(光明新区)楼村: Of what use is [urban] planning?

Located in Guangming New District (光明新区), Lou Village has the largest area of any in Shenzhen and a villager population of 4,000. Of course, it is no longer Lou Village but Lou Village Neighborhood (楼村居委会) and its population is no longer under 5,000 — and therein lies today’s tale.

At the 15th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, the second line (二线) still divided Shenzhen into two distinct administrative structures, the SEZ (now called guannei or “inside the gate”) and Baoan and Longgang Districts (now called guanwai or “outside the gate”). The year was 1995 and Baoan and Longgang District governments had been built and staffed, 25 urban markets soon to be precincts (镇 into 街道办事处) had been designated, and consequently the work of incorporating over 200 guanwai villages into the municipal apparatus begun. Economic advancement was an important aspect of political incorporation precisely because 15 years into reform, Shenzhen had discovered that “allowing a few to get rich first (让一部分人先富裕起来)” undermined social stability. Continue reading