Category Archives: Monique Abud

Local accounts of high-speed rail reform in China

Speelman, Tabitha. (2015) A bullet train or a paved road? Local accounts of high-speed rail reform in China. The Newsletter, International Institute for Asian Studies, 70 (Spring 2015). URL : http://www.iias.nl/the-newsletter/article/bullet-train-or-paved-road-local-accounts-high-speed-rail-reform-china?utm_source=emailcampaign346&utm_medium=phpList&utm_content=HTMLemail&utm_campaign=%5BIIAS%5D+The+Newsletter+|+No.+70+|+Spring+2015f
The first Chinese high-speed rail (HSR) connection opened in 2007, but by the end of 2013 the country had over 12,000 km of high-speed tracks (the biggest network in the world and about half of all HSR tracks in operation worldwide). Service levels among China’s high-speed trains are high; passengers play games on their phones and consume luxury foodstuff s sold on board, as they near their destination at 300 km/h. The perfectly air-conditioned, mostly quiet HSR environment stands in stark contrast to the bustling carriages of regular Chinese trains, in which passengers chat over card games and share life stories, eating instant noodles and sunflower seeds (not for sale on HSR). Influencing traveling cultures is only one of many ways in which the construction of the world’s most advanced highspeed railroad (HSR) network is changing China, a country in which access to travel is closely tied to socio-economic development. So far, scholarly attention has been limited, but whether it is the economic impact of HSR on remote regions, emerging forms of tourism, or the nostalgia surrounding the disappearing slow trains, the approach of the HSR era in China brings with it many topics worthy of further research.

 

Monique Abud

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

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Ghost cities of China

Shepard, Wade (2015) . Ghost cities of China : the story of cities without people in the world’s most populated country. Zed Books, 192 p. (Asian Arguments). ISBN : 978-1-7836-0219-3

9781783602193Over the next couple of decades, it is estimated that 250 million Chinese citizens will move from rural areas into cities, pushing the country’s urban population over one billion. China has built hundreds of new cities and urban districts over the past thirty years, and hundreds more are set to be built by 2030 as the central government kicks its urbanization initiative into overdrive. As China redraws its map with new cities, it isn’t just creating new urban areas, but also engineering a new culture and way of life. Yet, many of these new cities, such as the infamous Kangbashi and Yujiapu, stand nearly empty, construction having ground to a halt due to the loss of investors and colossal debt.

In Ghost Cities of China, Wade Shepard examines this phenomenon up close. He posits that the shedding of traditional social structures in the country is at an advanced stage, and a rootless, consumption-centric globalized culture is rapidly taking its place. Incorporating interviews and on-the-ground investigation, Ghost Cities of China examines China’s under-populated modern cities and the country’s overly ambitious building program.

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Monique Abud

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

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China and Europe: reconnecting across a new Silk Road

Chen, Xiangming, Julia Mardeusz. (2015) China and Europe: reconnecting across a new Silk Road. The European Financial Review, February-March, pp. 5-12. URL: http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1129&context=facpub [Retrieved 19 February 2015]
Since 2013, economic and trade relations between China and Europe have grown significantly. In this article, the authors look beyond conventional economic indicators, like trade, and political issues, like human rights, instead focusing on transport infrastructure, real estate and tourism to show that a new page is unfolding in the history of China-Europe relations.

Monique Abud

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

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Peri-urban development and the Shanghai master plan 1999-2020

He, Jinghuan. (2015) Evaluation of plan implementation: Peri-urban development and the Shanghai master plan 1999-2020. Architecture and the Built Environment, 2. 262 p.

cover_article_851_en_USSince the 1980s China has experienced unprecedented urbanisation as a result of a series of reforms promoting rapid economic development. Shanghai, like the other big cities along China’s coastline, has witnessed extraordinary growth in its economy and population with industrial development and rural-to-urban migration generating extensive urban expansion. Shanghai’s GDP growth rate has been over 10 per cent for more than 15 years. Its population in 2013 was estimated at 23.47 million, which is double its size in 1979. The urban area enlarged by four times from 644 to 2,860 km2 between 1977 and 2010.

Such demanding growth and dramatic changes present big challenges for urban planning practice in Shanghai. Plans have not kept up with development and the mismatch between the proposals in plans and the actual spatial development has gradually increased, reaching a critical level since 2000. The mismatch in the periurban areas is more notable than that in the existing urban area, but there has not been a systematic review of the relationship between plan and implementation. Indeed, there are few studies on the evaluation of plan implementation in China generally. Although many plans at numerous spatial levels are successively prepared and revised, only few of them have been evaluated in terms of their effectiveness and implementation.

This particularly demanding context for planning where spatial development becomes increasingly unpredictable and more difficult to influence presents an opportunity to investigate the role of plans under conditions of rapid urbanisation. The research project asks to what extent have spatial plans influenced the actual spatial development in the peri-urban areas of Shanghai? The research pays particular attention to the role of the Shanghai Master Plan 1999-2020 (Plan 1999). By answering the main research question this study seeks to contribute to a better understanding of present planning practice in Shanghai from a plan implementation perspective, and to establish an analytical framework for the study of the role of plans that fits the Chinese context. The findings may also help planners, policy makers and private developers to adjust urban planning within the implementation process in order to meet planning objectives at different levels.

The evaluation of plan implementation can be divided into peformance-based and performance-based approaches Conformance approaches focus on the direct linkage (i.e. level of conformity) between the plans and spatial outputs (Laurian et al., 2004; Tian & Shen, 2011). Performance approaches are concerned more with outcomes and the role of the plan in the urban development process (Barrett & Fudge, 1981; Faludi, 2000). Both of these approaches are employed in this research to evaluate the implementation of the Plan 1999. I firstly examine the level of conformity between the Plan 1999 and the overall peri-urban structure at the metropolitan level. I then use examples of specific areas (North Jinqiao Export Processing Zone and Xinmin Development Area) to evaluate performance of the Plan 1999.

The study also takes a diachronic approach, which looks at how relationships between variables change over time in the implementation of the Plan 1999. That is because the performance of plans is influenced by deeper-seated reasons such as the changing institutional context, particularly the levels of interaction between involved actors in the land development processes. As such, the changing planning system in Shanghai and the history of Shanghai’s peri-urban development in the second half of the 20th century are reviewed before the conformance-based and performance-based evaluation.

This research leads to three major findings. First, peri-urban areas have played an increasingly important role in Shanghai’s urbanisation process through accommodating the rapidly increasing population and demands for growth. Such extensive peri-urban development was not guided by the Plan 1999. It is not surprising that plans are left behind in the context of such unprecedented growth, but the pilot programmes and the key projects proposed in the Plan 1999 were implemented with a high level of conformance. However, the Plan 1999 performed differently in local urban projects, with varying degrees of project conformity, development process and development timing.

Second, there was variation in the delivery of the main objectives to the subsequent urban plans, the consistency between the Plan 1999 and the related sector plans, the ways of interaction between involved actors and their reactions to the plan, and the methods of land development. Overall, the Plan 1999 performed better in the case of North Jinqiao Export Processing Zone because the governments (at both national and municipal levels) intervened more in the development process, compared with the case of Xinmin Development Area. The performance of the plan is closely related to the level of conformity between the plan and the actual development. Therefore, although the conformance-based and performance-based approaches to implementation can be separated conceptually, they are very interconnected in practice.

Third, the urban planning system in Shanghai has experienced a structural reorganization in terms of the system of plans, the involved actors and the planning instruments since the late 1980s. But the emphasis on the rational technocratic process used in the 1960s in the western society is still predominant in the planning system in Shanghai. Aside from the demanding urban growth, the other reason of non-conformance between the actual peri-urban development and the Plan 1999 and bad performance of the Plan 1999 in local projects is a big gap between the seemingly rational operation of the urban planning system and the reality of external challenges.

The current planning system lacks proper coordination with the external challenges, such as insufficient investigation of the existing circumstance or history, and ineffective planning instruments. Cooperation between involved actors is also largely absent in planning practice. Overall, urban planning and management in Shanghai could benefit from more recognition and monitoring of plan implementation which would lead to some reconsideration of the planning tools and processes to more effectively guide future urban development.

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Monique Abud

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

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CFP – Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development

International Conference 2015 on Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development

Date

  • August 7-9, 2015

Location

  • National Taipei University of Technology Library, 國立台北科技大學, No. 1號, Section 3, Zhōngxiào East Road, Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10608

Smart city governance

The concept of smart city is suggested as a new style of city for providing sustainable growth and encouraging healthy economic activities to reduce the burden on the environment while improving the QoL (Quality of Life) of city residents. Many experimental projects are currently being carried out in the world, which are varied and divers. Many researchers also be actively involved in vitalizing smart city activities and improving the QoL of residents using ICT-representative technology (Information and Communications Technology). For promoting the establishment of smart cities, SPSD2015 is intended to gather researchers and planning consultants who will share their own ideas and the latest results of research and successful case studies in smart city
governance.

Kuanghui PENG, PhD, Professor
Conference 2015 Chairman,
National Taipei University of Technology, Taipei

Brian PAI, PhD, Assoc. Professor
Conference 2015 Vice Chairman,
National Chengchi University, Taipei

Topics

  • Smart city management;
  • Smart infrastructure planning;
  • Smart mobility society, life style and community;
  • Human behaviors, Spatial analysis and urban modelling;
  • Sustainable development indicator, spatial analysis and urban modelling;
  • Sustainable society and community development;
  • Sustainable society, smart city and planning framework;

Important Dates

For full paper submission and afterconference publication:

  • Deadline for abstract (no more than 800 words):15th Feb, 2015
    Extended to 10th, March (Due to Asian Lunar New Year).
  • Notification for the acceptance of abstract:28th Feb, 2015
    (For the submissions until 10th, March, extended to 20th, March).
  • Deadline for full paper:15th April, 2015
    There will be a review process for afterconference publication and deadline for revised manuscripts
  • For abstract only and oral presentation
    Deadline for abstract (no more than 800 words):15th May, 2015
    Notification for the acceptance of abstract:15th June, 2015

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Monique Abud

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

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Food waste research in China

Cheng, Shengkui (2014). Special session: Food waste research in China : motivation field study, and preliminary results. The Last Food Mile Conference, December 8, 2014, Philadelphia, USA. http://repository.upenn.edu/thelastfoodmile/sessions/session/21.

Food Waste Away-From-Home in the Beijing Urban Area—An Estimate Based on First-Hand Data

Reducing food waste is attracting growing public attention in China, and is widely acknowledged to contribute to abating interlinked sustainability challenges such as food security, climate change, and water shortages. However, the pattern and scale of food waste throughout the consumer stage is poorly understood in China, despite growing media coverage and public concerns in recent years. This paper aims to the estimate food waste away-from-home in the Beijing urban area, mainly based on first-hand surveys.

During the first-hand surveys in the catering sector in the Beijing urban area in 2013, 187 restaurants were investigated, which can be divided into large, middle, small, canteen and fast food categories. Finally, 3833 samples were been collected, and each sample included two parts: a consumer questionnaire, and the weight of food waste generated.

The main conclusions are as follows: (1) It is estimated that about 79.69 g food waste were generated per capita and per meal away-from-home in the Beijing urban area. Obviously, the food waste varied greatly depending on the type of restaurant. For example, the generation in large restaurants was more severe, up to 3 times that in fast food restaurants. (2) The food waste generated comprises many different food groups; the most prominent by weight were cereals (25%), vegetables (41%), meats( 13%), seafood products (11%), poultry (7%), legumes (1%), eggs (2%), and dairy products (less than 1%). (3) According to different purposes and motivations of the meals, the estimate of food waste is: friends meeting (109 g), public events (95 g),family parties (62 g), working meals(63 g) (4) Causes of food waste away-from-home identified in urban China predominantly involve: lack of awareness, portion sizes, individual food preferences, income, and age of the diner. (5) On this basis, the study estimates annual food waste generation away-from-home in the Beijing urban area at approximately 298×103 tonnes, requiring the inputs of about 93441 hm2 arable land, 774020 hm2 grassland, 2461 hm2 water area and 829×103 m3 water wasted without benefit to the consumer.

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Monique Abud

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

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CFP: Special issue on “The economics of wellbeing in China”

Call for papers – Special issue in Social Indicators Research
The economics of wellbeing in China

Guest editors

China is currently the second largest economy in the world. Many, relatively unique, socioeconomic and behavioural phenomena exist in China. Studying these phenomena will not only deepen our understanding of the Chinese economy and Chinese society, but will also provide new insights about how China, and her residents, are shaped by, adapt to, and transform social and economic forces. The different socioeconomic and institutional context of China vis-à-vis that of the West provides opportunities for evaluating, extending, and creating theories of wellbeing.

With this Special Issue we seek to expand our knowledge of wellbeing in China. Submissions should address the broad area of wellbeing through adopting a methodological approach grounded in economics or an allied discipline. Submissions that are interdisciplinary in that they draw on behavioural insights from economics and other disciplines or adopt approaches that inform economics using insights from other disciplines are particularly welcome.

We interpret economics broadly in this context to mean methodological approaches used in economics and allied disciplines and empirical approaches/methods typically employed by economists and researchers in allied disciplines. It would be ideal if we could pull together a group of papers in which traditional methods used in economics were informed by other disciplinary approaches or the papers showed how economics could improve methodological approaches in other areas. An example of the former might be how the use of multi-item indicators can provide insights over and above single item indicators of wellbeing, typically used by economists. An example of the latter might be how causation can be established with observational data on subjective wellbeing using instrumental variables, regression discontinuity, difference-in-difference or propensity score matching. These methods are commonly used in economics, but are relatively less used in some other social sciences. These issues could be illustrated using Chinese applications.

We are particularly interested in studies that:

  1. Explore the psychometric properties of established measures of subjective wellbeing in China and their determinants or re-examine issues previously explored by economists using psychometrically validated measures of wellbeing
  2. Use experimental methods and/or statistical approaches to address the causal relations between wellbeing and other variables
  3. Examine wellbeing in the workforce and its relationship with organisational or societal outcomes
  4. Develop new theory to understand wellbeing in the Chinese context
  5. Examine issues with strong policy relevance such as urbanization, ageing, rural-urban migration, hukou reform, China’s one-child policy, education or other aspects of social and economic changes
  6. Examine the socioeconomic integration of marginalised groups in Chinese society such as ethnic minorities, the urban poor or rural-urban migrants
  7. Provide insights into growing urban income inequality or consumerism in China
  8. Examine aspects of wellbeing of overseas Chinese in regions such as Africa and Europe and, in particular, address issues of integration for these groups with host communitiesHowever, submissions are by no means limited to these topics.While we welcome both theoretical and empirical studies and, in particular, studies that extend theory through application to Chinese phenomena, studies must have application or potential application to improving our understanding of wellbeing in China. Purely technical modelling or survey papers will not be appropriate.We welcome empirical papers that use a range of different data sources.  These include studies that:
  1. Utilize data collected in fieldwork
  2. Use lab and field experiments, including natural experiments
  3. Utilize newly available (panel) data such as the China Family Panel Studies, China Household Finance Survey, Rural-Urban Migrants in China or the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey

Submission Process and Deadline

All submissions will be subject to normal double-blind peer reviews and editorial process in accordance with the policies of Social Indicators Research. Papers submitted to the special issue will be first reviewed by the guest editors and a decision will be made concerning which papers best contribute to the Special Issue.

 

Monique Abud

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

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Fantasy islands

Sze, Julie (2015). Fantasy islands : Chinese dreams and ecological fears in an age of climate crisis. Oakland : University of California press. 248 p. (“A Philip E. Lilienthal Book in Asian Studies”). ISBN : 978-0-5202-8448-7.

11623.110The rise of China and its status as a leading global factory are altering the way people live and consume. At the same time, the world appears wary of the real costs involved. Fantasy Islands probes Chinese, European, and American eco-desire and eco-technological dreams, and examines the solutions they offer to environmental degradation in this age of global economic change.

Uncovering the stories of sites in China, including the plan for a new eco-city called Dongtan on the island of Chongming, mega-suburbs, and the Shanghai World Expo, Julie Sze explores the flows, fears, and fantasies of Pacific Rim politics that shaped them. She charts how climate change discussions align with US fears of China’s ascendancy and the related demise of the American Century, and she considers the motives of financial and political capital for eco-city and ecological development supported by elite power structures in the UK and China. Fantasy Islands shows how ineffectual these efforts are while challenging us to see what a true eco-city would be.

Contents

Introduction
1. Fear, Loathing, Eco-Desire: Chinese Pollution in a Transnational World
2. Changing Chongming
3. Dreaming Green: Engineering the Eco-City
4. It’s a Green World After All? Marketing Nature and Nation in Suburban Shanghai
5. Imagining Ecological Urbanism at the World Expo
Conclusion

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Monique Abud

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

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Eco-urbanism and the eco-city, or, denying the right to the city?

Caprotti, Federico. (2014) Eco-urbanism and the eco-city, or, denying the right to the city? Antipode : A Radical Journal of Geography. Pre-published online, March 3, 2014. DOI: 10.1111/anti.12087

This paper critically analyses the construction of eco-cities as technological fixes to concerns over climate change, Peak Oil, and other scenarios in the transition towards “green capitalism”. It argues for a critical engagement with new-build eco-city projects, first by highlighting the inequalities which mean that eco-cities will not benefit those who will be most impacted by climate change: the citizens of the world’s least wealthy states. Second, the paper investigates the foundation of eco-city projects on notions of crisis and scarcity. Third, there is a need to critically interrogate the mechanisms through which new eco-cities are built, including the land market, reclamation, dispossession and “green grabbing”. Lastly, a sustained focus is needed on the multiplication of workers’ geographies in and around these “emerald cities”, especially the ordinary urban spaces and lives of the temporary settlements housing the millions of workers who move from one new project to another.

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Monique Abud

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

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CFP RGS 2015: ‘Smart’ and ‘Eco’ urbanism(s)

Urban Sustainabilities I: interrogating ‘smart’ and ‘eco’ urbanism(s)

‘Smart’ cities and ‘eco-cities’ are increasingly being packaged as ‘solutions’ to the demand for urban sustainability. This session aims to critically engage with the increasingly dominant, pervasive and hegemonic discourses and paradigms around proposals which place ‘eco’ and ‘smart’ at the forefront of conceptual and policy approaches to the sustainable city in the contemporary urban context. While the following session – Urban Sustainabilities II (see below) – delves deeper into the actually existing iterations of ‘eco’ and ‘smart’ urbanism, this session focuses more closely on these ideas as increasingly central to discourses and strategies focused on making the city ‘sustainable’.

We encourage papers focusing on a critical analysis of urban sustainability from a wide range of theoretical, conceptual and empirical perspectives. Although the session is focused on debating the underpinnings of urban sustainability discourses and ideals, we also encourage contributions that focus on geographically-specific settings and paradigms.

Topics may include, but are not limited, to, the following:

  • Eco-urbanism;
  • Eco-cities;
  • Smart cities;
  • Analysing and debating the ‘meanings’ and ‘signifiers’ involved in sustainable urbanism;
  • ‘Sustainable urbanism’ paradigms in specific regional or national geographies;
  • Sustainable urbanism and the post-political;
  • Theoretical approaches to urban sustainability with a focus on ‘eco’ and ‘smart’
  • Neoliberal sustainable urbanism;
  • Social sustainability in the eco-city/smart city;
  • New and existing inequalities in the eco-city/smart city.

Potential contributors are invited to send abstracts of not more than 150 words to federico.cugurullo [at] manchester.ac.uk and federico.caprotti [at] kcl.ac.uk by 11 February 2015.

Urban sustainabilities II: interrogating sustainable urban designs

In light of the environmental malaise affecting contemporary cities, urban design has recently emerged as a leading medium to achieve sustainability on an urban scale.

There is a substantial body of evidence indicating the correlations between the design of cities and their environmental impact. The concept of sustainable urban design rejects the Modernist fracture between nature and the city, and embraces the idea of cities shaped to be in balance with natural environments.

In practice, the proliferation of theories of sustainable urban design has led to the production of a number of heterogeneous urban projects characterized by the absence of a common denominator. Examples of sustainable urban design include low-tech approaches to urbanization such as compact cities, green infrastructure and bioregionalism, as well as high-tech solutions redolent of the smart city philosophy.

This section aims to add empirical and theoretical richness to the understanding of sustainable urban design by examining and evaluating practices and theories of sustainability-focused urban design from across the world.

Papers in this session are encouraged to focus on specific cases and projects, and to employ either individual case studies as a basis for discussion, or a comparative approach if preferred. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Eco-cities
  • Smart cities
  • Green architecture and infrastructure
  • Bioregional architecture and planning
  • Urban regeneration

Potential contributors are invited to send abstracts of not more than 150 words to federico.cugurullo [at] manchester.ac.uk and federico.caprotti [at] kcl.ac.uk by 11 February 2015.

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Monique Abud

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

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Measuring eco cities, comparing European and Asian experiences: Rotterdam versus Beijing

Meine Pieter van Dijk (2015). Measuring eco cities, comparing European and Asian experiences: Rotterdam versus Beijing. Asia Europe Journal. 20 p. Published online: 4 January 2015. URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10308-014-0405-7

Many cities have taken initiatives to achieve more sustainable development or to become ecological cities. In this paper, ten dimensions are suggested for defining ecological cities and an effort has been made to provide indicators to measure them. Many cities claim to be ecological cities, but there are no non-ambiguous definitions of ecological cities and few efforts have been made to measure to what extent the cities have achieved their goal. This paper considers the efforts of Beijing and Rotterdam to become more eco cities, using these dimensions. What can we learn from these experiences for developing the city of the future? In an illustrative effort to apply the suggested criteria, Rotterdam scored slightly better than Beijing. The latter city is facing more serious environmental problems and is willing to try more innovative solutions, while Rotterdam spends more money on prevention and CO2 reduction.

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Monique Abud

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

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Neighborhood politics in urban China

Tomba, Luigi (2014). The government next door : neighborhood politics in urban China. Ithaca : Cornell university press. 240 p. ISBN : 978-0-8014-5282-6.

80140100835180MChinese residential communities are places of intense governing and an arena of active political engagement between state and society. In The Government Next Door, Luigi Tomba investigates how the goals of a government consolidated in a distant authority materialize in citizens’ everyday lives. Chinese neighborhoods reveal much about the changing nature of governing practices in the country. Government action is driven by the need to preserve social and political stability, but such priorities must adapt to the progressive privatization of urban residential space and an increasingly complex set of societal forces. Tomba’s vivid ethnographic accounts of neighborhood life and politics in Beijing, Shenyang, and Chengdu depict how such local “translation” of government priorities takes place.

Tomba reveals how different clusters of residential space are governed more or less intensely depending on the residents’ social status; how disgruntled communities with high unemployment are still managed with the pastoral strategies typical of the socialist tradition, while high-income neighbors are allowed greater autonomy in exchange for a greater concern for social order. Conflicts are contained by the gated structures of the neighborhoods to prevent systemic challenges to the government, and middle-class lifestyles have become exemplars of a new, responsible form of citizenship. At times of conflict and in daily interactions, the penetration of the state discourse about social stability becomes clear.

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Monique Abud

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

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Deliberating governance in Chinese urban communities

Tang, Beibei. (2015) Deliberating governance in Chinese urban communities. The China Journal, 73 (January 2015), pp. 84-107. URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/679270

This article examines the mechanisms of conflict resolution by public deliberation in Chinese urban residential communities. The analysis focuses on the interactions between three key actors of community life: Residents’ Committees (as the agent of the state), residents, and their representative organizations. Based on empirical data from three types of urban communities, the article finds that deliberation is more effective in communities where the power of Residents’ Committees over residents is weak, and deliberation also works better in communities with strong resident representatives who are able to mobilize information flows and to shape public reasoning. The findings suggest that, on the one hand, the governance structure of Chinese urban residential communities provides space for informal, unstructured public deliberation; on the other hand, deliberation also meets obstacles and dilemmas associated with representation, coordination and fostering understanding across social and economic divisions.

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Monique Abud

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

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Jeremy Wallace on “China’s rush to urbanize”

Johnson, Ian. Q. and A.: Jeremy Wallace on China’s rush to urbanize. The New York Times. Sinosphere. 4 January 2015. URL: http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/q-and-a-jeremy-wallace-on-chinas-rush-to-urbanize/?emc=edit_tnt_20150104&nlid=16428923&tntemail0=y&_r=1 (Retrieved 5 January 2015).

How did you come to write “Cities and Stability”?

I always wondered how China had avoided the slums that seem to dominate the large cities of other developing countries. When I started my research for this book, I heard that China was concerned about “Latin Americanization” — meaning megacities, inequality and instability. At the same time, the government was abolishing agricultural taxes that had been collected in some form for over two and a half millennia. These developments seemed important to understand.

In your book you describe how China escaped the usual social unrest that accompanies preferential policies for cities thanks to its hukou, or household registration, system.

China’s household registration system separates its rural and urban populations. While those born in cities have a local hukou that gives them access to social services, those born in the countryside have a harder time getting access to services when they migrate to cities.

Most poor countries favor cities to promote development and ensure that people living in cities are pro-government. I argue that this kind of “urban bias” might tamp down protests today but also encourages more and more farmers to move to favored cities. These large cities, often full of slums, can explode. Urban protests can quickly overwhelm regimes, even seemingly stable ones like Mubarak’s in Egypt. China’s hukou system is a loophole to this Faustian bargain: favoring urbanites while keeping farmers in the countryside and smaller cities.

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Monique Abud

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

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Invisible migrant enclaves in Chinese cities

Huang, Youqin, Yi Chengdong. (2014) Invisible migrant enclaves in Chinese cities : Underground living in Beijing, China. Urban Studies. Pre-published online, December 22, 2014. DOI: 10.1177/0042098014564535

China is experiencing an urban revolution, powered in part by hundreds of millions of migrant workers. Faced with institutionalised discrimination in the housing system and the lack of housing affordability, migrants have turned to virtually uninhabitable spaces such as basements and civil air defence shelters for housing. With hundreds of thousands of people living in crowded and dark basements, an invisible migrant enclave exists underneath the modern city of Beijing. We argue that in Chinese cities, housing has been adopted as an institution to exclude and marginalise migrants, through: (a) defining migrants as an inferior social class through the Hukou system and denying their rights to entitlements including housing; (b) abnormalising migrants through various derogatory naming and categorisations to legitimise exclusion; and (c) purifying and controlling migrant spaces to achieve exclusion and marginalisation. The forced popularity of basement renting reflects the reality that housing has become an institution of exclusion and marginalisation. It embodies vertical spatial marginalisation, with exacerbated contrasts between basement tenants and urban residents, heightened fear of the ‘other’, even more derogatory naming, and the government’s more aggressive clean-up of their spaces. We call for reforms and policy changes to ensure decent and affordable housing for basement tenants and migrants in general.

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Monique Abud

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

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