Two months ago, I walked from the old Bao’an urban center to Shanghe Village. I first walked this area in 2007, taking pictures of a village renewal project, which focused on demolishing and upgrading the old village settlement. The area exemplifies the first generation of formal upgrades that occurred in the mid-2000s, beginning after rural urbanization was completed in 2004–large public spaces, residential towers, and newly constituted rural identities, comprising the village stock-holding limited company, Qing-era ancestral halls and temples. In the background, traces of the village’s manufacturing history are still visible.
However, in comparison with current pictures of the new Shanghe, pictures from the old Shanghe reveal the transition from township and village enterprise urbanization to the area’s current status as a suburb as an aspiration, as intentional restructuring a year before the Asian financial crisis not only brought down so many cities, but also consolidated urbanization as the country’s primary economic motor.