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affordable housing II: more on dormitories

Yesterday I was talking with a tourist destination designer from the Tourism Division of OCT. He explained that each themepark hires approximately 1,000 workers who are housed in dedicated buildings in OCT holdings. From the mid-eighties through the mid 90s, these apartments were allocated to single workers in OCT management. However, as they moved into larger apartments, which they bought through housing reform policies, the use of the dormitories changed. As did living densities. Continue reading

affordable housing, thoughts on

Affordable housing is a hot topic in Shenzhen and in fact, the topic is of current interest because one of the utopian impulses at Wutong Island is a proposal to bring back dormitories and cafeterias for single young professionals. Affordable housing also frames debates on the value that urban villages provide the city of Shenzhen. Results from a non-random survey of my friends on the state of dormitory housing in Shenzhen follow. Continue reading

handshake 302 in nyc: describing the economic effects of political decisions

Yesterday I participated in an afternoon workshop and gave an evening lecture on our work at Handshake 302. I learned how “Chinese” my English has become, especially when speaking of Shenzhen society! Continue reading

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seeking alterity

After we left Tantou, we visited several other scenic spots in Kaihua. Beautifully other to Shenzhen’s clogged roads and noisy crowds, these scenes suggested that the gate to an other worldly adventure was just around the bend in the road or nestled snuggly behind a crumbling wall. And yet. Each time we spoke with local residents, they asserted, “There’s nothing here.” In turn, the visitors from Shenzhen responded that this beauty was enough, but the locals remained skeptical; beautiful enough to bring in tourists? Continue reading

self governing trade zone, thoughts from

Speculation about what the 自贸区 (self governing trade zone) continues to shape all sorts of conversations. On Monday I participated in a public planning forum for the OCT, where comparisons between China Merchants in Shekou and Overseas Chinese Town in its eponymous neighborhood, the OCT illuminated contours of Shenzhen’s history. Four ideas of note popped up.

First, that China Merchants (in Shekou) and OCT (in the OCT) have been the two state owned enterprises most responsible for creating the Shenzhen image. During the post 1992 era, many of the images of reform (in terms of built environment) were of the OCT and its neighborhoods, tourist industry, and theme parks. Continue reading

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shekou redux

For those following the shifts in Guangdong structure, you noticed that yesterday Shekou, along with Qianhai, Nansha, and a bit of Zhuhai was designated a self-governing trade zone (自贸区). Inquiring minds want to know: what does that mean? Speculation abounds and adjustments are coming, but there seem to be two key points. Continue reading

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cultural economics 101: how do you find reliable workers in shenzhen?

The expression “a friend is a means of getting something done (一个朋友一条路)” is a concise description of the Shenzhen labor market. It is, of course, also a description of “relationship-ology (关系学), the social art of making full use of one’s relatives, friends and acquaintances. Given the importance of relationships to getting things done in China generally and Shenzhen specifically, relationship-ology manifests in some ugly ways. Nepotism is classic relationship-ology as is the art of making friends through wining, dining and bribing. Nevertheless, having friends help get things done isn’t as coldly instrumental as it sounds. Continue reading