This is another “not all villages are equal” note, this time about access to the Guanlan Foxconn campus, which is surrounded by urban villages. These villages have differently benefited from the world’s number one maker of electronics. At the end of 2018, for example, Dashuikeng (大水坑) made international news as Vanke prepared to top-down gentrify it. Located just outside the southern entrance to the Guanlan Foxconn campus, Dashuikeng has provided more than inexpensive housing for company workers; it also offers housing for married workers, workers who want respite from company management, and workers who want more privacy. In contrast, while Jutang Community (桔塘社区) abuts Dashuikeng, nevertheless, it is not conveniently located near either of the campus’ two gates. This has meant that the neighborhoods that comprise Jutang are less commercialized, with much lower end housing available for the company’s lowest paid workers–truly just a place to sleep. Jutang occupies over 4.5 square kilometers and has a population of 40,000 people. My impressions, below:
The distinction between the golf course (or “high ball field – 高球场” as it is now abbreviated) and the nearby urban villages is clearer in English than in Chinese, because the gulf course is known as Guanlan Lake High Ball Field, while the surround area is simply “Guanlan.” These fuzzy language borders matter. I know, for example, many Chinese people who use English translation to more strongly express ideas and aspirations that remain muted in Putonghua. I will be exploring these tensions–between art and craft, between hand and machine, between service and consumption, and between local and outsider–over the next two months as a participant in the Guanlan Mission Hills International Material Art Camp. Below are impressions from my first few days walking the area.
Off the beaten track (or at least a 15 minute bus ride from the Longhua subway station), Dalang remains one of the manufacturing centers of Shenzhen as well as one of the few spaces where it is still possible to see container trucks of various sizes trundling about. The landscape itself is a dense mix of industrial parks, proper urban villages, collectively held property, and limited public and commercial property. In other words, the area retains much of its morphology from when Longhua was officially a market town (镇, 1986-2004) and the entire area was developed through rural institutions.
Walked around the qinghu station, which for the moment, is the last station on the longhua line. in its underdevelopment, the area reminds us that Shenzhen’s “villages in the city (城中村)” began as “new villages (新村)”, as locals took advantage of their land, proximity to Hong Kong, and cheap labor to jump into global chains of production. Nevertheless, with the subway, bourgeois taste has begun to restructure the landscape and upscale housing developments now push Longhua factories and dormitories further inland. Pictures below.