Throughout 2022, as corona testing has become normalized (常态), testing status and QR codes have increasingly been used to prevent possible political “outbreaks.” The most recent case involved depositors who were unable to withdraw money from their banks in rural Henan. This case broke over a month ago. It concluded several weeks later, when depositors went to provincial capital, Zhengzhou in order to make official complaints. As the depositors converged on Zhengzhou, their health codes turned red, which prevented them from using public transportation, getting rooms in hotels, or entering buildings with strict compliance.Continue reading
Yesterday, April 4, Shenzhen announced that there had been zero new cases of covid in the city. The poster reads: If everyone is their best self, then Shenzhen will definitely succeed! In addition to maintaining basic public sanitation, no large gatherings, which means most commerce isn’t going to pick up anytime soon, especially as its still 2 tests every three days (三天两次 every other day). Middle and high schools are scheduled to reopen on April 8, and they will announce elementary school re-openings then. Possibly next week. But, no gatherings and that’s what people do. Meanwhile, Futian held a gratitude ceremony for volunteers from other districts who came to help manage the crisis (and yes, political crises are crises). They were photographed holding a banner that said, “The people of Futian thank you!” So it looks like Futian is thanking the city, not the volunteers holding the banner. But that’s a personal quibble.
As an aside, yesterday I experienced a twinge of Shanghai envy. Apparently, the neighborhood management office of a large residential estate required residents to sing patriot songs together. Instead, they gathered in their windows and on balconies as scheduled, but collectively shouted, “fuck you neighborhood management (傻B居委会)!” So yes, I wanted to be collectively expressing frustration with zero-Covid policies. Click to view.
Shenzhen’s citywide lockdown has come to an end. Kind of. Last night, there were countdowns to midnight, firecrackers set off at village gates, and then people charging out. I’m not sure where they were going at midnight, in a city that was still primarily closed. But there were thousands celebrating in the streets outside their gates. The expression for this rush is ‘冲鸭,’ which literally translates as ‘charging ducks,’ but translates as ‘go for it.’ In fact, it has been a week of poultry metaphors, as a new phrase on the web is 叮咚鸡 (dingdong ji), which is a pun for the expression ‘wait for further notification’ that ended ever. single. covid announcement. I’m not sure where the expression came from (I’ve seen debates that the original is Cantonese, but no confirmations), however, chickens are running rampant through Shenzhen memes.Continue reading
A great Shenzhen neighborhood brings together several generations and types of housing. There is usually an urban village or two, danwei housing that was built before 2000 (more or less), and a larger mall complex that brings in the subway. When these clusters of different building types are located within walking distance of each other, you end up with a thriving independent food scene, affordable housing for singletons and low-income families, and upscale spaces that provide air-conditioned comfort for a cup of coffee or a cram school.
Among 90s generation immigrants (who are twenty-something or just turned 30), Meilin has become popular because it not only provides a diversity of housing and shopping options, but also because it is centrally located; anyone who lives here is looking at relatively quick commutes to work. Nearby urban villages are also popular among low-income families, who can rent two-bedroom apartments for 3,000-4,000, which is expensive, but doable with two parents working and an elder who watches children.
The popularity of this kind of mixed housing neighborhoods means that Shenzhen doesn’t have enough elementary school places where most families live. Historically, Shenzhen has lacked school places relative to population, but that was managed through hukou. However, since the city has allowed the children of long-term residents to attend elementary and middle school, high-density schooling has increasingly become an issue in the city, especially in neighborhoods like Meilin, where low-income families live.
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:Continue reading
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!
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.Continue reading
Insights into what Futian was before it was the political center of the city.
For the past six months or so, I have been working on a project that illuminates Shenzhen history stop-by-stop along the new metro lines. Line 11 is up and so is the mini encyclopedia. I’ll be putting the pages up over the next week or so. Enjoy!
So, as the Xiasha Kingkey project finishes up, another urban renovation project begins in neighboring Shangsha. Below, impressions of the Xiasha plaza, the Kingkey complex along Binhe Road, and the state of unmaking in Shangsha.