yumin village: changing meanings of “farmer housing”

Just recently got my paws on “The History of Yumin Village (渔民村村史)”. Yumin Village, of course, was the village that Deng Xiaoping visited in 1984, during his first inspection trip to the SEZs. Xi Jinping followed up with a visit in 2012. So yes, this village has played an important symbolic role both in the ideological construction of post-Mao society and in representations of  pre-reform Shenzhen Bao’an County. What struck me as I flipped through the pages was how this transformation can be readily represented in the changing typology of “farmer housing (农民房)”. Continue reading

dachong update

Located west of Baishizhou and east of Shenzhen University and the Shenzhen Science and Technology Park, Dachong was once a large urban village with over 1,200 handshake buildings. It is being redeveloped into an upscale residential area, with office buildings and mall.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to re-visit Baishizhou and get a sense of how the construction is being organized. Of note? A section of handshake buildings have been renovated as temporary housing for Dachong villagers, construction workers and young project administrators. By removing buildings, the developer, China Resources has created an intimate neighborhood with a park, basketball courts, and winding roads as well as a temporary shrine and ancestral hall. Indeed, this repurposing of extant handshakes is not only smart, it also suggests the contours of possible upgrades to extant urban villages, where the selective removal of one or two buildings would open up necessary public space without massive displacements of working class families, migrant workers, and young white collar workers.

Impressions of the temporary handshake neighborhood, below.

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population number games

There are three resident statuses in Shenzhen: Shenzhen hukou, long term residence permit (常住证), and illegal residents or the floating population (流动人口). In turn, these different statuses are reflected in two kinds of population statistics: the long term population (常住人口) and the administrative population (管理人口).  The long term population is divided into those residents with hukou and those with permits. The administrative population refers to the number of renters who have been registered at a local police station. In practice, the difference between the long term and administrative populations provides insight into how large the floating population is.

Here’s the rub: Cities and districts usually only release population statistics, even though the actual population is on record via individual precincts, which report their statistics to the District. In turn, reporting practices vary widely between districts, making it difficult to ascertain how many people actually live and work in a district, let alone in an urban village. Continue reading

The Value of Urban Villages

US American real estate developers chant, “location, location, location.” In Shenzhen, primary locations open for development are actually urban villages slated for old village renovation — redevelopments that involve the final transfer of village held property to the Municipality.

In a Jingbao article on the future of Nanshan District, Li Xiaogan, recently appointed Nanshan District Secretary, noted for example, “In constructing a global district and promoting urban renovation, Nanshan District will have several advantages over the next few years. First, the largest urban renovation project in Guangdong Province – Dachong Urban Village, with a total project area of 683,000 square meters; second, the urban renovation project for the five villages of Baishizhou in Shahe, which is currently being planned, also has an area of over 650,000 square meters, and is again one of the largest in the Province; third, located in the north of the District, the three Shuiyuan villages are within the water conservation and ecological conservation red lines, and are thus relatively backward, however, they are also now in the planning stage of development; forth, the old Xili Market, which we are planning to convert to an urban complex; fifth, the banks of the Shahe River, where we will take international bids to create an ecological cultural corridor, and; six, Nanshan Old City, which with everyone’s support we hope to return to its status as Shenzhen’s historical and cultural root, by resituating all residents and completely rebuilding.”

Recent impressions of Baishizhou, below:

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cui bono? state power, urban village rights, and the vanishing of affordable housing

Recent events in Dachong draw our attention to how news coverage and debate about Shenzhen urban renovation projects focus on conflicts between the real estate developers and urban villages, effectively rendering invisible the growing lack of affordable housing for Shenzhen’s migrant workers.

Shenzhen’s mandatory urban renovation plans benefit developers and the government because villages must negotiate a transfer of land use rights. This means that even though compensation packages enrich villagers, long-term, successful project developers and the municipal government end up making more. In this sense, villager complaints that they have been underpaid have a certain legitimacy.  However, in return for their landuse rights, villagers receive compensation packages that include standardized reimbursement for extant housing, moving costs, and compensation for loss of livelihood. Villagers with multiple holdings and savvy negotiating skills become very rich; published reports indicate that as a result of development, Dachong villagers have joined the ranks of millionaires and several are now billionaires.

Huarun (China Resources)  has been negotiating with Dachong since March 2009. Indeed, banners calling for early decisions to sign transfer contracts were draped throughout Dachong and construction walls have been painted with slogans that sing the benefits of urban village  renovation. A sample — Scientific urban planning, collective transformation; Harmonious renovation, civilized relocation. New Dachong, New Life, New Development.

Nevertheless, as of April 15, there were still ten holdouts. The Dachong Stock Holding Corporation wrote an open letter to those holdouts, asking them to sign contracts immediately. A translation of the letter: Continue reading

statutory planning and opportunistic urbanization

How to interpret the following soundbite?

The spokesman for the Municpal Planning and Land Council stated that through 2010, the City had approved 96 proposals to raze 832.77 hectares and build on 637.08 dedicate hectares, and plans to build 32.77 million square meters of architecture.  市规划国土委有关负责人介绍,截至2010年,全市累计批准拆除重建类改造规划96项,涉及拆除用地面积约832.77公顷,建设用地面积约637.08公顷,规划建筑面积约3277万平方米。 Continue reading