The distribution of villages throughout Shenzhen once afforded opportunities for low capital, small scale businesses to pop up within the urban center. It also meant that workers could find affordable housing within walking distance or short rides to their jobs. In this sense, villages were not simply gateways to the city, but also platforms that gave low-income and working class families economic opportunities that are not available outside the city center.
Ongoing demolition and eviction (拆迁) of villages in Luohu, Futian, and Nanshan are hardening class divisions in Shenzhen; there is a sense in which we don’t need the second line anymore because low-income and working class families can no longer afford to live in the urban center. The irony, of course, is that we’re suddenly in global conversations about “making” in Shenzhen even as those who actually handle “the production end of things” are being pushed into the outer districts. All this to say, the emphasis on “making” obscures the alienation of workers from Shenzhen’s inner districts and shines uncomfortable light on our own class prejudices.
In Shahe Industrial Park, Baishizhou, which is scheduled for demolition beginning May 1, 2016, for example, the design and office businesses have already left and set up shop elsewhere, their used Keurig pods littering the streets. However, those small businesses that rely on place cling tenaciously. Gas delivery services, automobile detailing, mom and pop retail, and garbage sorting have not yet left and one suspects that they will stay as long as they can, even after the eviction deadline; one day of business is one day of business (过一天算一天).
The following pictures were taken on April 17, 2016.