mappy thoughts about “yellow hill”

So, here’s a photograph that confused me for way too long. It pops up on Baidu, when I search “深圳老照片”. It was not immediately apparent to me, however, when and where this landscape existed. And then I stumbled upon a map of Futian Commune and it was like, wow, I get it. Here’s the map:

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rumor has it…about “guanliao”

Here’s a story for a Monday morning: My husband and I recently bought a condo in Dali, where we plan to retire. This past Chinese New Year, we opened the condo, calling the gas company to send someone over to connect our gas line. A team of three people showed up. The best dressed of the group carried a clipboard and explained to us what was happening. One of the electricians set to connecting the line. The third was there to oversee the young man making the connection and insure that he didn’t make any mistakes. The entire process–explaining, connecting, and checking the connection–took about ten minutes. Once they had finished their work, they moved on to the next condo.

I found it ridiculous to send three people to complete the job. However, when I told a 20-something friend this story she half-jokingly responded, “Wow, Dali is really efficient!” She then told me that most government and central enterprises had an even higher ratio of bureaucrats and supervisors to actual workers. At her company, she explained, actual work didn’t start until Wednesday because on Monday mornings top level executives met to decide on the week’s work, Monday afternoons, vice-executives informed managers of their responsibilities, on Tuesday mornings, managers further refined jobs for office heads, and then on Tuesday afternoon, office heads assigned tasks to actual workers. I laughed (as I was supposed to) and then clarified, “You’re exaggerating, right?” And she said, “Not really. There are at least four or five levels of management above my level, where the work actually happens. Even in Shenzhen, it has all become too guanliao.”

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ferrous history

The English and Chinese online introductions to the Steel Structure Museum (深圳中国钢铁博物馆) emphasizes that the history of steel structures is an international story of human progress. The English intro reads: “We are the only museum in China themed steel structure, which is sponsored by CSCEC Science and Industry as an CSR project. Open to the public since May 18 “International Museum Day” of 2017, we narrate the story of steel structure both of China and rest of the world chronologically and in order of technical process, and explain steel structures’ advantages.” The Chinese introduction is a bit more specific but makes the same point: 深圳中国钢结构博物馆是中国唯一以钢结构为主题的博物馆,由中建科工集团有限公司举办。以“行业首创、中国一流”为建馆目标,以历史和科技并重为陈列原则,以实物、模型、图片、文字、多媒体等为展示手段,集收集、展览、研究、教育、交流于一体,融科普性、学术性、趣味性、参与性于一身,旨在让观众了解世界钢结构的发展历程、探寻中国钢结构的崛起之路以及感受钢结构文明的气韵,是建筑科普的重要基地和科技交流的重要平台 (in Chinese).

The museum tracks the use of steel as a sign of human developmental progress, which begins in England, is aestheticized in Paris, flourishes in the US and culminates in China. Important but missing from this march of progress are mentions of Stalin and socialist industrialization via centralized planning and concomitant movements like the Great Leap Forward, where steel was the key (以钢为纲 image below).

Nevertheless, the theme itself is enlightening, especially in the context of global restructuring in the post Cold War era. So, here’s what the museum has me thinking:

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lilong update

Good friend, Jonathan Bach looked up Hilda Nagel, the name on the gravestone in one of the photos from Holy Hill. He found her listed only as the wife of Rev. A. Nagel in a 1910 directory called “List of Protestant Missionaries in China” under the heading for “Basel Missionary Society, Hong Kong, Lilong”. http://divinity-adhoc.library.yale.edu/Resources/Directories/1910_Directory.pdf. He was then able to find the above photo of Rev. A. Nagel titled “Pupils of the Boy’s Boarding School in Lilong (China)” with an annotation “Teacher Tschong, the missionary Nagel, Teacher Tschin”.

Indeed, for those interested in old photos from the Basel Mission, the USC Digital Library International Mission Photography Archive is a fabulous resource.

lilang holy hill

Today is Grave Sweeping Day, so I thought I’d publish something about an historic cemetery–Holy Hill (圣山), which is located in Buji.

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urban flesh and bones is back!

April, May and June, Handshake 302 will be leading tours through the streets and history of Futian Street Office. If you’re in Shenzhen, subscribe to our we chat account to sign-up for a tour!

houhai, impressions of.

I walked from Coastal City to Shenzhen Bay Park via Talent Park. It is a stunning venture, where it is possible to experience the best of what Shenzhen offers–futuristic architecture, sparkling coastline, and expansive skies–without having to deal with the consequences thereof–overbuilding, monopolized waterways, and pollution. Indeed, as in the city’s beautiful parks, this stretch of modern living embodies the goals, aspirations, and ideologies of reform and opening.

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90s futian, or the xiaokang quilt of days gone by…

Not so long ago and not so far away, Futian was known as Shangbu and was considered the rural burbs of up and coming Shenzhen (which was mapped as Luohu-Shangbu). But then (somewhat deus ex machina) Deng Xiaoping appeared in 1992, promising that the experiments would continue. So, during the 1990s, the SEZ boomed and Shenzhen restructured. Old Futian (well, xiaokang Futian), emerged out of all this governmental restructuring and economic booming.

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更新–renewal, 2.0 (or is it 3.0?)

So, I realized the other day that I’ve been walking neighborhoods that have been scheduled for urban renewal without actually posting anything about them. I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve lost track of what iteration of Shenzhen planning we’re on, or if its just that construction sites blur together after awhile. At any rate, photos from a recent walk around Dongmen (东门) and Hubei Ancient Village (湖贝古村).

administrative deterritorialization: where is qianhai located?

I was flitting about the internet and discovered that as of May 19, 2020 the portal for the Qianhai Cooperation Zone had moved [from Shenzhen] to the management platform of the Guangdong Provincial Government, which means that the administrative unification of the Greater Bay Area proceeds and that much of what happens in Qianhai will now have to be approved in Guangzhou. The political ordering is clear on the Chinese site. The official name on the platform is: 广东自由贸易试验区深圳前海蛇口片区前海深港现代服务业合作区, which translates as: Guangdong Free Trade Pilot Zone Shenzhen Qianhai Shekou Zone, Qianhai Shen Kong Modern Service Cooperation Zone. The order of the place names tells us that Guangdong Province is the ultimate authority over Qianhai, and that Qianhai and Shekou are both under Shenzhen. Hong Kong only appears in abbreviated form as part of the cooperation zone in the second part of the name.

What might this mean for Shenzhen and Hong Kong? Thoughts du jour:

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