Tag Archives: China

Food safety management in China

Jiehong Zhou (Zhejiang University, China), Shaosheng Jin (Zhejiang University, China) (2013)  Food Safety Management in China. A Perspective from Food Quality Control System. Singapore: World Scientific; Hangzhou: Zhejiang University Press, 2013. xi + 228 pp. ISBN 978-981-4447-75-1  http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/8689#t=aboutBook


Jakob A. Klein (2014). Review of ‘Food Safety Management in China: A Perspective from Food Quality Control System’ The China Quarterly, 217, pp 292-293. doi:10.1017/S0305741014000204.

Jakob A. Klein is lecturer in social anthropology at SOAS, University of London, and deputy chair of the SOAS Food Studies Centre. His publications include “Everyday Approaches to Food Safety in Kunming,” The China Quarterly, No. 214 (2013) and, co-edited with Yuson Jung and Melissa L. Caldwell, Ethical Eating in the Postsocialist and Socialist World (forthcoming, University of California Press).

Abstract of the book

In recent years, China has taken a number of effective measures to strengthen the supervision of food quality and safety, but food safety incidents still occur sometimes. The recurrence and intractability of such incidents suggest that, in addition to the imperfect supervision system, the greatest obstacle to China’s food quality safety management is that China’s “farm to fork” food supply chain has too many stages, the members on the supply chain have not form a stable strategic and cooperative relation, and on the other hand, during the transitional period, some practitioners lack social responsibility. Therefore, China’s food quality safety management and the establishment of food quality and safety traceability system should follow the development trend of international food quality and safety supervision, and should combine with the establishment of China’s agricultural industrialization and standardization, integrate China’s existing but isolated effective measures, such as the establishment of bases for the implementation of the system of claiming certificates or invoices, for the performance of Management Regulations for Pig Slaughtering and Quarantine Inspection in Designated Places, and for the conduct of World Expo, as well as the establishment of market access system, take into consideration the demand, the dynamic mechanism, and the performance of important measures of food supply chain members for food quality and safety control, as well as the difficulties and the deep-seated reasons in the implementation process of such measures.

To this end, this book chooses important agricultural products of vegetables, pork and aquatic products as the subjects investigated. From an “integrated” vertical perspective of the supply chain and according to the degree of industrialization of different products, focusing on the key links of quality and safety control of vegetables, pork and aquatic products, this book carries out empirical analysis of the construction of food quality and safety control system, such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) quality control system and food quality and safety traceability system, deeply analyzes and straightens out the dynamic mechanism and the performance of different business entities implementing the food quality and safety management system, as well as the bottleneck and deep-seated causes of promoting advanced experience of pilot areas and enterprises in China, and put forward ideas and suggestions of establishing long-term effective food quality and safety management system with regard to vegetables, pork, and aquatic products, which can provide scientific basis for the government to design food quality and safety management policies.

Sample Chapter(s)
Chapter 1: Overview of Food Safety Management in China (499 KB)


  • Overview of Food Safety Management in China
  • Safety of Vegetables and the Use of Pesticides by Farmers in China
  • Adoption of Food Safety and Quality Standards by China’s Agricultural Cooperatives
  • Implementation of Food Safety and Quality Standards: A Case Study of the Vegetable Processing Industry in Zhejiang, China
  • Adoption of HACCP System in the Chinese Food Industry: A Comparative Analysis
  • An Empirical Analysis of the Implementation of Vegetable Quality and Safety Traceability Systems Centering on Wholesale Markets
  • Investment in Voluntary Traceability: Analysis of Chinese Hog Slaughterhouses and Processors
  • Quality Perception, Safer Behavior Management and Control of Aquaculture: Experience of Exporting Enterprises of Zhejiang Province, China
  • Outlook for China’s Food Safety Situation and Policy Recommendations

Jacqueline Nivard

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

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Labour Day travel peak

Labour Day travel peak starts

Source: Xinhua
May 1, 2014

PASSENGERS queue to enter the Nanchang Railway Station in Nanchang, capital of east China’s Jiangxi Province. The four-day period of Labor Day travel peak began yesterday. National railways are expected to receive 36,400,000 passengers from yesterday to Saturday. — Xinhua2014-05-01 09:04:14 |

Editor: Zhu Ningzhu

See all the pictures of Labor Day on Xinhuanet


Jacqueline Nivard

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

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Gender inequality in China

19282867Publication of Leta Hong Fincher, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China.  Zed Books, 2014.1

Related links

BBC Video (April 17, 2014)

Impact presenter Lucy Hockings spoke to author Leta Hong Fincher about China’s “Leftover Women” – the state media campaign to label single women above the age of 27 as “leftover” and unwanted. Leta also spoke about the growing inequality gap between men and women in China, especially in property rights.


Interview with Letz Hong Fincher by Yang Shen on LSE Review of Books

(…) According to Fincher, the term ‘leftover woman’ in China ‘is widely used to describe an urban, professional female in her late twenties or older who is still single’ (p.2).

Chapter 1

Fincher examines the leftover women discourse mediated through ‘state media news reports, surveys, columns, cartoons and television shows’ (p.15), and argues that two reasons account for the state promoting the leftover women discourse: one is to maintain social stability in the context of the persisting sex ratio imbalance – China has 32million more men aged under 20 than women – that prevents a lot of men from finding wives; the other is to upgrade the ‘quality’ of the populace by urging well-educated women to marry. It is an insightful observation indeed that the state serves as a latent driver, disseminating this stigmatizing ‘leftover’ women discourse, which arguably has a profound impact on unmarried women over the age of 25.

Chapter 2

considers how Chinese women have been ‘shut out of arguably the biggest accumulation of residential real-estate wealth in history’ because the pressure they experience in trying to avoid becoming ‘leftover’ means that they often ‘give up too much bargaining power within the marriage’ (p.12). Chapter 3 further deals with how ‘many parents discriminate against their own daughters by buying expensive homes for their sons only’, leading to a gendered wealth gap in house buying.

Chapter 5 and 6

The book is written in an accessible style, allowing general readers access to the subject. It also adopts an inclusive approach in that it covers a wide range of issues in relation to women’s property rights, including the rights of LGBT groups in Chapter 3 and Chapter 6, and the relationship between domestic abuse and women’s lack of property rights in Chapter 5. These issues are rarely discussed together when considering gender inequality in China, so the author is to be congratulated for this effort.

However, I did find that in places the evidence provided is insufficient to support the arguments presented. For example, readers are introduced to a female informant who has a university degree but left her job because ‘she wanted to make herself a more attractive marriage candidate, less intimidating to suitors’. She is quoted as saying “my most important duty is to find a good man to marry” (p.39). The author analyses the case by noting that ‘the state media campaign regarding “leftover” women has prompted some highly educated women to quit their jobs even before they get married’ (p.39). Aside from questioning how rare this case is, I find a lack of coherence between the analysis and the quotes as the informant did not explicitly suggest that she was influenced by the ‘leftover’ discourse.

The imprecision in analysis can also be identified in Chapter 3. The author reveals that the informant Shang got married because she believed that she was getting older. The author links her anxiety with ‘the “leftover” women age threshold’ (p.107). Again, the informant did not specify the connection between her anxiety and the prescribed age of ‘leftover’ women advocated by the state media. By adopting the ‘leftover’ women discourse in a one-size-fits-all fashion, it can be argued that the author not only exaggerates the influence that the ‘leftover’ discourse imposes on women, but also ignores the intricate complexity of the reasons for their anxiety. It is not difficult to recognise that unmarried women’s anxiety around their increasing age existed before the emergence of the ‘leftover’ women discourse, and furthermore that it is seen in other countries where the ‘leftover’ women discourse does not exist.

The author cites a remarkable amount of online sources to support her argument, showing engagement with a variety of sources. However Fincher doesn’t acknowledge that they may not be completely trustworthy. In Chapter 2, the author cites the 2012 Horizon and iFeng.com Report, noting that women’s names were endorsed on only 30 per cent of marital home deals (p.46). First, there are perhaps questions as to the credibility of the report, as it did not suggest how many informants were involved, nor how the survey was conducted. Furthermore, it is a pity that the author did not mention the trend indicated by the report, of a 10.2% increase in the number of women’s names on home deeds compared to the time prior to 2006, which can be interpreted as women’s rising power in property rights. (…)

Read the full text of the review

Interview with Mei Fang on ChinaFile

The three-plus decades since the inception of the ‘one child’ policy have resulted in a huge female shortage in China. The country is now seriously unbalanced, with 18 million more boys than girls. By 2020, there will be some 30 million surplus men in China, a condition some demographers call—in all seriousness—a male bulge.

The laws of supply and demand, which armchair social scientists seem to apply to this situation with abandon, China’s women should have the upper hand.

Former journalist and sociologist Leta Hong Fincher disagrees.

“There’s very little evidence that urban women have turned their scarcity into economic gain,” she writes in Leftover Women, the result of three years voluminous research towards a Ph.D. at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University, which will be released on May 1 in the United States by Zed Books.

Hong Fincher presents compelling evidence women’s rights in China have seriously regressed since Mao Zedong proclaimed, “Women hold up half the sky.”

Hong Fincher makes her claims based on two major factors: an insidious state-backed media campaign designed to hurry single urban women to the altar, and a combination of legal restrictions and cultural norms that keep all but a few women from being listed on property ownership deeds.

Citing a 2012 survey by research group Horizon China, Hong Fincher notes only 30% of marital home deeds in China’s top cities include women’s names, even though more than 70% of women contribute to purchases. This, of course, leaves women in a vulnerable position in cases of divorce and the division of marital property.

In 2011, the issue became more contentious when China’s Supreme Court issued a new interpretation of the country’s Marriage Law, specifying that unless legally contested, marital property belongs to the person listed on the property deed—which, Hong Fincher notes, is almost always the husband.

As a result, Hong Fincher contends, Chinese women have missed out on China’s huge property boom that began within the last decade, “arguably the biggest accumulation of residential real-estate wealth in history,” worth U.S.$27 trillion, she estimates.

Read the text of the interview of  Hong Fincher by Mei Fong

  1. See also Leta Hong Fisher, China’s ‘Leftover’ Women October 11, 2012 New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/opinion/global/chinas-leftover-women.html?_r=0 []

Jacqueline Nivard

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

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Two management models in Chinese municipalities

Dorothy J. Solinger (2013), Social assistance under capitalist, authoritarian rule: Two management models In Chinese municipalities, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Jan. 2014,
Published version from Taylor & Francis Online (restricted access) DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2013.871057. (restricted access)

This study uses a micro set of Chinese city-level data to understand the varying choices taken by municipal officials in their distribution of a minimum livelihood scheme. It explores the variation in the apportionment of allowances offered to disparate types of poor groups in poor versus wealthy cities. The paper argues that in China, where profits, modernisation, competition and globalisation have become significant to leaders at all levels, there is a logic undergirding welfare allocation that has nothing to do with the calculus that spurs its delivery in democracies, and yet that is more nuanced than stylised models of dictatorship/authoritarianism presume. The paper also demonstrates that, where lower echelons of governmental administration have the authority to make rules about the rationing of social assistance, urban finances appear to have an impact upon (or at least to correlate with) administrators’ allocational decisions to groups among the poor. This influence of municipal financial health is exerted directly in the case of poor places, by enticing officials to attempt to save on funds; it also seems to operate indirectly in wealthier municipalities, by disposing richer cities’ authorities to design their urban areas as showcases, in the hope of attracting tourism and foreign investment.

 Related links

Posts by Monique Abud on UrbaChina

Jacqueline Nivard

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

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The search for sustainable legitimacy

Wang, Alex (2013). The search for sustainable legitimacy: environmental law and bureaucracy in China. Harvard Environmental Law Review, 9 May, 365-440. (“UCLA Public Law & Legal Theory Series”).

During China’s 11th five-year plan (2006-11), bureaucrats began to take substantial actions on environmental protection, making major investments in pollution control infrastructure andBeijing_photo forcing the shutdown of thousands of outdated facilities and  production lines. This was not accomplished through meaningful reform of a notoriously weak  environmental law regime. Rather, Chinese authorities turned to cadre evaluation — the system for top-down bureaucratic personnel assessments — to set high-priority, quantitative environmental targets  designed to mobilize governors, mayors, and state-owned enterprise leaders in every corner of China’s massive bureaucracy.

While conventional analysis has primarily viewed this effort through the lens of environmental  protection, this article argues that “environmental cadre evaluation” is better understood as something more fundamental. Chinese authorities have embraced environmental cadre evaluation as a tool for limiting risks to the party-state’s hold on power, using environmental protection in an unexpected way to deliver economic growth and social stability. Environmental objectives have been elevated, but primarily to the extent they support these other values as well.

But implementation problems inherent to this top-down approach abound. Local agents falsify   information and shut down pollution control equipment. Closed factories are secretly reopened. These problems create an imperative for reform. Of the initiatives already under way, governance reforms that strengthen public supervision have particular advantages forresolving institutional pathologies that limit the effectiveness of China’s environmental efforts.

Monique Abud

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

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The US and China should focus on air pollution to tackle climate change

Zhang, Junjie. Why the US and China should focus on air pollution to tackle climate change. Asia Blog, 6 March, 2014. Retrieved 11 March, 2014, from http://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-us-and-china-should-focus-air-pollution-tackle-climate-change

The U.S. and China, the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs), are seeking common ground for climate action. During his China trip in February, Secretary of State John Kerry signed the U.S.-China Joint Statement on Climate Change, which pledges to devote resources to “secure concrete results” by the 2014 U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue. While there is no shortage of ideas about what the bilateral climate collaboration might address, the challenge is to identify a focal issue that is economically beneficial and politically viable for both countries.

Neither China nor the U.S. has shown a willingness to take measures that will reduce GHG emissions if there are economic costs attached. On the Chinese side, GDP growth remains a top priority, and political leaders are reluctant to sacrifice GDP growth in order to reduce GHG emissions. In addition, GHG emissions are not a known indicator in China’s cadre performance appraisal system, which partly determines the career advancement of government officials. Such officials have no immediate incentive to make decisions aimed at limiting carbon emissions. In the United States, proposed laws and regulations to limit GHG emissions or put a price on carbon have repeatedly been turned back because of concerns over their impact on the economy.

Cooperation on climate change is most likely to occur in an area associated with positive economic, health, and social impacts. The nexus between climate change and air pollution represents an area in which the U.S. and China can create a host of benefits that should appeal to leaders and key constituencies.

Read the full story on Asia Blog


Monique Abud

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

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Willingness to pay for the “Green Food” in China

Yu, Xiaohua, Zhifeng Gao, Yinchu Zeng (2014). Willingness to pay for the “Green Food” in China. Food Policy, 45, April, p.80-87. Prepublished February, 13, 2014, DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2014.01.003

Traditional market in Kunming, Gipouloux François

With use of payment card survey data of willingness to pay (WTP) for the “Green Food”, a unique food certification in China, this study finds that age and income are important for the WTP for the Green Food in China. There are structural differences in consumer preference for Green Food between the large city and the small county. Consumers in China, on average, are willing to pay 47% more for Green vegetables and 40% more for Green meat than for their conventional counterparts.

Read full text on Science Direct [restricted access]

Monique Abud

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

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China’s urban housing demolition

Cheuk Yuet Ho1, 2013, Exit, or evict: Re-grounding rights in needs in China’s urban housing demolition, Asian Anthropology, Vol.12, No.2, 141–155.

This report depicts narratives of individuals defying eviction orders in urban neighborhood dwellings in Chongqing, China. Resisting households are called “nail
householders;” their rationales and subjectivities in resisting demolition foreground a social and ideological regime change increasingly tuned to private property rights’
centrality. I address the primacy of “need” as a defining feature of both communism and socialism, and its practical and theoretical bearing on legitimizing neosocialist
governance.I argue that an objective diagnosis in reclaiming the significance of need’s due place in history and the present social reality is imperative for an accurate
ethnographic reading of how ordinary Chinese people practice their rights in an era of property dispossession and counter-dispossession.

Read the full text article http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/1683478X.2013.845330

Cheuk Yuet Ho, 2013, Bargaining demolition in China: A practice of distrust, Critique of Anthropology, Vol. 33 no. 4 412-428.

This paper presents multivocal exchanges between evictees and frontline demolition personnel regarding urban housing demolition in China. I discovered that evictees and evictors alike stick to the official rules but contest vigorously the interpretation, each in accordance with their tacit understanding of the norm of practising demolition and particular tactics of bending the rules of compensation. This paper provides a detailed, rarely available ethnographic record of the encounters between evictees and evictors, and contributes to the study of how agents strategise and interact within a habitus of micro-power relationships. It is concluded that the agency of various players is simultaneously reproducing the social structure but paradoxically working to sabotage the very structure within which they practice.

Read the full text article http://coa.sagepub.com/content/33/4/412.full.pdf+html


  1. University of Cambridge, UK []

Jacqueline Nivard

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

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China: tradition and modernity



20-22 February 2014


Lisbon, Portugal


Name: Instituto Português de Sinologia

E-mail: ipsinologiagmailcom

Details: The Organizing Committee of the Instituto Português de Sinologia
ISCSP – Pólo Universitário da Ajuda, gab. 40, piso 2
Tel: 213 619 430 (ext: 453074)
Fax: 213 619 442

Topic details

Geocultural area(s): China

Discipline(s): Economics, Philology, Sociology


China is a huge country with a history stretching over millennia. An immeasurable number of its customs and values have lasted down the ages, surviving the impact of successive waves of modernity that have assailed it. Some of the old values came down to us often confused with habits or traditions. And so it is that, with every aspect of contemporary Chinese society being deeply rooted in tradition, the country is at the same time experiencing a period of increasing creativity.

Tradition and modernity are in fact complementary, and together they may represent socio-cultural equilibrium. With the theme ‘China: Tradition and Modernity’, the 9th International Sinology Forum will address the various contemporaneities of this extraordinary country, looking at their philosophical, cultural, economic and social facets.

This topic should be approached by communications through the following items:

  • Tradition in modernity: how, despite modernization, the Chinese people have managed to keep certain traditions in their daily lives, their ways of thinking, their rituals, festivals, etc.;
  • The Consumption of tradition and the commodification of the past;
  • The attraction of the West and the influence of western philosophy on Chinese tradition;
  • Neo-Confucianism and the re-engagement with tradition;
  • Economic modernization, the reformulation of Chinese traditional economic structures and the subsequent shifts in social stratification;
  • The continuity of traditional visual and performative arts and the new artistic panorama;
  • The continuity of literary traditions and the new literary panorama;
  • Myths, Heroes, Icons and Modernity;
  • Tradition and modernity in urban spaces (architecture, public art);
  • Local Development and Heritage.

The organising committee informs :

  1. The 9th International Sinology Forum will be held in Leiria (Escola Superior de Educação e Ciências Sociais, Instituto Politécnico de Leiria).
  2. Later on, more information will be provided about parallel activities to the conference.

Finally, note that the Portuguese Institute of Sinology offers free registration.

Aurélia Martin

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

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Panel on urban mutation in China


25 January 2014, 4.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.


BnF François-Mittérand, Paris


Presented and hosted by Françoise Ged, Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine. The panelists are:

  • Pierre Haski, co-founder of Rue89 and former correspondant for Libération in Beijing,
  • Bruno Jean Hubert, architect at Hubert & Roy Architectes and professor at the École nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris-Malaquais,
  • Hu Jiani, architect, studying for a DSA at the École de Chaillot,
  • Lu Ning, accociate architect, Building for Climate, Architecture Urbanisme et Etudes Environmentales,
  • Jean-Louis Rocca, research director at the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales (CERI), Sciences Po-CNRS and tenured professor at the Institut d’études politiques, Paris.

Admission is free, without prior reservation, within the number of places available.

For more information please consult the BnF website (French).

Aurélia Martin

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

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Call for papers: Conference on the Socio-Economic Transition of China

Conference on the Socio-Economic Transition of China : Opportunities and threats


April 3 – 6, 2014

Conference venue

The Art Centre (Konvikt), Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic


  • EU project CHINET
  • Department of Asian Studies, Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic
  • Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Keynote speaker

Professor Jonathan Unger, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Conference theme

In recent decades, the world has witnessed the enormous economic, social, cultural and political development of China. As the most populous country in the world, China’s transition process influences directly one fifth of the world’s population and indirectly almost all the rest of the world. Chinese economic activities cover the whole globe, Chinese living overseas constitute the largest diaspora, and China’s political and economic influence is significant. On the other hand, China and its government face many challenges, as Chinese society as well as the environment are affected by these massive processes. The conference theme is focused on the opportunities and potential threats China faces or will face in the near future.

We are seeking research presentations (20-30 minutes’ duration) or session proposals, which relate to these broad themes.


For sessions and paper abstracts: 31st January 2014

More information on the conference website

Monique Abud

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

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Call for papers: New European Research on Contemporary China


2-4 July, 2014


Beijing (Delegation of the European Union to China)

Deadline for submission

15 February 2014


Ms. Miriam Yang, cefc@cefc.com.hk

This conference aims to bring together doctoral candidates, post-doctoral researchers and recent PhDs based in China, either European nationals or affiliated with European research institutions, in order to produce an overview of the emerging problematics in Chinese studies. The focus of the conference is on contemporary China, in a multi-disciplinary social science perspective.

Along with the growing exchanges between China and Europe, the number of European doctoral candidates and recent PhDs in humanities and social sciences doing research in and studying China has increased; many young Chinese scholars also choose to bring their expertise on contemporary China to European academic institutions. They all represent the future of European research on contemporary China. The main purpose of this Conference held for the second time in Beijing is to provide a forum for these young researchers at the European level and in China. The success of the first edition held in 2012 which gathered 50 young researchers from 15 countries (selected among 130 applicants) confirmed the necessity to provide such a forum for reflection and discussion. The Conference will be an occasion to facilitate exchanges on common research subjects, compare perspectives and methodologies, and promote interdisciplinary dialogue. By providing a space for debate and reflection, the Conference intends to contribute to the emergence of more diverse theoretical approaches on the subject. It will enable the participants not only to expand their network and broaden their horizon, but also to take part in the construction of European research networks and promote China-Europe dialogue.


  • French Center for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) and Sino-French Academic Center (CFC, Tsinghua University)
  • EURAXESS Links China

Supported by

  • Delegation of the European Union to China
  • European Center for China Studies (ECCS), Peking University
  • Heinrich-Böll Foundation
  • Think in China

Who can apply?

The Conference is designed for doctoral candidates and recent PhDs in humanities and social sciences currently in China or planning to be in China in the summer of 2014, either European nationals or affiliated with a European university or research institute, regardless of nationality. Among the different disciplines that will be considered: anthropology, law, economics, geography, history, literature, international relations, political sciences and sociology.

Practical arrangements

The conference will sponsor domestic travel within China and accommodation in Beijing for selected participants; however, no funding is available for international travel.

Registration details and schedule

  1. A paper title and abstract (up to 20 lines) in English is to be sent by 15 February 2014 to Ms. Miriam Yang: cefc@cefc.com.hk.
  2. The selected participants will be notified by 15 April 2014.
  3. The final papers (up to 8000 words) should be sent by 31 May 2014.
  4. Selected papers may be published in the journal China Perspectives/ Perspectives chinoises.

For more information.

Aurélia Martin

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

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Urban systems in China and India

Elfie Swerts (e-mail) defended her thesis entitled “Urban systems in China and India” on 25 October 2013, prepared at Pantheon-Sorbonne University (Paris I) and at the Ecole Doctorale de Géographie of Paris, under the supervision of Denise Pumain (Professor at Pantheon-Sorbonne University, UMR* 8504 Géographie-cités) and Eric Denis (Research assistant at the CNRS, UMR 8504 Géographie-cités), with the support of Veolia Environnement Recherche et Innovation and ERC GeoDiverCity (led by Denise Pumain).

She received the highest honour from the jury : “mention très honorable avec félicitation du jury à l’unanimité” (very honourable with the congratulation of the jury). The jury members were:

  • Anne Bretagnolle, Professor at Paris I University, president
  • Eric Denis, Research assistant at the CNRS, thesis supervisor
  • François Gipouloux, Director of Research at the CNRS, Director UMR 8173 China, Korea, Japan, examiner
  • Frédéric LANDY, Professor at Paris Ouest-Nanterre University, honorary membre of the Institut Universitaire de France, rapporteur
  • Denise Pumain, Professor at Paris I University, membre of the Institut Universitaire de France, thesis supervisor
  • Céline Rozenblat, Associate professor at the Université de Lausanne, rapporteur

Elfie Swerts will continue her research on retrospective and prospective modelling of the demographic evolution of urban systems in India and China within ERC GeoDiverCity, and on the economic ties between the cities of these two systems and the rest of the world within the framework of the ORBIS project, led by Céline Rozenblat. She will also refine her research by delving deeper into the question of small town dynamics in India, collaborating with ANR SUBURBIN, led by Eric Denis and Marie-Hélène Zerah (Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi), and the question of financial dynamics and real estate trends in urban systems in India and China, collaborating with ANR FINURBASIE, led by Natacha Aveline (Director of Research CNRS, UMR 8504 Géographie-cités) and Ludovic Halbert (CNRS researcher, attached to the Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires, Sociétés of Val de Marne University).


This thesis compares the urban systems in China and India using dedicated data bases that have been constructed using comparable and harmonized principles, describing the evolution of the population of all urban agglomerations above 10 000 inhabitants, every ten years from the beginning of 20th century for India and 1964 for China. Both very large countries of ancient urbanization are characterized by many small towns and have developed gigantic metropolises during the last decades.

Despite their geo-historical specific features, these two systems share with others in the world the same properties of hierarchical differentiation and urban growth processes (Zipf’s law and Gibrat’s model), at country scale as well as for regional subsystems. A regional diversity is linked to former processes of unequal concentration of urban development.

The most interesting result is identifying for the first time a reverse trend in the evolution of the Chinese urban hierarchy compared to other countries in the world among which India: despite the very rapid recent urban growth, the inequalities in city sizes are decreasing. This may in part depend of the under-registration of migrant urban populations. It also reveals the power of the political control on China’s urban processes that also appears in the magnitude of spatial concentration of manufacturing cities due to the implantation of Special economic Zones.

Comparing the trajectories of Indian and Chinese cities may well improve the prospect of global urbanization that is crucial for the world and the planet.

*UMR: Joint Research Unit

Aurélia Martin

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

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Constraints on health and health services access of rural-to-urban migrants in China: a case of Dengcun village of Beijing

Li, Yan (2010), Constraints on health and health services access of rural-to-urban migrants in China: a case of Dengcun village of Beijing. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.  (accessed 28 October 2013)

China is experiencing a dramatically increasing process of rural-urban migration, which is almost parallel with the phenomenal economic growth and development in China in the last decades. Given the massive scale of rural-urban migration in China, the health services access and health constraints not only matter to rural-urban migrants but also have important implications for broad public health concerns. However, this issue has not been paid enough attention in academic research.
This study focuses on the multifaceted reality of health constraints and health services access among migrants by originally exploring the social strata, social networks, and the understanding of health and health services among migrants. The research questions are stated as follows: What constraints and difficulties do migrants face with respect to their health and health services access? Is there a hierarchical structure in health services access and medical treatment access among migrants? When there is a shortage of financial resources, do they resort to informal social support (such as informal social networks/ guanxi) to obtain help and why? What are their understanding and experience of health and why?
Furthermore, this study investigates the health constraints and health services access of rural-urban migrants in the absence of equal social protection by the government. By conducting 36 qualitative interviews in Dengcun Village, a migrant community in Beijing, China, this paper:

  1. Investigates issues concerning environmental health risks of migrants, their health seeking behaviours, and the constraints they encountered in accessing health services with respect to the social strata among migrants. It argues that the main obstacles to access health services are not only the shortage of financial resources among rural-urban migrants, but also lie in the institutional blindness regarding health security provision, rural-urban dualism and the household registration system in China.
  2. Highlights the key function that social networks play in health and health services access among migrants in China, which has rarely been discussed in previous studies. Examines the range of social networks among migrants, from which they can acquire support, including financial and spiritual, when they are dealing with health problems. The study argues that social networks resemble a double-edged sword to rural-urban migrants in terms of health care access. The fact that migrants lack savings may not be the sole and essential reason for their extreme vulnerability in times of illness. Some migrants, who are in financial difficulties though, may have some assistance, including financial support and emotional support from their social networks. However, on the other hand, the assistance from social networks on their health and heath care access is limited, not only because their social networks is limited, but because the social networks should not bear the responsibility to support health services access of migrants, similar to or more than the state and migrants’ employers.
  3. Discusses the understanding of health among migrants, and further analyses that although many migrants have not formed proper understanding of the connotation of health and have limited knowledge of health, prime responsibility should not be put on the migrants because their poor understanding of health mainly results from their rural perspective while health and health services access depend on the social-economic environment in which they live and work.

Full text available on line : http://etheses.nottingham.ac.uk/3135/1/537813.pdf

Other publication by Li, Yan

“Understanding Health Constraints Among Rural-to-Urban Migrants in China.” Qualitative health research 23.11 (2013): 1459-1469.


Léa Daures

Léa Daures, historian and student at the Ecole des Bibliothécaires Documentalistes (School for Librarians and Information Professions, http://www.ebd.fr), works part-time at the UMR China Korea Japan. She is currently monitoring information online on the subject of migrants in China for UrbaChina.

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Ecologie & politique 47 – Today’s political ecology in China

Écologie & politique 47, Les écologies politiques aujourd’hui (5) Chine (2013). Coordination: Jean-Paul Maréchal. Paris: Presse de Sciences Po


After thirty years of the economy growing at almost 10% per year, China is now faced with the challenge of environmental limits. Lakes, streams, the air, the soil are all affected. This degradation has sparked sometimes violent demonstrations from the people concerned, already in the tens of thousands every year. This report discusses how the environmental issue is making its way in the civil society and spheres of government of the Middle Kingdom.

Political Ecology in China [p.17]

Jean-Paul Maréchal

Summary – The purpose of this article is to highlight how three decades of sustained growth have resulted in a massive deterioration of the environment in China. The severity of pollution has lead to social discontent, which threatens the government’s legitimacy. Thus, a number of measures have been taken by the government to address the issue, but, given the scale of the challenge, these cannot yield results in the short term.

The Green Awakening of Chinese Society? [p.27]

Marie-Hélène Schwoob

Abstract – China’s current political transition raises questions about which path should the new leadership take in the process of reshaping relationships between the State and society. This evolution is made necessary by the moving frontiers of roles played by stakeholders, particularly in the field of environmental protection: from limited circles of environmental activism, encouraged as well as controlled by the government since the 1990s, the civil society is today moving towards more independent ways of demonstrating its environmental awareness, as recent events have shown. However, even after the fall of Bo Xilai—which led people to believe in a “victory” of the Guangdong’s liberalist model—vigorous debates opposing claims for reform and resilient conservatism are still taking place in China.

Nature Bursts into Canton. NGOs, State and Global Norms [p.39]

Monique Selim

Abstract – This article seeks to analyze the representations of nature and the practices related to these representations in contemporary China. It is based on an anthropological research conducted in Guangzhou, capital of the Guangdong province, a city rather opened to outside influences due to its proximity with Hong Kong and therefore rather less affected by the control of the party-state than the rest of the country. The author shows how small groups of environmentalists appear, and study the political relations that develop from this new tropism. Between the control of the party-state and the subversive logic that underlie the very idea of nature conservation, a very diverse rank of attitudes and conceptions showing the entrance of China into a global world can be grasped.

Ecology, Confucius and Democracy. A Critical Analysis of Chinese Rhetoric of « Ecological Civilization » [p.51]

Gwennaël Gaffric and Jean-Yves Heurtebise

Abstract – In the last past years, the catch-phrase “ecological civilization” flourished in China and became widely used by both academic and politicians. This article aims at addressing the underlying (philosophical and political) reasons of its growing use. We contend that this notion, based on a culturalist and nationalist interpretation of “traditional Chinese thought” (presented as the very antidote to “Western thought”), plays an instrumental role in China’s discursive strategy of power consisting in using Chinese philosophical textual tradition to support national and international interests. This paper’s goal is to critically analyze this discourse in order to rethink the fundamental relationship between ecopolitics and democracy.

Environmental Justice as Fairness. The Politicization of Environmental Conflicts in the Popular Republic of China [p.63]

Richard Balme

Abstract – This paper explores developments in environmental policy-making in China under the angle of environmental justice. While the extent of environmental damages and their social impacts are relatively well known, the political implications of environmental conflicts are less documented. The paper shows that the developments of legislation, collective action, public participation and litigation, served as converging factors to allow for some significant improvements in environmental policy-making procedures over the last decade. Although these innovation remained local, and far from reversing the general state of the environment in China, they introduced significant changes in the patterns of interaction among relevant policy stakeholders.

China’s Policy Responses to Climate Change [p.77]

Giulia C. Romano

Abstract – In the global warming issue, China now covers the record of the first world polluter. Moreover, by far the country has shown a reticent attitude towards the possibility of engaging in an international accord stipulating concrete targets for emissions reduction. But how could we explain the partial change occurred in Durban, where China finally accepted the EU-proposed “platform?” We try to answer this question by observing the internal context and asking another preliminary question: has China adopted a climate change policy? The answer seems to be positive.

The Challenge for China of Building a New Global Climate Regime [p.89]

Jean-Paul Maréchal

Abstract – This article evaluates China’s contribution to the global warming phenomenon and the role she can be expected to play in the future. It also analyzes Beijing’s attitude in the international negotiations concerning global climate change, in order to understand the difficulties to conceive and implement a “post-Kyoto” climate regime.

China and Green Technologies: A New Kind of Security Dilemma? [p.103]

Emmanuel Meneut

Abstract – The pollution and the high Chinese level of emitted greenhouse gas are a challenge for the Communist Party and the Chinese political regime. The internal challenge is coming from the consequences of pollution on the population and the large discontent it fuels. The external challenge is due to the international stage position of the first greenhouse gas producer and the second GDP of the world economy. This major challenge requires a structural change of the energy production and consumption of the country. As a consequence, China became one of the main actors of the energy transition through its two last five-year plans. The huge investment level in clean tech energy conversion chains is the translation of the Chinese political will. This situation creates tensions with Western countries.

For more information,see the official Écologie & Politique website (French).

Aurélia Martin

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

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