baoan district: new and improving

rubble, baoan district

yang qian teaches acting to dance students at the baoan district art center; saturday i went with him. while he taught, i tracked new and improving baoan, which lives very differently from “shenzhen”, or the area that is still technically the sez, even though the second line no longer functions. basically, the district is razing the remnants of factory areas and old villages, to be replaced by upscale housing developments. pictures of the rubble, here.

海田路: rough edges


haitian road (海田路) is one of the short, but not narrow roads that run north-south (perpendicular to shennan road) within the expanding city center. with the completion of the new city hall, library, concert hall, as well as much of the environmental landscape around the city center, nearby construction has begun to smooth out the rough edges, those remnants of previous development. of course, many of the tall office buildings on nearby shennan road have been completed as have nearby residential areas. few rough edges remain.

sometimes i feel like i’m doing salvage anthropology of disappearing factory districts in shenzhen. sometimes, it seems like i’m simply trying to keep up with the change. sometimes, i just want to remember where i’ve been, when those places just keep vanishing. what happens to memory when nothing remains as it was? not that it was what i thought, but those buildings nevertheless anchored my thinking, placed limits on what might otherwise drift away. and then where would i be? while walking from the city center toward tianmian, i happened to walk down a bit of haitian road and took 4 pictures of razed buildings, which now form the protective wall around a new construction site. i have an idea of what used to be here, but can’t say for certain.

南油文化广场:urban facelife, rural fairs

nanyou cultural plaza

the nanyou cultural plaza, like most shenzhen cultural centers was built to promote high culture. however nanyou, like most shenzhen governments doesn’t actually budget all that much money for cultural production, instead requiring that center or plaza administrators capitalize on the space to keep it running. most cultural centers have achieved this by showing movies and renting space for cultural consumption (weiqi clubs, dance lessons, and martial arts instruction, for example).

the success of a cultural center depends on access–in all senses of the word–to the center. many village level cultural centers are in fact quite active because they not only target their cultural production to villagers and migrant workers, who (as rural people) share similar cultural tastes, but also are located within walking distance of most of their patrons. in contrast, street level centers, like nanyou, have to mediate between rural and urban tastes, which don’t really overlap, making it difficult to build a cultural community. consequently, these centers depend upon public transportation and private cars to bring their patrons to them.

the construction of the western corridor bridge has compounded nanyou’s economic difficulties because the street in front of the plaza has been under construction for over two years now. although the nanyou cultural plaza continues to screen movies, the entire space has been rented out to mom and pop vendors, who have transformed the space into a market for the many migrant workers who live nearby.

about five years ago, the area around nanyou was a thriving restaurant district that catered to urban white-collar workers. most of those restaurants (including macdonald’s) have moved out, replaced by small eateries and street level grills. five years ago, there were also villas and upscale residential complexes in this area. these are now being rebuilt, in anticipation of the opening of the western corridor bridge, when nanyou will again and perhaps as suddenly change character, becoming prime real estate for those commuting from western shenzhen to hong kong.

for a sense of how migrant workers occupy shenzhen spaces, please visit nanyou.

improvements, again

temporary roadblock, nanyou

just when i thought it was safe to wear sandals, shenzhen embarked on a project to upgrade city sidewalks, ripping up roads that had been set only a few years previously. so once again, as the city improves its image, we pick our way through rubble and bricks, dust and exposed sewage pipes. a few photo-gripes here.


detail, incense burner, julong village

addresses in chinese read from the largest to the smallest unit. last week, for example, i went to guangdong province, dongguan city, wangniudun township, julong village (广东省东莞市望牛顿镇聚龙村). in terms of the use and organization of the built environment, this administrative hierarchy takes clear form. my trip began at the shenzhen city, luohu bus station, transvessed guangdong’s elaborate (and still expanding) highway network, passed through dongguan city center, and stoped on niuwangdun’s main street, which is narrower and less built up than downtown dongguan, which in turn, is less densely built than is downtown shenzhen, where the journey began. this pattern of narrower streets, shorter buildings, and fewer cars continued with each stage of the journey. from main street, niuwangdun toward julong village, for example, i walked on a main street of four lanes, turned onto a two lane street, stepped onto the one lane street that bordered the julong river, and then turned into a gated alley wide enough to accomodate motorbikes and pedestrians.

in addition to reiterating administrave ranking (provinces administer cities, which administer townships, which administer villages), chinese addresses also tell you whether or not an administrative unit is urban or rural. thus, dongguan (shi) is an urban administrative unit, while wangniudun (zhen) and and julong (cun) are rural levels. in contrast, i live in shenzhen city, futian district, huafu street office, tianmian neighborhood (深圳市福田区华富街道办事处田面居委会). district (qu), street office (jiedao banshichu), and neighborhood (juweihui) are urban designations. not unexpectedly, rural and urban designations also take clear form in the built environment. significantly, rural forms tend to be more traditional and urban forms tend to be more modern or western. thus, for example, the buildings in dongguan city, especially the new city plaza, reflect contemporary architectural trends, while in julong village traditional housing abuts updated one-story homes (平房 literally means flat house and refers to traditional village homes throughout china).

in the prc, rural and urban designations do not simply refer to landuse and population, but also to how the land is used. urban areas are directly under the state, where enterprises, corporations, and individuals can obtain landuse rights (in a process modelled after hong kong’s), but the land ultimately belongs to the state. in contrast, in rural areas, farmers have legal rights to land both for livelihood (growing crops) and housing. there are two main consequences of this situation. first, urban areas have been designated for industrialization, while rural areas have been designated for agricultural production. legally, one can only build a factory in an urban area (although in practice, this has been erroding since deng xiaoping’s southern tour in 1992). second, in terms of property, the traditional, one-stories in the villages are situated on land that belongs to the farmer. in contrast, an urban residents purchase a condo in a highrise, but they do not have eternal rights to it because the land on which the building stands still belongs to the state.

for the past few years, then, dongguan city has been a poster child of sorts for guangdong’s ongoing economic boom. if online statistics are to be believed, from 1999 to 2003, dongguan’s economy grew at a rate of 18.4% a year, enough to make the city the fourth fastest growing in guangdong and 10.3% higher than the national average. now before i went to julong village, i didn’t really think that much about dongguan and when i did it was in terms of boomtown evils: exploitation, prostitution, and pollution. i frequently passed by dongguan on my way to guangzhou and, like supernaut, was both distressed and fascinated by dongguan’s industrial landscape.

now, what’s important about townships like wangniudun is that much of the guangdong boom is actually located in rural townships and villages. administratively, townships are hybrids; they are rural cities. this means that in niuwangdun, julong villagers can invest in industrial production (because it is a city), but that the landuse rights return to villagers, both collectively and individually, because they hold eternal land rights. this loophole has provided guangdong townships and villages with the incentive and flexibility to industrialize in different ways from cities. on the one hand, it has also enabled villagers to become wealthy independent of the state. in shenzhen, this loophole inspired the rural urbanization movement, which changed the administrative status of shenzhen’s farmers from rural to urban, with the result that their children no longer have traditional rights to the land. on the other hand, it has produced a distinctive landscape of tiled multi-story housing, factories, and traditional remnants. for a sense of the emplacements that rural urbanization produces, please visit wangniudun township, julong village.

人的城市: dogs on a bus

the first fat bird collaboration took place in the summer of 2003, when yang qian, wen rongbing, liu hongming, zhang yuelong and i occuppied famous shenzhen landmarks. at the time, we were experiementing with using the landscape as stage. more often then not, we performed short pieces and then were either sent away (by local security) or ran away (because the police had been notified). think of these pieces as fat bird’s first engagement with shenzhen.

“dogs on a bus” filmed on shenzhen buses and the huangbeiling pet market.

Integrating the Pearl River Delta

Sunday afternoon, I walked east along the Houhai coast, from Houhai to Sand River (沙河). This is a strip of land that was formerly designated to be part of the Nanshan District Binhai green zone, which connects up with the Shenzhen Natural Mangrove Reserve in Futian District. My interest in the area grows with the audacity of land reclamation in Shenzhen. This area marks a second rezoning of the coastline. The first was part of the effort to build the Binhai Expressway, which connects Nanshan to Futian and Luohu Districts. This second stage was districted later and remnants of that now-obsolete coastline litter the new construction site.

(The curious can check out the Shenzhen’s overall urban plan (1996-2010) maps, while the even more adventurous can go to the Nanshan District overall urban plan. On those maps, I walked along the strip of coast facing Hong Kong. Offline, if your library has any of the Shenzhen yearbooks from the 1980s, there are interesting comparisons to be made. Published in the early 1990s, the last Baoan County Gazetteer is also fun, but harder to find.)

On my walk, I stumbled upon guardhouses that were never staffed by border guards and the chain-link fence that separates pedestrians from Houhai. The entire area had been filled with earth and pumps were busy squeezing out the last of the ocean. Dump trucks rumbled past and people carrying nets biked out to the new coastline. I learned there was a two-week window to catch newborn crabs before they swam out into what remained of the ocean. These baby crabs would be used to stock fisheries in Baoan District. The crabbers carried the crabs in plastic soda bottles that hung around their necks. Eventually, I arrived at Sand River, I came across one of the construction sites for the Shenzhen Western Corridor Bridge, which set me to thinking about the various infrastructures which integrate Shenzhen and Hong Kong. What follows is a longish outline of Shenzhen history as mapped by Shenzhen-Hong Kong checkpoints. You can skip the discussion and go straight to the Western Corridor land reclamation pictures, or you can indulge my sudden urge to document comprehensively the transformation of Shenzhen.

(I’ve just realized that I only use Mandarin and Shenzhen place names in this blog. I promise to start documenting the different names for the sites. I may even talk about what these differences in talk might mean…)

Anyway, the fourth land connection between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, the Shenzhen Western Corridor Bridge was completed in January 2006. The corridor itself should be finished later this year. It is a 3.8 km long dual-carriageway 3-lane bridge connecting Nanshan District to Hong Kong at Ngau Hom Shek. The construction is being overseen by OPAC, a San Francisco based engineering firm. Trying to figure out the actual cost of the corridor is somewhat difficult. According to the China Daily, the bridge cost $US 111 million to build. On their webpage, OPAC estimated that the cost of the Western Corridor Bridge would be $US 400 million. The Nickel Institute website quotes the Hong Kong Highway Authority as putting the estimated cost at $US 2.7 billion. Perhaps the China Daily quote refers just to the cost of the bridge, the OPAC quote to the cost of the entire corridor, and the Hong Kong Highway Authority quote to related infrastructure in Hong Kong. What can be concluded is that the corridor is expensive and somebody is making a lot of money from it.

And making money seems to be the point. The Western Corridor Bridge is part of a larger effort to transform the Pearl River Delta into one of the most vibrant economic regions in the world. On August 28, 2003, at the Foundation-stone Laying Ceremony for the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor in Shenzhen, Hong Kong Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa said, “Hong Kong and Shenzhen are a key nexus in land transport to the Mainland…The three existing land boundary crossings between Shenzhen and Hong Kong are nearing the saturation point, such that both administrations have agreed to build the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor as the fourth land crossing to accommodate growth. Traffic flows at the three existing boundary crossings have increased greatly over the past five years. The average total daily vehicular traffic at boundary crossings is expected to reach 65,000 vehicles in 2006, far beyond the daily capacity of 42,000 vehicles, which the three existing crossings offer now. Upon its completion, the Western Corridor will provide additional daily traffic capacity of 80,000 vehicles, raising the overall daily traffic capacity to 122,000 vehicles, thereby easing the current congestion. And yet, even four land crossings are considered inadequate to meet the future demand arising from further development. A working group drawn from among officials of the Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao administrations will convene its first meeting tomorrow to press on with the advance preparations for construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge…”

The figures for vehicular land crossings do not include statistics for all border checkpoints (in order of numbers of passenger crossings)—Luohu, Huanggang, Shekou, Shenzhen airport, Wenjindu, and Shatoujiao. Official Shenzhen customs figures showed entry and exit passengers at the city’s six checkpoints reached 137 million in 2004. Crossings surge during Chinese holidays, especially Chinese New Years, when an estimated 5-6 million people (over a period of two weeks) cross at Luohu alone. During the holiday season, all checkpoints extend hours and increase staff handling document inspection. Each of these crossings has a distinct, but interconnected history that illuminates different aspects of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong nexus as part of globalization. A crude synopsis of the six sites follows and provides a very, very, very rough outline of Shenzhen’s deep history.

(I try to problematize the idea of history with respect to Shenzhen most entries. However, this is the first time in this site that I’m trying to locate Shenzhen with respect to larger currents. I’ve learned how to think about this history from Giovanni Arrighi in his wonderful book The Long Twentieth Century. Helen Siu and David Faure have turned an anthropological lens on this process in Down to Earth: The Territorial Bond in South China. I’ve picked up some online sources that may be helpful and embedded in the following notes. I assume it’s all as reliable as statistics about Western Corridor Bridge finances are.)

In a certain sense, the Luohu checkpoint has been in existence since the leasing of the Hong Kong New Terriories in 1898, when the Sino-Anglo border moved to the Shenzhen River. Previously, the Qing Dynasty had ceded Hong Kong Island and the area south of the Kowloon Mountains to Great Britain in 1842 (end of the first Opium War) and 1860 (end of the second Opium War), respectively. Luohu (Lo Wu in Cantonese) was the first stop on the Chinese side of the Hong Kong-Guangzhou railway, which was built in 1913 and more effectively integrated south-eastern China into the British Empire. So thinking about Luohu leads to thoughts about British imperialism, the transition to the Cold War, and the postsocialist realignment of international political-economies with a focus on East Asia. Suddenly, Shenzhen is neither hinterland nor no man’s land, but vying for the center of global trade. In a recent defense of building the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and associated costs, the Executive Director of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, Joseph Tung, has said that the Luowu checkpoint is one of the busiest land crossings in the world, with more than 90 million people passing through it every year.

The Huanggang Checkpoint opened for 24-hour border crossings Jan. 27, 2003, at which point crossing figures surged from 50,000 to 110,000 per day. Buses to and from the Huanggang Checkpoint, connect Shenzhen to six Hong Kong destinations, including the Hong Kong airport. Since 1995, Huanggang has been the primary conduit between Shenzhen and Hong Kong Disneyland. Until the construction of the Western Corridor Bridge, Huanggang was the newest of the land crossings. It is interesting because it was part of a geographic shift in Shenzhen from “Downtown” referring to Luo Hu to the new “City Business Center” in Futian. The shift began in 1996, when the Shenzhen Municipal Government accepted plans for the new CBD. Michael Gallagher gave a talk about the Shenzhen CBD in 2002. But for a sense of the scale of this transformation and the debate about it, google 深圳CBD and check out all the different sites. Thus, the shift from Luohu to Futian allows for specifying the differences between a Hong Kong centered development in the early 80s to a more diffuse integration of the region, and therefore a more Mainland-centered pattern of economic development.

The most expensive connection between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, the Shekou ferry makes 13 round trip voyages a day, except during Chinese New Year, when the number of trips increases to accommodate the numbers of visitors. An additional 8 daily voyages connect Shekou to the Hong Kong airport. Most frequent passengers on the ferry are Shekou-based foreigners. The Shekou Ferry is interesting for a number of reasons, most related to the role that China Merchants has played (by way of Shekou) in the development of Shenzhen. The role of China Merchants then leads back to Luohu and questions of national development first raised during the later years of the Qing Dynasty. As of 2004, China Merchants has posted its own historical archive online, which highlights the role that commerce and international relations have played in modern Chinese history.

Along with Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, and Macau, the Shenzhen Airport is one of five international airports in the Pearl River Delta. In terms of passengers served, it ranks behind Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The five international airports have been built within a radius of 25 km. illustrating the level of competition and inter-city rivalry that has characterized development in the Pearl River Delta, rather than regional cooperation and planning. Moreover, the redundant infrastructure in the Delta has led to serious environmental problems, according to a report by K. C. Ho and C. S. Man.

Wenjindu is primarily a crossing for goods between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. It was opened in 1950, as part of the new Mainland government’s strategy to bring hard currency into the country. Throughout the Mao-era, agricultural products flowed from the Mainland into Hong Kong, a development strategy that has been more fully exploited since Shenzhen’s establishment. So thinking about Wenjindu allows one to question commonly held understandings about China’s so-called isolation during the Mao era outside of the obvious connections with the former Soviet Union and other socialist and third world countries. In the era of Avian flu, Wenjindu regularly appears in Hong Kong news reports as the site where chickens and other poultry cross the border. With suspicious regularity, indeed with an almost ritualized compulsion, Hong Kong public health officials regularly express astonishment on conditions north of the border.

So a rough outline of Shenzhen’s history with respect to the construction, use, and re-appropriation of Shenzhen-Hong Kong border checkpoint infrastructure. It touches upon British imperialism, the Cold War, the East Asian economic miracle, the rise of China as a global player, international epidemics, and the concomitant transformation of the environment. This is how we make our world, one reclaimed special zone at a time.

Lake Fengze

Two days ago, I jumped on a 234 and made my way to Lake Fengze, which sits between a small chain of mountains and the Northern Loop. Along with developing real estate on land reclaimed along Shenzhen’s southwestern coast, developing real estate along the Northern Loop represents a sizable chunk of construction within the SEZ.

Before I wax poetic about the size of the construction sites and the magnitude of the city’s vision, a bit of geography is perhaps in order. Imagine a giant bird, stretching its wings for flight. The mythologically inclined have identified this bird to be a roc, and nicknamed Shenzhen, “Roc City”. At any rate, the city lies just north of the Hong Kong, joining the New Territories on a strip of land between Huanggang (in the west) and Wenjingdu (in the east). This area might be thought of our bird’s breast. The roc’s western wing extends into the Pearl River Delta, its tip at the Nantou Peninsula. From Nantou, one soars north to Guangzhou. The roc’s eastern wing juts into the Pacific Ocean, its tip at Nan’ao. From there, one heads north to Chaozhou.

Given the importance of river trade to China’s pre-modern economy, and that of the Pearl River to South China’s economy, folks living on the western wing have traditionally been better off than those living on the eastern wing. Indeed, this inequality seems to have constituted the area’s political-economy and cultural geography for at least a millennia. On the one hand, for roughly 1,000 years, the county seat was situated at Nantou, while Nan’ao was home to relatively poor fishing villages. On the other hand, Cantonese speakers, who remain culturally hegemonic in Guangdong Province, have occupied the western lands, while Hakka speakers have inhabited the eastern tip.

The construction of the Canton-Hong Kong railway in 1913 began to unmake this cultural geography, shifting wealth and influence from the western wing to the breast. The railway enabled the British to bypass Guangzhou and transport goods from the Mainland to Hong Kong, where they controlled the harbor and shipping. The first railway station on the Mainland side was Shenzhen Market. It bears mentioning that these two different forms of spatial integration produced two kinds of cities, riparian cities and colonial ports, which depended on the railways (there by shifting control from folks along the rivers to whoever owned the railroad). That is two say, the Canton-Hong Kong railroad was a means of redirecting wealth from Guangzhou (a riparian city) to Hong Kong (colonial port). Shenzhen emerged as part of this spatial reordering of China’s traditional political-economy. Nevertheless, until the early 1980s, when Reform and Opening completely altered the area’s demographics, this demographic distribution held more or less true: relatively wealthy Cantonese in the west, relatively impoverished Hakka in the east. These groups seem to have mingled on the Roc’s breast, where Cantonese and Hakka villages abutted one another. (For the classic analysis of urbanization in imperial China, check out G. William Skinner, “Marketing and social structure in rural China, Parts I, II, and III”. Journal of Asian Studies 24, 1 (Nov. 1964): 3-44; 24, 2 (Feb. 1965): 195-228; 24, 3 (May 1965): 363-99.)

So, historically two forms of transportation have connected what is now called Shenzhen to Guangzhou, the most important urban center in the Pearl River Delta region for 2,000 years (give or take). The older form of transportation was by water, connecting Nantou to Guangzhou. Significantly, villages with rights to the banks of the Pearl River also had small docks from which they could set sail. The younger of the two forms of transportation is the railway, which Hong Kong to Guangzhou by way of Shenzhen. In 1953, when the newly established government transferred the county seat from Nantou to Shenzhen, they acknowledged the growing importance of the railway for integrating the political-economy that would come to define socialism in the PRC.

The construction of superhighways at Lake Fengze represents an intensification of the political and economic integration enabled by both riparian and rail transport. Since the establishment of Shenzhen, the development of infrastructure has been central to the construction of the city. Indeed, on both the western and eastern wings of the roc, the city has built ports that are capable of handling large amounts of containers and combined, their capacity exceeds that of Hong Kong. Moreover, better rail lines have been put in place, although they are now used primarily for transporting human beings. However, the main thrust of development has been constructing roads that link previously isolated villages and market towns both within Shenzhen and to Guangzhou and Hong Kong. (For example, Nantou used to be an hour’s bus trip from downtown Shenzhen, in the belly of the roc. With the opening of Binhai, it’s now a twenty-minute express ride.)

From western to eastern wingtip, three main arteries integrate Shenzhen. The first developed was Shennan Road, which runs between Delta waters (in the south) and the Meilin Mountains (in the north). Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Shenzhen semis, trucks, and private automobiles rumbled along this one road, hauling products and persons to the Hong Kong border crossings at Wenjingdu, Luohu, and Huanggang. Small, often single lane tributary roads funneled these same products from Market and village enterprises. In the early 1990s, however, construction on Binhai road and the Northern Loop began. Binhai road was carved out of Delta waters; it is the mainstay of the city’s land reclamation project (for a partial intro to the land reclamation project, see: ).

The Northern Loop has been carved out of the mountains; it is part of an attempt to make useful land that had previously been given over to orchards. The expression “moving mountains to fill the sea”, which usually refers to the land reclamation project also points to the razing of the Meiling Mountains. From an airplane, one can see huge tracts of flattened land. Up close, when driving along the northern loop, one can see dump trucks lined up to haul the rocks and dirt to places in need of landfill. (Although this scene was much more common ten years ago, the level of construction is still quite remarkable.)

Designed to increase the volume and velocity of road traffic, these new and improved roads radiate out of Shenzhen in every direction—not only to Guangzhou and Hong Kong, but also toward Huizhou, Meizhou, and Chaozhou. Within the city itself, the single lane tributary roads have been widened and it is not uncommon to see semis lumbering between the remains of palm tree orchards and upscale housing developments (that take advantage of the natural beauty of former agricultural lands). Shenzhen and Hong Kong are cooperating to build the Western Corridor, which bridge the Pearl River and link the cities in the West.

Yet the historic geographic political-economy dies hard. At the national level, a colonial product of railways and ocean port shipping, Shanghai has emerged as the country’s dominant port city. Indeed, port cities have fared better than inland cities, most of which were established when riparian transportation integrated China’s regional economies. In Shenzhen, specifically, the eastern wingtip continues to be relatively poorer than the western wingtip.

In the late 1990s, the City designated a new urban district, Yantian to actively promote tourism and manufacturing to develop the eastern part of the city. One of the first projects completed was a four-lane tunnel through Wutong Mountains, which provided a natural barrier between the roc’s eastern wing and its belly. However, even with state of the art roadways, tourism and manufacturing have not been as compatible as planners might have thought. On the one hand, Shenzhen residents enjoy spending their weekends on the beaches in Yantian, the most beautiful in the city. In the evenings, they go to Yantian to dine on fresh and cheap seafood. On the other hand, the new district has not only encouraged the construction of factories, it has built a large, international port. And it is not unusual to see cars full of beach towels and umbrellas caught in a traffic jam with semis. More obviously, however, is simply the difficulty of dividing a finite strip of coastline between shipping, manufacturing, and leisure activities.

Why does all of this roadwork matter? Or perhaps the question might be phrased: what makes these contradictions so poignant?

Shenzhen was built with an eye to integrating China into world capitalist exchanges. Yet in order to achieve the kind of integration sought, China has also had to reconstruct the urban order of things. In places like Shanghai and Guangzhou, this has entailed an intensification of historic geographic inequality. In contrast, in Shenzhen, globalization has predicated a transvaluation of that same inequality—it is the first new city to challenge the hierarchy of Chinese cities. In this sense, Shenzhen is a new kind of Chinese city, admittedly built out of old landmarks and geographic habits, but nevertheless quite different than its predecessors. Unlike in Shanghai and Guangzhou, where the urban elite are very often the decendents of that city’s historic elite (whether traditional or communist), in Shenzhen the nouveau riche are exactly that: a new group of elites, who thirty years ago didn’t expect to be where they are because they knew their place in the older order. More importantly, Shenzhen’s elites have risen out of the construction of this environment. In building the city, they have constructed themselves as a new kind of Chinese subject.

For a look at Lake Fengze roadwork, please visit: