economy.

 

 

 

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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