so…. fenghuang city, guangming

Today I went into the very distant reaches of Guangming, to one of the new developments. During the Republican era (and from what I can glean, even earlier), this area was mountainous and had little agriculture. Consequently, in 1958, an Overseas Chinese Farm was set up here, bringing in both productivity and producing for the HK market. At the beginning of Reform and Opening Up they did some manufacturing (Konka and Overseas Chinese Town are both children of this settlement), but the area’s claim to fame remained agriculture, especially milk and roasted pigeon.

Point du jour: as with many parts of Shenzhen that missed the initial manufacturing boom (looking at you Longgang), the area is marketing itself as a high end suburban area. However, its far, far away (over 1.5 hours by subway from Shekou, or 3 hours round trip) and since there are few jobs out there, it’s filled with bedroom communities and empty shopping malls. A few snaps from today’s trip:

Guangming landslide

By now you may have already seen footage of the Guangming landslide, which occurred yesterday at 11:40. The landslide buried twenty-two buildings and has affected 15 businesses. Only one person has been reported dead.

Help for the area is being organized on WeChat and weibo, and the research group reTUMU is also providing virtual updates. In addition, Chinese sites have a lot of information, however, to actually view videos (especially on Soku or Youku), you need to be using a Chinese browser. For those googling information in Chinese, the complete address is: 光明新区凤凰社区恒泰裕工业园. The word for landslide is 山体滑坡。

For those using non-Chinese browsers, this video has been uploaded to youtube:

guangming office: historic questions of translation

Speakers of North American English such as myself often fall into linguistic rabbit holes when reading official Chinese documents. My confusion arises from what both Western Marxists and Chinese Party members might call “historic questions/ problems of translation (翻译的历史问题)”. Thus, although their are semantic overlaps, a city is not a 城市, an office is not a 办公室, a community is not a 社区, and a collective is not a 集体 because the respective geographies of the USA and PRC have been formed through vastly different cultural ecologies and property regimes. Continue reading

cold war guangming

Today, I am trying to figure how to think about a series of historically discrete events that in retrospect clearly aligned the landscapes of Hanoi, Houston, and Shenzhen. Continue reading

neo-confucianist administration in guangming?

Today, I’m translating an open apology from Liao Tianye, a young official in the Guangming New District Management Committee (新区管委会) to his parents. In the letter, Liao Tianye expresses his remorse for abusing his parents. Frankly, the letter seemed to me a strange twist on Shenzhen’s ongoing Neo-confucian propaganda campaign; yes, the Municipality is striving to cultivate Neo-confucian ethics in officials and businessmen. But, public apologies for unfilial behavior? Caught me off guard. More prosaically, I’m wondering at the level of abuse, the context in which “abuse” was identified, and how it came to the attention of the Management Committee. Also, in the ongoing turmoil of Chongqing revelations, I’m also wondering about the political culture of holding meetings for self-criticism, which we all remember was one of the key features of Cultural Revolutionary tactics.

Letter of Regret

First, I want to use this letter to express my deep regret to the parents who raised me under such difficult conditions! To the school that formed me and the work unit that has consistently cared for me, I also apologize for any negative effects from my actions! At the same time, I also sincerely apologize for the emotional pain that my actions have caused the public!

I was born into a farmer household, but lived for many years outside the village to complete my studies. After graduating college, I immediately married and our child is now 9 months old. Pregnancy and birth debilitated my wife’s body and she became depressed. During the day, I went to work and at night I came home and still had to care for our child, exhausting both body and mind. In addition, my parents’ traditional ideas of childcare and my own are very different, and I don’t have enough experience handling family conflicts. Nor was I prepared for the contradictions between wives and mother-in-laws. Together it resulted in disputes with and anger at my parents, leading to serious consequences.

These past days, I have consistently engaged in deep reflection and self-criticism. This event has been a deeply painful life lesson, which also negatively impacted my household, work united and society. I will learn from my mistakes and become a citizen who takes responsibility at work and in society.

I hope that everyone will give me a chance to turn over a new leaf!


shenzhen administrative structure

I’ve been making charts to organize my thinking. Below is an organizational chart of Shenzhen, circa 2010.

Also, a simplified version of the organizational relationship between the Central government and local governments. Guangdong is the provincial local; Shenzhen is a sub-provincial city, however, as an SEZ, Shenzhen has all sorts of legal privileges that provinces and direct cities do not.

New Districts defined!

brief post on shenzhen´s ongoing redistricting because i know what´s ¨new¨ about shenzhen´s two new districts (新区), guangming and pingshan.

shenzhen´s two new districts are not ¨districts¨ in the strict sense of the word, instead they have all the economic power of shenzhen´s other 6 districts, but none of the political power. unlike yantian, luohu, futian, nanshan, longgang and bao´an districts, guangming and pingshan do not have the four administrative organs that define china´s government — the chinese people’s political consultative committee (政协), a district court (区级法院), a district congress (人大), and a procuratorate (检察院). nevertheless, the new districts do have the power to develop and implement economic plans.

if this sounds familiar it´s because this is how shenzhen began — an administrative unit betwixt and between beijing (politics) and guangzhou (economics). in order for guangming and pingshan to become politically viable districts, shenzhen municipality will have to petition the central government to change the government structure. however, that petition may be beside the point if the point is to develop these areas as quickly as possible, especially as many ¨political¨ decisions get framed as ¨economic policy¨ issues. moreover, in keeping with the plans can´t keep up with change ideology that permeates shenzhen decision-making, it may simply be easier to grant economic independence to an area and worry about political independence when and if the time comes.

redistricting – guangming and pingshan xinqu

i try to keep apace of the changes, but alas, shenzhen redistricts and i find out about it after the fact. guangming new district was carved out of baoan and pingshan was carved out of longgang. thus shenzhen now has 8 districts: within the gate (guannei or the old second line, erxian) nanshan, futian, luohu, and yantian; outside the gate (guanwai) baoan, guangming, longgang and pingshan. see map.

this redistricting seems to be a return of the repressed because during the mao years guangming and pingshan were communes. of course, all shenzhen’s districts were once upon a time communes and so the city’s administrative history might be thought of as tweaking and reshuffling extant divisions upon revisions of a traditional world order. more to the point is that this redistricting speaks

  1. to shenzhen’s loosely planned uneven development (some places in shenzhen really are noticeably poorer than others, which is interpreted as intended-by-the-governmenet-to-be poorer than others, thus requiring explicit recognition through the establishment of a new administrative district. first case – yantian) and
  2. to the city’s growth (it really is too big for simple administrative bureaucracy).

a simple point of nomenclature: i don’t understand why guangming and pingshan are “new districts (xinqu)”, rather than districts (qu). it may have something to do with actual rights and responsibilities of the new district government as being distinct from other district governments (in terms of taxation and what not), but i don’t know. or, thinking from the analagy of new villages (xincun versus cun), i hypothesize that new districts are a variation of a past government, with status change and thus the right to transform whole chunks of the political-economy. thus for example, guangming was a zhen within baoan, just as pingshan was a longgang zhen, which were subseequently elevated to neighborhood (jiedao) as part of the 2004 rural urbanization movement. but again and alas, i’m not for sure.

cutting to the chase, i ask: does anyone know the reason for why xinqu rather than a plain and simple qu? please tell.