Sustainable Urbanisation in China :
Historical and Comparative Perspectives, Mega-trends towards 2050
While each of the four core research teams will deliver significant added value through the work packages, there is also provision in the proposal for extensive cross-project collaboration based on the four defined topics identified in the Call:
1.The institutional foundations and policies for urbanisation;
2.The issue of land property in urbanisation and the development of real estate markets in cities;
3.The need for environmental infrastructures delivering connectivity and services for the urban population;
4.The relationships between urban development, traditions, and modern lifestyles in cities.
These four topics will be treated as different layers within a comprehensive analysis of a single process -urbanisation in China- that links historical experiences, comparative dimensions and possible future scenarios. This framework will provide a firm foundation for multi-faceted interactions between scholars, officials and business in Europe and China. It will also provide the basis for extensive dissemination of URBACHINA outputs using a variety of
media designed to engage policy makers and ordinary citizens."
CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
Rue Michel Ange 3
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
€ 780 739,60
Alain Mangeol (Mr.)
Sort by EU Contribution
EAST CHINA NORMAL UNIVERSITY ECNU
€ 48 020
ENTERPRISE RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH CENTER OF THE STATE COUNCIL
€ 21 560
THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM
€ 93 718,80
Institute of Finance and Trade Economics,Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
€ 9 800
LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE
€ 982 705,20
INSTITUTE OF GEOGRAPHICAL SCIENCES AND NATURAL RESOURCES RESEARCH, CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
€ 68 600
ISTITUTO DI STUDI PER L'INTEGRAZIONE DEI SISTEMI (I.S.I.S) - SOCIETA'COOPERATIVA
€ 347 700
INSTITUTO DE CIENCIAS SOCIAIS
€ 220 246,40
Renmin University of China
€ 90 650
ANHUI ACADEMY OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE RESEARCH
€ 33 320
Grant agreement ID: 266941
1 March 2011
28 February 2015
€ 3 362 438,41
€ 2 697 060
CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
The future of Chinese cities
Grant agreement ID: 266941
1 March 2011
28 February 2015
€ 3 362 438,41
€ 2 697 060
CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
Discover other articles in the same domain of application
Final Report Summary - URBACHINA (Sustainable Urbanisation in China : <br/><br/>Historical and Comparative Perspectives, Mega-trends towards 2050)
UrbaChina was a collaborative project carried out by a consortium of 11 leading Chinese and European research institutions. Coordinated by the CNRS, the UrbaChina project activities consisted in analysing and defining China's urbanisation trends for the next 40 years and outlining possible future scenarios with reference to the concepts of sustainability.
The UrbaChina project strived for a better understanding of the urbanisation process in China using interdisciplinary methods, and so aimed at identifying the main conditions for urban sustainability and at developing scenarios of the future of Chinese cities based on concepts of sustainable development. The UrbaChina research teams used a multifaceted approach, applying concepts and best practice methods from a range of disciplines, including economic geography, urban economics, environmental studies, sociology, anthropology, history and forecasting.
In addition, the approach incorporated historical and comparative perspectives: the first in order to sort out historical continuity and discontinuity in the Chinese urbanisation process, and the second to identify similarities and differences between the urbanisation processes inside and outside China, particularly in Europe. This EU-China cooperative project had the ambition of establishing a durable research network in social sciences between European and Chinese institutions.
The Consortium members worked on four different research areas (or work packages) to better address the different aspects and challenges of sustainable urban development in China.
UrbaChina’s first thematic work package analysed the institutional foundations and policies for urbanisation. This work package addressed three issues, namely:
- Future patterns of urbanization in China and the strategies that may be adopted for city development,
- The transformation of central-local relations,
- The shift towards service industry in Chinese cities.
The second thematic work package focused on the issues related to the territorial expansion of Chinese cities. Partners in this work package studied the transformation of land property law, the evolution of rural-to-urban migrations including the “hukou” issue, the commercialisation of housing and the evolution of Chinese cities.
UrbaChina third thematic work package was entitled “Infrastructure and services for sustainable urbanization: trends and policy support mechanisms”. This research team studied the sustainability aspects of current and future trends in terms of infrastructure and service requirements for energy, transport, water and health, and their impact on the environment, health and quality of life.
The last thematic work package focused on “urban communities and social sustainability”. It analysed the evolution of urban planning in China and the question of public space. Partners in this work package also studied local governance in Chinese cities and the emergence of a civil society. A last element of research regarded the incorporation of villages into cities.
Project Context and Objectives:
The project “Sustainable Urbanisation in China: Historical and Comparative Perspectives, Mega-trends towards 2050 (UrbaChina)” addressed topics related to current urban issues in China.
Objectives set by the Consortium were rooted in China’s economic and political context and answers developed by the UrbaChina members were connected to reality.
- Project context
Urbanisation has been a major manifestation of the accelerated pace of economic development experienced by the Chinese economy since the implementation of opening up reforms in 1978.
The relative relaxation of controls on population movements and the development of industry in rural counties have led to China’s rapid urbanization. In 2011, China’s urban population exceeded rural for the first time, and this phenomenon is not likely to slow down. According to various forecasts by international organisations (United Nations, World Bank, OECD), in 2025, China‘s urban population is likely to expand to more than 900 million, and China will have 221 cities with at least million inhabitants.
China’s main challenges are to minimise the adverse consequences of urbanisation and optimise its positive impacts.
China was seeking for a new model of development. The “New-Type Urbanization Plan for the 2014-2020” (March 2014) sets several objectives to reach sustainable urbanization. This plan has for ambition to reduce inequalities between great urban centres and small and medium-sized cities. It also stresses a people-oriented urbanization as an essential value, and has for objective to transform 100 million migrants into urbanites. Priorities will be given to the development of public services facilities (e.g. social housing).
This new direction taken by Chinese cities is motivated by several factors.
First, China looks to develop domestic demand as the main contributor to economic growth, and this may be facilitated by sustainable urbanization. The growth pattern China has experienced in the last 30 years, has focused primarily on the export of labour intensive manufactured goods. Although this model brought an impressive development, it has also created massive pollution, social inequalities among regions and between urban and rural residents.
Furthermore, Chinese urban population feels more and more concerned about questions regarding social and environmental issues. The current urbanization model has strong negative impacts on air pollution or food safety, and local population aspires for a healthier life. The integration of migrants into urban cities is a real challenge. In some districts of Beijing, more than 40% of resident do not possess a local “hukou”, and so cannot fully benefit from social policies (including education and social housing). As China has for ambition to upgrade its economy, the country needs to integrate this floating population.
The challenge of sustainable urbanization is also shared by the EU and the rest of the world. Although Europe does not face massive urbanisation trends like China, both regions have to answer sustainability issues and need to optimize their energy consumption and insure the highest quality of life to their citizens.
Moreover, as China is now the first world economy (since 2014), environmental and economic questions in China affect the whole world. It is necessary for Europe to cooperate with China to find the best solutions to reach sustainable urbanization and accompany China in her way to an environmental and social respectful development.
- Main objectives
Fostering EU-China cooperation
A major objective of UrbaChina was to improve the level of cooperation between Europe and China on sustainable urbanisation issues.
The Project addressed this aim by adopting a comparative approach and by using examples of good practices implemented in European and Chinese cities.
One of the tasks fulfilled by the consortium was the formulation of recommendations to improve university syllabi in Europe and in China in order that the coming generation of urban planners and other professionals involved in urban affairs deal with every dimension of sustainable urbanization.
Although UrbaChina gathered mainly academic institutions, the objective of the consortium was to associate and share their findings with a wide range of stakeholders including officials, businessmen, civil society (associations, NGOs, journalists).
UrbaChina members also had for ambition to maintain relations and exchanges between European and Chinese institutions and researchers after the programme’s completion.
The UrbaChina also proposed a range of visions/scenarios of more or less sustainable urban futures for China as a basis for discussion, dissemination and further collaborative research.
These scenarios were presented to Chinese stakeholders after the consortium’s completed their research.
Conducting research on sustainable urbansitation
The consortium studied the four following topics:
1) Analyzing the institutional foundations of urbanization
One research team studied the patterns and processes of China‘s urbanization since market reforms and analyze central-local governments relations especially in regard to fiscal reforms. Their research also aimed at understanding the process of city expansion and regional coordination.
They also assessed the potential contribution of producer service activities to the dynamics of urbanisation in China, and evaluated the innovation capacity of cities to adapt to a global economy.
2) Studying territorial expansion and “accommodating greater population”
Another objective of the UrbaChina team was to understand the evolution of land status and the consequences of urbanization on migration flows.
Researchers provided an analytical account of the legal framework concerning property in land, the user rights and transactions user rights and the process of acquisition of land.
They also studied internal population migration and focused on the hukou system and its recent evolutions.
3) Scrutinizing trends and policy support mechanisms for sustainable urbanization
A third team had for duty to review past and current trends in terms of energy, water and health infrastructure and service requirements;
They also had for objective to identify the policy drivers (frameworks/goals) and the funding regimes underlying such trends.
A second task fulfilled by this team was to identify possible policy mechanisms for sustainable urbanisation. They defined a framework of sustainable cities indicators for China and developed scenarios for sustainable development in China.
4) Reviewing the impacts of urbanisation on traditions and lifestyles in Chinese cities
The fourth research team focal topics were urban government, self-government, and social sustainability. The task of researchers was therefore to investigate emergent forms of self-governance in Chinese cities: How new municipal institutions interact with residents who bring to their urban relocation ways of organising themselves and improvise new ones.
One of the objectives of the project was to exchange results with academics and stakeholders. The UrbaChina team paid attention to disseminate their results through diverse means such as publishing articles, releasing working papers on open access and operating a website and a blog, so that their results can be used for future research and for policy making in China.
After having conducted research on several aspect of urbanization in China for four years, the UrbaChina consortium formulated several findings about the current and future trends on sustainable urbanisation in China.
All the tasks defined at the beginning of the project were fulfilled. Thanks to its multifaceted dimensions, the UrbaChina project offered a global vision of China’s urbanization’s issues and challenges.
These results are available to stakeholders through a collective volume (to be published by Edward Elgar in 2015) articles, policy briefs, working papers, blog posts…
- Main S & T results for the consortium‘ themes
Theme 1: Institutional foundations and policies for urbanization
Since the implementation of economic reforms in the late 1970s, Chinese cities have been through intense transformations and local institutions have evolved accordingly to face these changes.
Patterns of urbanisation
The UrbaChina consortium questioned the current model of development adopted by Chinese cities, and analysed the recent policies implemented to support sustainable development.
Migrant workers and their housing
China’s dual citizenship system has caused inequalities in access to jobs, public services, social protection, and housing. The UrbaChina team studied the impact of the persistence of the hukou system on migrants’ access to housing. The housing issues facing rural migrants result from the rapid path of urbanisation in China. These issues are exacerbated by the fact that China is in a state of transition while maintaining the dual systems of citizenship and property.
Urban villages and small property housing are illustrations of the state’s lack of adaptation to the new socioeconomic circumstances. They have been home to millions of rural migrants who cannot find affordable housing within the city because of soaring real estate prices, difficulties in obtaining finance, and the lack of dedicated social housing. The emergence of these phenomena also reflects how inconsistently the Central Government regulations are applied at the local level.
Urban planners focus on infrastructure and they favour a “steel and iron approach” to urban development, but do not pay enough attention to the human-centred aspects of urbanisation. The concept of ‘smart city’ used in China mostly concerns the deployment of new technologies, without properly taking into account the societal dimension.
Economic growth is still the main objective of urban planners. Green development and residents’well-being are not taken enough into account.
Researchers noticed the preference of local governments for the development of large-scale projects (eco-cities, green cities...). Municipalities usually use these projects as displays to attract further investment and build a stronger city-brand, but several of these projects do not answer to residents and companies’ needs and remain deserted (ghost towns).
Financing Chinese cities
The UrbaChina team studied the impact of the tax sharing system on the local governments’ urban development policies, and the threats posed by this system.
China’s current fiscal system was first implemented in 1994. Prior to 1980, the Chinese fiscal system was very centralized: most of the revenues were collected by the central government, and then provinces were allocated funds according to the expenditure plan. Reforms carried out in 1980 gave a high degree of fiscal autonomy to local governments, but this led to market segmentation, and “local fiefdoms”. The main objective of the 1994’s new system was to increase the control of the central government over financial recourses and increase interregional integration. But this fiscal system shows several issues.
First, local governments do not receive enough allocations from the central government to finance the activities they are in charge of. There is a mismatch between resources and responsibilities.
To increase their financial capabilities, local governments heavily rely on land development. Local governments have a monopoly on the real estate primary market as it has the exclusive legitimacy, through a sui generis expropriation, to introduce the land on the market and exploit its potential value.
Land lease revenue is often considered as a “second fiscal revenue” and its proportion in local fiscal revenue has gradually increased. In some places, the land lease revenue is the major source of fiscal revenues.
This leads to urban sprawl and land waste: the more rural land is transformed into urban land, the more money local government receive through land lease revenues.
Another related issue is the possible debt risks incurred by local governments. Since cities have so far not been allowed to issue local bonds (there is an ongoing reform on this issue), they have used other financial tools such as use the urban development and infrastructure corporations (zhongguochengshifazhan touzigongsi), UDICs) and the local government financing vehicles (LGFVs, difangzhengfu rongzigongju) to increase their credit capacities.
But these financial tools lack transparency, and may create governance and debt issues.
The economic transformation experienced by China during the last thirty years has increased territorial inequalities, between countryside and cities, between Eastern and Western provinces. New policies related to urbanization have to address disparity issues.
China still suffers from severe regional disparities. In spite of regional development policies (e.g. the Go West policy, 2000) and fiscal transfers, economic and social inequalities between Eastern and Western cities remain important. Western provinces are still less developed and attract less migrants than Eastern provinces.
East China is more urbanized and is home of the country’s three main megalopolises: Beijing-Tianjin megacity, the Yangtze River delta region, and the Pearl river delta region. Chongqing, one of the four cities studied by UrbaChina, is the largest megacity of Western China, and its development has been largely promoted by central authorities.
The UrbaChina consortium studied the relations between intense urbanization and regional cooperation. In the process of urbanisation in China, the role of metropolis has changed, and the necessity of cooperation between cities has increased due to globalisation.
To conduct this research, members of the UrbaChina consortium have focused on the case of Shanghai and the Yangtze River delta region.
Before China’s opening, economic relations between Shanghai and other cities were very weak. With the implementation of reforms in the late 70’s, new opportunities emerged in the Yangtze River delta, and every city was willing to enjoy it. As a result, competition was fierce between the cities of the Yangtze River delta, which led to misgovernance. Land development was not optimised and led to infrastructures replication. Each city developed similar projects to lure investors, and so the level of cooperation was very low.
Since the 2010’s and the holding of the World Expo in Shanghai, cooperation has increased in the Yangtze River delta. Regional integration development has become a primary objective for local authorities.
The results of this regional integration can be seen in the polycentric pattern of the Yangtze River delta and the strong relations between Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai.
However, some issues still prevent the full integration of cities around the growth pole of Shanghai. For UrbaChina researchers, the main problems for cooperation development was the following: the market is still characterised by administrative segmentation (e.g.: with the persistence of local trade barriers) and coordination mechanisms need to be improved; economic and industrial structures within the region are still too homogeneous and so the degree of competition among regional companies are too high to further cooperation, infrastructures are still constructed redundantly and are seldom connected to each other at the regional level.
UrbaChina researchers have explored the characteristics and trajectories of intermediate of producer services in Chinese cities using the four city cases.
Towards a service economy
Rapid urbanisation coincides with a stage in China’s development that requires an evolution of its manufacturing export dependent growth model towards a model that incorporates a wider range of producer and consumer services.
China’s industrialization has been dominated by the growth of manufacturing but, until recently, without a corresponding recognition of the growing importance of services, including producer services. This has remained the case even in large cities like Shanghai and Kunming, which are heavily engaged in the development of new growth centres beyond the existing city limits.
Apart from the challenges that this presents for sustainable urban growth (water, energy, waste management, food production), there are also questions about its relationship with existing and potential producer services activities/employment growth.
In many cities, including those like Kunming, the development of the service sector has been relatively slow although the growth of leasing and business services is notable. Even so, the ongoing shift towards a form of market economy has made some cities, particularly in the inland provinces, vulnerable to the greater flexibility of location choice for some manufacturing activities (that may previously have made location choices dictated by government directives).
Regional disparities in producer services
Cities with more than 100,000 persons employed in producer services in 2009 consistently demonstrate positive average annual growth since 2004.
Irrespective of population size, almost all of the capital cities of the provinces show higher annual rates of producer services employment growth than even the prefecture-level cities.
Cities, irrespective of population size, that have accumulated a significant cluster of producer services (by volume or diversity) tend to attract further rounds of growth and investment that reinforces their initial advantage.
Weaknesses of producer services in Chinese cities
Principal weaknesses derive from the shortage and range of available expertise, lack of flexibility, and marketing/promotion challenges.
However, recent projections suggest that China is likely to struggle to close a large and widening gap in the supply of university and vocational graduates, and this will have positive impacts on producer services.
Detailed findings on “Institutional foundations and policies for urbanization” may be found in D2.2 policy brief.
Theme 2: Territorial expansion & accommodating greater population
Compared with urbanisation in 19th and 20th century Europe, the process of urbanisation in today’s Asia, especially China, stands out in three respects; it is (1) much larger in scale in terms of population, (2) much faster in pace in terms of areas covered by towns and cities, and (3) taking place under tighter environmental constraints.
In China, as in other developing economies, urbanisation consists of two processes. The first is a rising proportion of urban population in the total population, which is driven by rural-to-urban migration. The second is a steady expansion of the area covered by towns, which involves the diversion of rural land for urban development. In China these take on particular forms because of two specifically Chinese institutions: first, the household registration system (hukou), and, second, public ownership of land and its division into state (urban) and collective (rural) ownership. Both affect the daily lives of citizens in particular ways and are sources of numerous problems that have come to the fore with the development of a market economy. The problems associated with hukou have arisen with the growth of migration from the countryside to the city. Similarly, the growth of market transactions in land use rights (LURs) has generated a whole host of problems associated with the two-part division of public ownership of land.
Issues and challenges of Hukou
Hukou is a population wide system for recording data on individuals, which is used for ascertaining the identity of individuals and for preferential allocation of privileges and social goods and services. It is the latter that gives hukou its distinctive characteristic of putting some sections of the population at an advantage or disadvantage relative to the rest. There are two hukou entries which are used for discriminatory allocation: place of residence (suozaidi) and the hukou status of the holder (hukou leibie), divided into "agricultural" and “non-agricultural”. Although these are factual categories, they can only be changed through administrative discretion. Migration to a new locality is not sufficient to change the registered place of residence, and severing links with farming and moving to work in the city, as tens of millions of rural inhabitants do every year, does not lead to a corresponding change from agricultural to non-agricultural hukou.
Like the country of citizenship, hukou location can be changed only by administrative discretion. Broadly, the same holds for the distinction between agricultural/non-agricultural. The conditions governing change are set locally rather than nationally; as a result, they vary across towns and cities. They are light and permissive for towns and small and medium sized cities, but highly demanding for large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. In these cities the criteria for the grant of local hukou are designed to disqualify all but a very small percentage of aspirants to local hukou. At the current rate of conversion of outside to local hukou, large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai would always have a substantial underclass of people who live and work in the city but are regarded as aliens.
The combination of administrative control over these two categories, and internal migration on a large scale, has produced anomalies. The most visible is a population of individuals who are regarded as residents not of the locality where they are actually living and working on a long-term basis, but of a different locality. This population is large and has been growing rapidly. The 2010 population census puts its total at 268 million, around 20% of the total, having grown from zero in 1978. It is largely made up of rural migrants in cities, which includes not only the recent arrivals but also those who arrived long ago and their children who have been born and grown up in cities. The other anomalous population, which is roughly the same size and partially overlaps the first consists of individuals who continue to be classified as "agricultural" but with no current links to the countryside or to farming.
The anomalous populations consists of individuals who are denied privileges and access to goods and services to which their peers are entitled. They represent a deep division between “haves” and “have-nots” within the urban population. This division is not only contrary to the widely accepted principle of equitable treatment of all citizens but is also a barrier to social development and economic efficiency. It is also a potential source of instability in urban areas. Until now, reforms of the system have been from a short-term perspective, aimed at removing barriers to the mobility of labour from the countryside to cities and partially improving the status of migrants and their welfare. These reforms are desirable but they do not take on board the fact that much of rural-to-urban migration is irreversible, and that over the medium to long term reforms should aim to reduce the migrant population substantially by absorbing migrants as urban citizens.
In the communique issued in November 2013, the State Council finally decided to overhaul the hukou system and absorb most of the migrant population as permanent urban residents by 2020. However, even after promised reforms have been completed, the acquisition of hukou for localities much in demand would still be restricted. In discussions of reforms, central issues concern the barriers to a radical reform of the hukou system and the time it would take to implement such a reform. There are two type of barriers to a radical reform: first, resistance from the population which benefits from the current system and, second, the cost of providing the newly absorbed migrants with social and goods and services on a par with those already provided to permanent urban residents. The former refers to privileges whose value depends on being limited, such as preference given to local hukou holders in admission to local universities. As for the second, the cost can be substantial. According to calculations made by the Development Research Centre of the State Council, each conversion from rural to urban hukou would cost roughly 80,000 RMB, to provide the new hukou holder with the same social goods and services as a current holder. This suggests that the backlog cannot be immediately cleared. The implication is that the overhaul of the hukou system has to go hand in hand with a complementary reform of the public finance system.
Public Ownership of Land
The Chinese law rules out ownership by individuals and private companies. This principle has persisted since the mid-1950s in the face of radical changes in the institutional structure of the economy. Before 1978, public ownership of land was a means to establishing a socialist economy. With the economic reforms, public ownership of land has come to co-exist with household farming, mixed ownership of housing and buildings, and an active market in real estate. Public ownership of land has also become a huge revenue source for the government, especially for city governments. Prima facie, public ownership of land, as it has operated in China, sets no definite limits to future changes in the possession, use and disposition of agricultural and urban land.
Public ownership of land in China is not a unitary category but is divided into state and collective ownership, the former covering urban and the latter rural areas. The geographical boundary separating these two is continually shifting in a developing economy undergoing urbanisation. The diversion of rural land for urban development in China generally takes the form of the compulsory acquisition of collectively-owned rural land. This affects a large mass of the rural population, around 4 million rural households every year, distributed across close to half of all Chinese villages over the ten years to 2011.
The feature that has made public ownership of land in China highly adaptable to changes in economic organisation is the separation of use rights in land (LURs) from land ownership. Although the principle of public ownership has remained unaltered, salient aspects of LURs have changed in concert with the transformations in the institutional structure of the economy. These include the organisations holding LURs (public, private or foreign), the terms of LURs and the method of allocation (via administrative means or the market). As a result of economic reforms since 1978, the market has become a principal mechanism for the allocation of LURs in state-owned (urban), but not in collectively-owned (rural) land. Legal market transactions in the latter remain stunted because of stringent restrictions on who can hold LURs in collectively-owned land. A perverse response to these restrictions is the emergence of an extra-legal market in “small rights” property houses, which are built on rural collective land and sold not to rural but to urban residents (those with “non-agricultural hukou”), in contravention of the law.
Given the feverish pace of urban development and the steady sprawl of towns and cities, compulsory acquisition of land is common. By its very nature it meets with opposition in the concerned population. But the discontent it arouses in the rural population is particularly acute and widespread. Compulsory acquisition includes not only the plots of cultivable land allotted to the rural population, but often their dwellings and adjoining lands as well. The discontent is magnified by the huge difference between the compensation received by rural households and the value of the acquired land once converted into state-owned land. The suspicion that corruption swallows up a significant part of the increased value adds further to the discontent.
The causes of the low compensation received by farmers are various. They fall into three categories: first, corruption by local officials, second, the portion taken by the collective institutions owning the land and, third, the division of public ownership of land and the restricted scope of collective ownership. The third issue is the most consequential.
Compared with state-owned (urban) land, transactions in LURs in collectively-owned land have two distinguishing features: first, markets play a minor role in their allocation; most of the transactions are conducted via administrative decisions. Second, they are subject to tight restrictions on who can hold LURs. Specifically only individuals or households with agricultural hukou are permitted to hold LURs in collectively-owned lands. These restrictions have the effect of lowering the value of LURs in collectively-owned land relative to those in state-owned land, which in turn lowers the compensation received by rural households.
This division between “collective” and “state-owned” is not an essential part of the public ownership of land; in fact, it is unusual. Rather than protecting the interests of farmers as originally intended, it works to their detriment in the context of a market economy. The distinction dates back to the 1950s, when it was used to classify institutions according to phases of development towards socialism. The distinction was also associated with differences in the mode of governance of rural and urban areas, including the preferential allocation of government funds to urban areas.
Like the hukou division of the population into “agricultural” and “non-agricultural”, the state/collective division of public property has outlived its original rationale and its consequences have changed with the development of a market economy. Initially, the designation "collective" was meant to indicate the stage of economic evolution and also to protect the interests of the rural population as a whole. The significance of the label "collective" has undergone major change. It no longer designates a stage of evolution because the evolutionary view of the development of society has lost its purchase; nor does it protect the interests of the rural population. On the contrary, with the development of a market economy the restrictions which go with the title "collective" now put the rural population at a disadvantage. The rural inhabitants receive only a tiny share of the huge capital gain that arises from the diversion of agricultural land for urban development.
Detailed findings on “expansion & accommodating greater population” may be found in D3.2 policy brief.
Theme 3: Infrastructure and services for sustainable urbanization: trends and policy support mechanisms
3a) Sustainable urbanization policy supporting mechanisms: scenarios
One of the key aims of this Theme relates to the exploration of scenario and storylines as policy mechanisms for sustainable urbanisation. The main achievement has been to carry out an indepth participatory process to develop a scenario space for Chinese urbanization, and then to define alternative storylines that were finally compared to recent scenario-building efforts. In the period 2011-2015, the Chinese government - in partnership with the World Bank and the United Nations, has produced several milestone studies and policy recommendations on its urbanisation process. We note four: 1) a study on the country’s urbanization challenges, jointly produced by the World Bank and the Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC) (World Bank and DRC 2013); 2) a second joint study to address another key development challenge: forging a new model of urbanization that can become more efficient, inclusive, and sustainable (by the World Bank and China’s Development Research Commission, in 2014); 3) a third study led by the UN Development Programme, examines the sustainable and liveable dimension of Chinese cities, and the notion of Ecological Urbanisation (by UNDP in 2013); and finally, 4) the “New Urbanization Plan, 2014-2020” approved in March by the State Council of the People's Republic of China, in 2014, represents the very first such plan for China.
The resulting policy brief is meant as a contribution towards exploring the concepts and methods for the envisioning of sustainable urban futures, and towards shaping the research agenda for this fundamental area of 21st century inquiry. It presents the results of a scenarios and storylines building exercise combining exploratory and normative approaches, and uses the resulting storylines to discuss and reflect on the nature and direction of the current policy discourse around China’s urban future, and on the implications of URBACHINA’s findings for sustainable urban futures. It also presents the results of an international conference organised to engage a wide range of scholars and practitioners from 28 countries on the theme of “Urban Futures Squaring Circles 2050: China, Europe, World” (held in Lisbon, 10-11 October 2014 – see section below on Dissemination).
The four main themes of URBACHINA, which have each been explored and discussed in dedicated workpackages, are brought together in this scenario building task, providing a privileged venue for their integration. Accordingly, the scenario building process has engaged the entire project team, and the nature and substance of the resulting storylines: Bamboo and Gingko, are inspired by the analysis of trends and resulting challenges uncovered by the four project themes.
Scale, speed, timing and timelines
Despite their different – and independent – origin, the six scenarios represented in the two studies (WB-DRC and UNDP) can be easily integrated into the URBACHINA scenario space. The two-dimensional scenario space (extent of policy reforms on the one hand, pace of the economic growth on the other) effectively captures the main driving uncertainties of sustainable urbanization, explored by the a) URBACHINA, b) UNDP, and c) Worldbank/DRC scenarios and storylines.
An interesting aspect of urban futures, discussed in all three studies, is the more or less radical governance transition and the associated policy reforms: business as usual is not an option, whether in terms of credibility or desirability, as shown by both the WB-DRC baseline and the UNDP “Moderate pace” scenarios, which are explicitly deemed insufficient to ensure a virtuous transition towards sustainable urbanization. On the other hand, all three studies confirm that the urbanization process can hardly be decoupled from - a more or less sustained – economic growth. Scale, speed and timing can then make the difference and are likely to ultimately characterize the governance transition towards more or less socially and ecologically sustainable urbanisation.
The WB-DRC “Reform” scenario offers many similarities with the URBACHINA “Bamboo” storyline. The main challenge they pose is the reconciliation of a sustained economic growth with an ambitious reform package, and one could wonder to what extent such a goal is realistically achievable. On the other hand, the WB-DRC time horizon is 2030, thus much closer than for Bamboo (2050), which could suggest that this WB-DRC scenario may be an illustration of a medium term step in the longer term transition towards a ”Bamboo future”.
A similar interpretation can be ventured for what concerns the comparison between the UNDP’s “Slower/liveability” scenario and the URBACHINA’s “Ginkgo”. The nature of the reform packages they propose is rather similar, and again we find grounds for a possible interpretation of “Slower/liveability” as the stepping-stone to “Gingko”, with the pace of economic growth further slowing down in the medium/long term (a realistic perspective). Although such transition could turn out to be less straightforward, considering the limited attention devoted by the UNDP option to issues such as the reduction of inequalities, and to the radical reorientation of the urban form/design and governance model, which feature as fundamental pillars of the Gingko storyline.
In fact, both the Bamboo and the Gingko exhibit as a distinct characterisation the recognition, in policy formulation, of the importance of preserving/enhancing cultural values and knowledge sharing as fundamental ingredients in the pursuance of long term urban visions where the wellbeing of citizens is the overarching objective.
Sustainability and lock-in
The overall sustainability of the alternative scenarios and storylines as they progress to 2030 and 2050 is an important overarching concern. It calls for a dynamic interpretation of the expected sustainability performance of the storylines over time, suggesting that in the longer term (2050), policies that would embrace a relative slow-down of GDP growth are likely to achieve a higher sustainability.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that scenarios are intended as a platform for inquiry, debate, and reflection about the multiple options and combination of measures that can best serve strategic aims. The adapted backcasting exercise, done as part of our research, is a good illustration of how this simple participatory method of scenario building can act, inter alia, as a form of strategic impact assessment, showing to policy makers in which direction existing strategic policies (such as the New Urbanisation Plan) may be leading them into the future. They help to ask the question: “where are we heading with these strategic policies?” and in doing so, to consider more complex and value based dimensions linked to “ultimate drivers”. They may also, crucially, help identify directions and policy measures that will lead to lock-in of patterns such as high-carbon urban design, or inefficient urban sprawl – which conflict with sustainability objectives.
Pushing boundaries and paradigms towards desirable futures
By combining a participatory iterative process with explorative, normative and envisioning dimensions, the URBACHINA forward looking process provides the possibility to question deeply ingrained development models. Proposing such an approach to envisioning the future in a context strongly influenced by plan-based policy and decision making – such as the Chinese one – added several challenges, and yet this limited experience confirms the power of scenario/storyline building as a means to reflect and learn.
In practice, the rigidity, and top down planning mode can partly inhibit envisioning and normative approaches to scenario building. This can lead to difficulties, and sometimes resistance, to imagine a future where some of the current prevailing features and constraints are removed or radically changed. This difficulty with highly differentiated possible futures leads, for example, to the incorrect definition (or perception) of some uncertainties as wild cards (e.g. the end of the Hukou system).
Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that when a radically alternative storyline (Ginkgo) is presented, framed with detailed attention to the character and peculiarity of the socio-economic, cultural and environmental context, the feedback is positive both in terms of plausibility and desirability. Ultimately, the aspiration transpiring from the experts’ feedback points towards a rather shared vision of “utopian” future.
The Brief also provides recommendations in terms of methodology, in terms of research priorities for urban futures and identifies Six major narratives for urban futures exploration.
Detailed findings on “Sustainable urbanization supporting mechanisms: scenarios” may be found in the Policy Brief D4.2.
3b) Sustainable urbanization trends
Urbanization is, and is intended to remain over the next decade, the main driver of China’s economic growth. Major concerns, however, arise from the externalities and diseconomies of urbanization, most of which are linked to the dispersed model of urban growth that cities have been predominantly following so far, and which is expected to intensify. Centripetal and centrifugal forces combine, leading to the formation of large regional urban systems. Policy priorities should thus focus around issues of efficiency and size of metropolitan areas, and of public and private investment of infrastructure and services. An understanding of the concept of ‘functional region’ recently advanced by international organizations and urban scholars, and an exploration of its potential application in China may lead to a new planning paradigm for the holistic development and efficient governance of large metropolitan regions, including rural areas, helping to combine multi-sectoral and multi-level approaches.
Moreover, the impacts of urban energy, transport and water systems on the environment, health and quality of life are closely linked to patterns of land use and urban form. Low-carbon cities and Eco-cities seem to offer a virtuous template for sustainable urban development, relying on planning instruments and models of spatial restructuring, such as Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and New Urbanism, as well as Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), energy-saving buildings and other smart city enabling technologies with impacts on urban form.
Land use and sprawl
Sprawl, or extensive fragmented development, the spatial result of the current dispersed model of urban growth, is responsible for uneconomic overextension of infrastructures and services due to leapfrog development, rapid loss of arable land, road congestion and increasing pollution. Policy and research priorities should address land-use and transportation issues, as well as best-practices to control urban sprawl. Land use has been managed in less than efficient ways. Inefficient patterns of land use increase the externalities of sprawl (energy waste, congestion, pollution, and human time lost). The use of zoning—a modernist practice acknowledged today in western countries as a planning liability—is widespread in China. Among many other problems, zoning (large mono-functional areas of specialized uses) promotes spatial segregation and aggravates socio-economic disparities. Policy and research priorities should look into urban land use efficiency (e.g. spatial planning techniques, urban and suburban restructuring, improving connectivity, brownfield redevelopment).
Urban form, spatial planning and urban design
Spatial planning and urban design are normative disciplines that will play a vital role in China’s future. Urban form has a strong impact on urban mobility, energy use and GHG emissions. Conversely, the environmental impacts of urban form can be controlled by design. Meanwhile, new players and new forms of engagement in planning processes are emerging in China, which suggests the need for new forms of urban governance. Policy and research priorities should engage in understanding the ways in which TOD, New Urbanism, and Smart Growth principles could be translated and applied in the Chinese context.
Low-carbon cities and Eco-cities
Low-carbon cities and Eco-cities are powerful metaphors for urban sustainability. However, it seems that in practical terms they have been little more than that. Unsustainable, large scale, urbanization continues to take place at very fast speed in China and yet, despite recent governmental announcements showing some concern with the environment, there is no clear policy to tackle the problem of urban carbon emissions. Policy and research priorities should try to make the case for the LCC model and develop measures for its implementation.
Energy demand is soaring in China (and expected to double between 2015 and 2025). The housing and transportation sectors are the main drivers of this demand, and the expected rate of growth on both sectors requires sturdy investments in renewable energies. There has been some progress in energy efficiency, but there is still a lot to do. The supply must evolve away from coal and the existing plants need to improve their efficiency. The energy market is evolving but needs further improvement. While the housing sector is a strong driver of energy demand, there are serious issues regarding the embedded waste of energy, resulting from the poor quality of buildings. Construction standards should be more firmly implemented, as buildings must meet energy-efficiency criteria (regarding insulation, windows, heating and cooling systems, etc.) as well as improve the quality of materials and construction techniques. The transportation sector is the other major driver of energy demand. Smart urban planning can make the difference and significantly cut energy demand. Policy and research priorities should address energy supply and demand of renewable and non-renewable sources, mechanisms to reduce demand, as well as issues related to energy-saving standards for buildings (e.g. LEED) and for whole neighbourhoods (e.g. LEED-ND).
Transportation represents a serious challenge to Chinese cities’ sustainability. Rising car ownership is increasing the consumption of energy, accelerating environmental degradation and causing health problems derived from air pollution, while road congestion is hurting the economy. There is little mobility to and from suburban areas, suggesting the need for large investments in mass-transit infrastructure. Concurrently, the strong tradition of non-motorized mobility in China seems in need of encouragement, while issues of social equity in mobility and transport are now entering the agenda. Transport demand management (TDM) policies are necessary but not sufficient: in order to be sustainable, urban transport needs to shift the focus from mobility (movement) to accessibility (access to goods, services, and activities). Policy and research priorities should thus explore current and projected transportation infrastructure investments (both mass-transit and roads), clean or ‘zero emission’ fleets, non-motorized mobility and intelligent transportation systems (ITS). Transit-oriented development (TOD) links transportation issues with the themes of land use and low-carbon cities; evaluating the applicability of this model to the Chinese city seems essential.
Water supply in Chinese cities faces severe quality and quantity issues (demand is expected to increase by 70-100% by 2025). Water shortages are common and, due to pollution and a lack of adequate sewage and solid waste treatment facilities, the quality of drinking water is frequently below international potable standards, which poses serious threats for public health. Recent outbreaks of illnesses, including cancers, associated with the consumption of heavily polluted water, as well as frequent water-related environmental disasters are spurring social unrest. Moreover, constraints on water supply are hurting the economy. Wastewater treatment facilities in China are mainly geared towards pollution prevention and not towards recycling and commercialization of treated water (an untapped resource). Water resources management is dispersed by too many agencies at all levels of government, and water laws are outdated, weak, and scantily enforced. The main driver of demand is agriculture followed by residential and industrial usages. Policy and research priorities should focus not only on water supply and demand (in these three sectors), including new approaches such as desalination, but also on the requirements in terms of wastewater and solid waste treatment facilities, and a better understanding of energy-water-environment interactions, such as the embodied in the requirements of hydraulic and hydroelectric infrastructure.
Natural resources are finite resources, and their fast depletion, either due to the demands of urbanization, or to its externalities (e.g. pollution, waste) results in the loss of essential ecosystem services. Fast increases on resource extraction and material consumption (partly driven by urbanization trends), are putting pressure on global resource reserves and ecological capacities. Depletion of natural resources is also associated with social inequity. If natural resources are to be envisioned as “natural capital” a market-based policy approach could turn out to be a key corrective measure (as advocated, inter alia, by various United Nations agencies), for as long as there is no market for ecosystem services, private entities and governments are free-riders who consume natural assets without meeting externality costs, or the costs of sustainable management of ecosystems. The Chinese leadership is aware of these facts. However, improved regulation and incentives are greatly needed for a better management of natural resources such as water, soil, fossil fuels, forests and biodiversity. Policy and research priorities should address environmental protection/conservation policies, with a particular focus on how resource management affects the quality of life in urban areas and surroundings, taking into consideration the interests of both present and future generations.
Pollution and health
Besides water pollution (see above), and the rising levels of solid waste, air pollution (especially NO, SO2 and CO2 emissions) is a very serious problem in Chinese cities – and one that has attracted significant national and international media attention; emissions of air pollutants are expected to rise, with harmful consequences for human health and economic productivity. The quality of air indoors and of air conditioning systems is also a health concern. Health implications are, in turn, linked to the highly sensitive issue of unequal distribution of benefits (and costs) of economic development: a theme often discussed under the label of environmental justice in the USA and in western countries. It is thus indispensable to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and transportation systems, as well as enforce more stringent industrial pollution regulation in order to reduce emissions, mitigate climate change, and reduce health impacts. Policy and research priorities on this theme should be closely related to the priorities on the key themes of urbanization, transportation, energy, water, natural resources, and public health impacts.
Detailed findings on “Environment, infrastructure and services” may be found in the Background Document to the Policy Brief D4.2.
Theme 4: Urban communities and social sustainability
The main achievements of urban development in China must first be noted. Expansion, renewal and refurbishment of urban housing stock has improved the quality of housing for most urban locally registered residents, established and new, in terms of space per person, internal kitchen and bathroom, utilities and waste removal. Residents had few if any complaints about provision of social services and provision of utilities and waste removal. Green, landscaped spaces and squares, small and large, are well used by residents. This is one of the great achievements of Chinese urban planning and landscaping.
But the enormous and fast growth of urban built-up areas has involved serious disruption of lifestyles and neighborliness, and entailed much involuntary dislocation.
China’s urban redevelopment of inner city areas and expansion into rural areas has been led by property development for commercial gain, regulated by policy and planning. It has more recently been subject to a policy of social management and a greater emphasis on provision of social housing. But in all its phases it has been destructive of both urban and rural senses of neighborhood and community. Materially it has destroyed the housing and landmarks that focused and carried senses of place. Socially it has dispersed people who had lived as neighbors.
There was deliberate and desirable destruction of old inner city overcrowded housing with poorly maintained and shared facilities but also of unplanned but well built and relatively new housing in rural suburbs.
Top-down regulation, policies of economic growth, property development and planning control have not only caused destruction and loss. They have also included top-down replacement of work unit with local, territorial administration of social security and a top-down project to develop (among the disrupted and dislocated) new senses of neighbourhood in urban ‘communities’ (shequ).
Problems of representation, of division of responsibilities of RC staff and property management, of lack of participation, and the formation of property owners’ associations
We note that in the transition from village to urban governance, village elections cease and in the place of village representative committees and the village Party and its secretary, a top-down initiative is taken to create what is meant eventually to be an instrument of urban self-governance, the Residents’ Committee and the same community’s Party committee. The initiative for their formation is from the upper levels of municipal government, the sub- district or Street (jiedao), and the Party.
In all but one of our field sites (an old work-unit area in Chongqing held up as a model), even long-established inner city ‘communities’, we have found that participation in elections to the RC is far less than in villages, and is usually nominal (literally, since candidates are closely vetted by the Street government and selected by the Party staff of the RC, in some cases with the help of already-selected stair or block representatives). Nominations of one extra for every five gives the appearance of choice, but after the first flush of RC formation when the Street government and Party devoted considerable energy to mobilising residents to vote, less than a third of residents now vote.
In the recent past, village committees continued in existence as managers of the housing owned by villagers within and alongside urban communities, the so-called ‘urban villages’. There is now a concerted implementation of policy to complete the transition, but the costs in compensation are high and the process slow. In newly urbanised peripheral districts, RCs and village committees work alongside each other, ex-villagers preferring to rely on their village committees.
Paid staff, including elected representatives whose pay is called an ‘allowance’, often sit next to staff who are social workers carrying out the administration of welfare for the Ministry of Civil Affairs in the work stations within RC offices; elsewhere they are in separate offices. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the two kinds of staff. RC staff are anyway burdened with tasks assigned to them by the Street and must work jointly with the police in surveillance, via building representatives, registering population changes, including rural-urban migrant tenancies. This extends to responsibility to the municipal department of Housing and Development to control unauthorised commercial businesses, on ground floors and street stalls, even though the department has its own touring surveillance vehicles. These businesses can be the subject of residents’ complaints about noise and litter and smells. Some low-income urban-registered households are helped by the RC or just allowed to run small businesses as ways of remaking a livelihood, but this is still highly restricted.
We have also found that the management of public property – cleaning and gardening of open spaces, clearing up dog faces, security, parking, repairs of the fabric of residence blocks and stair-wells and of public utilities and waste disposal – is a problem of a division of responsibility between the RCs and the Property Management Companies. In some communities the RC is responsible for all this. In another case we have noted that the Property Management Company because of its closer relation to residents has been given the responsibility of registering changes in population. The RC workstation is responsible through the Street to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, whereas the Property Management Company is responsible to the Housing Management Bureau under the Ministry of Housing and Rural and Urban Development.
For these objective reasons of a lack of clear lines of responsibility, and because servicing of utilities is the responsibility of neither RCs or PMCs but of utility companies, residents are passed from one agency to the other without having complaints properly dealt with. RC and Property Management Company (PMC) staff blame residents’ subjective expectations, bred by what they have been used to from work units or villages, that their RC or PMC will deal with everything. This will change over time.
More serious are the many complaints of residents about lack of maintenance, lack of cleaning, lack of security (mainly petty theft) and lack of control of parking. PMC and RC staff acknowledge that they do not have the human resources to provide these because they are overworked (and underpaid) and because residents refuse to or cannot afford to pay higher management fees.
Residents who on taking up residence have paid deposits into the major repair fund complain of its not being used and when they have demanded sight of accounts, including this fund, they have been denied.
The major repair fund is in fact deposited with and supervised by the Housing Management Bureau, not the Property Management Company. Use of it has to follow these steps: 1) The PMC puts up a proposal; 2) A Property Owners’ Association (POA) of the local residents approves it; 3) Public notice of works is issued; 4) If there is no objection an application is sent to the Housing Bureau and granted; 5) The PMC undertakes the task. Without a POA, it is nearly impossible to use the fund, even when it is necessary, for instance in replacing an elevator in one of our cases.
The formation of a property-owners association (POA) is favoured for different reasons by Street governments, PMCs, and residents. By Street governments because a POA would help mediate between residents and RCs and PMCs and help the latter educate residents. By PMCs to improve communications with residents and to gain access to the major repair fund. By residents because they would be a means of selecting a new property management company and increase the transparency of PMC accounts. In fact, property owners’ associations have been formed successfully only in the better off commercial estates, whose residents are able and willing to pay higher fees and therefore are provided with better security and the other services. But even in one of these that we investigated, fees had not changed for ten years and residents refused to pay more despite inflation of the costs of security, maintenance etc.
We are left therefore with the conclusion that there is an endemic problem of complaint and lack of clarity of responsibility in the management of the maintenance and security of public areas of the housing of low- to middle-income residents.
RC staff have told us how they are despised and considered insignificant by higher-income residents who consider themselves to be more civilized. This is reinforced by the fact that the new social-work trained staff are, like social workers the world over, predominantly female, and all but one of the heads of RCs in our case studies are female. The history of the RC as the replacement of earlier Street and neighborhood community volunteers who performed tasks of family planning, surveillance, neighborhood watch and some traffic control, in which nearly all the volunteers were retired women, reinforces this gender division. Most volunteers working with the RCs are still mainly retired women. Therefore both RC staff, representatives and their most active volunteers are women and relatively marginalized, just as the people who depend on them, the poor, disabled and elderly, are. For RC staff their only compensation is a professional career. But as with all professions in China, including those of architects and planners, their own professional standards are often over-ridden.
Disparities among types of housing
The result of rising income inequalities and of fast urban expansion, propelled by the local municipal governments’ reliance on land sale profits and property developers’ fees, has been differentiation into several types of housing, each with its own architectural style and residential neighborhood. These are, in descending order of income:
1) Old city centre housing, such as the alleyway and courtyard housing of imperial and early-republican Chinese style, early twentieth-century housing including lanes and tenements, and the overseas-Chinese or foreign-built housing in coastal cities and riverine treaty port cities. What remains of these has been either redeveloped or rebuilt into expensive commercial and residential districts, privately owned.
2) New city-centre and suburban luxury high-rise apartments or villas in walled and patrolled gated estates, run by property developers or their management companies and privately owned and sometimes let.
3) Less expensive commercial housing, with less space per person, in similar estates of high- and low-rise apartment blocks, also run by management companies but with fewer resources and so with less provision of security, cleaning, and greening; privately owned, and sometimes let.
4) Relocated farmers whose land has been requisitioned, in their own-built or further relocated compensation housing, often far larger than needed for their own needs, and often let.
5) Economic housing, which is subsidised by local, municipal government, so that lower-income households can afford to buy apartments in this yet lower standard, in terms of space, quality of materials, environs, and standard of property management; adequate housing in city suburbs, superior to the old and decayed housing from which residents have had to move; privately owned and often then sold on the market or let at far higher prices and rates.
6) Public-rental housing blocks and estates, another form of social housing built by the municipal government, with the tenant’s option to buy after a period of years but to sell only back to the municipality; managed by the rental company of the local government.
7) Work unit housing, let or sold to tenants. These are housing units, single buildings or several blocks built in the 1980s and 1990s by on-going work units, themselves or through property developers, for their workers, now ex-workers since the closures of state owned enterprises. Many rooms let or sublet to rural-urban migrants.
8) Old work unit housing, with worse utilities, shared kitchens and bathrooms and lavatories, more cramped sleeping quarters, and not well maintained, compared with all the previous types, some still owned by a work unit even when it has ceased to be an industrial enterprise, some let, others cheaply sold to the tenants, often sub-let or let in very dense, shared accommodation to rural-urban migrants.
9) Urban villages, some of them near city centres, long absorbed, others in the new suburbs, the houses still owned by the ex-villagers and let at similar low rents but in very cramped, shared accommodation to rural-urban migrants.
Clear lines of segregation have emerged between housing types and social classes.
Suburban accommodation for the relocated and for ex-farmers without jobs are separate from expensive nearby suburban estates and blocks for high-income and skilled employees of local enterprises, universities and other public work units.
Walled and exclusive estates of luxury dwellings for like-life-style residents are kept and keep themselves separate from other urban communities, even though for their services they often depend on migrant workers. These service workers and some of the newly-rich who bring their rural parents to look after their children in such estates are deplored by more established residents as being of low quality and mistreating the gardens.
These luxury estates may be in inner-city areas as well as greener suburbs. With their RCs and property-owners’ associations and accountable property managers, they are sharply separated from lower- middle-income communities.
There is nevertheless some mixing of the residents from these different housing types, principally in street markets and shopping malls. Poorer migrants as temporary residents are often stigmatized, but more settled migrants actually provide the stalls and services where residents mix. Nevertheless, housing segregation is in danger of becoming permanent as facilities of schooling and medicine and cultural facilities are divided by their different qualities and adequacy.
Detailed findings on “Urban communities and social sustainability” may be found in D5.2 policy brief.
Sharing their results and helping Chinese stakeholders to better understand and address urban sustainability questions were the main motivations of UrbaChina members.
During the project’s duration, the Consortium has made its best to always connect their research to stakeholders’ reality.
1. Dissemination activities
Urbachina members have been fully committed to share their results throughout the project. They paid great attention to disseminate their findings by attending conferences, operating a website and a blog and writing articles. Also, they have shared results communicated about their activities with a large range of stakeholders.
• Conferences and events
During the past four years, members of the UrbaChina consortium attended or organized several events; there were some opportunities to share their results to scholars and stakeholders.
In addition to the annual UrbaChina international conferences, which took place in Beijing, Rome, Kunming, Chongqing and Paris, Consortium members organized other events. A major conference was the “Urban Futures-Squaring Circles Europe-China-World, 2050” held in Lisbon, in October 2014 attracting more than 150 individuals from 28 countries. Other smaller-scale workshops were organized by some partners of the Consortium.
Three major UrbaChina events: UrbaChina third conference in Kunming, 2013, UrbaChina fourth conference in Chongqing, 2014 and UrbaChina final conference in Paris, 2015 were organized in cooperation with a local institution (Yunnan University, the University of Chongqing, and Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, respectively) in order to increase UrbaChina’s visibility and associate local researchers to these events.
As part of URBACHINA’s work on scenarios, WP4 also organised an International Conference in October 2014: Urban Futures Squaring Circles 2050: China, Europe, World. This was a very successful event (170 participants from 28 countries), and led to several outputs that can be found online: http://www.ufsc2050.ics.ul.pt/ including a new research agenda. This initiative was an additional Task that was added and agreed by the Consortium in the meeting in Paris (at CNRS’ offices) in December 2013.
The main results of the conference include:
• Book of Abstracts: Published on paper and as eBook: http://www.ufsc2050.ics.ul.pt/?page_id=398
• Book of Keynotes: Published on paper and as eBook: http://www.ufsc2050.ics.ul.pt/?page_id=398
• Keynotes powerpoints online: http://www.ufsc2050.ics.ul.pt/?page_id=398
• Keynotes videos forthcoming (thanks to FCG) – we had a technical problem, but they will be posted here: http://www.ufsc2050.ics.ul.pt/?page_id=398
• Book of Proceedings: Published as eBook http://www.ufsc2050.ics.ul.pt/?page_id=400
• UFSC Highlights: http://www.ufsc2050.ics.ul.pt/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Highlights-UFSC2050.pdf
• UFSC Research Agenda: http://www.ufsc2050.ics.ul.pt/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/6-UFSC2050-draft-research-questions-11Oct14.pdf
• Wide dissemination of the above results, including through the European Commissions own website. We have also presented the Conference results at the final Conference (Paris 15 January 2015) of URBACHINA – the EU-funded project from which this initiative first arose.
All results were made available online, free of charge on our website: http://www.ufsc2050.ics.ul.pt/
Members of UrbaChina project also attended other events not organized by the Consortium itself. For example, several researchers attended the EU-China Joint Workshop in Foshan, Guangdong in May 2013, they also attended the 16th EU-China Summit in November 2013, and took part in the sub-forum devoted to EU-China cooperation in urbanization in Beijing.
Researchers involved in UrbaChina also gave presentations at local academic institutions in the cities studied by the consortium.
Most of UrbaChina conferences’ results and/or presentations were made available online in our blog. These events helped UrbaChina members identify local stakeholders and academics that would give them advice on their research.
• The UrbaChina blog
One of the main dissemination tools implemented by the team of researchers was the UrbaChina blog (http://urbachina.hypotheses.org). Although this blog was not planned in the DoW, it has become the backbone of UrbaChina’s communication activities.
On this blog, visitors could find information about most of the activities carried out by UrbaChina members: conferences, fieldtrip results, papers (articles and working papers) releases were all announced to readers. This blog was an efficient way to exchange ideas and discuss with readers and stakeholders.
In addition to UrbaChina’s activities, the blog contains articles, calls for conferences, interviews, book release announcements related to China’s urbanisation. A special emphasis was given to open access resources. Most of the articles mentioned in the blog were available free online.
More than 5,000 unique readers visited this blog every month. We received comments from well-known academics but also other individuals interested in China’s urbanisation.
The blog was supplemented with a weekly newsletter distributed to 500 subscribers.
The UrbaChina team also operated a website (www.urbachina.eu) mainly used to describe the consortium and its activities and to announce conferences.
• Dissemination and Open access
Since its beginning, the UrbaChina consortium paid great attention to make its results available to a large audience. An open archive providing images of the four cities under study in the UrbaChina project (Shanghai, Huangshan city, Chongqing, Kunming) was created on MediHAL (https://medihal.archives-ouvertes.fr/URBACHINA). A collection of working papers was also set up on HAL, the French open archive for academic deposits run by CNRS (https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/FP7/).
Open access increases our visibility: most of the deposited documents (images and working papers) are available on “google scholar”;
• Media attention
During the project’s duration, UrbaChina’s activities were regularly reported by media to the academic and general audiences.
A few examples of media coverage of the UrbaChina project include: Chongqing Youth News (http://urbachina.hypotheses.org/10141) China Daily (http://urbachina.hypotheses.org/5557) Chongqing TV (http://urbachina.hypotheses.org/10034) Huangshan government’s website (http://www.hsqepb.gov.cn/E_ReadNews.asp?NewsID=2172).
When interviewed on other topics, members of the consortium often mentioned their involvement in the UrbaChina project as well as the essential role of the project for the smooth development of the research activities.
• Further development
Furthermore, the end of the UrbaChina project does not mean that the activities of this network will be concluded. Some of the members of UrbaChina’s consortium are considering launching another online platform from where they will be able to continue monitoring issues related to sustainable urbanization in China, as well as preserving and even enhance their cooperation with Chinese researchers.
Likewise, new working papers based on UrbaChina’s latest results will be released to the public in the coming months.
Several stakeholders have been identified during the UrbaChina project for further EU-China cooperation projects. This is for example the case of the University of Chongqing. Although this academic institution was not an official member of UrbaChina, the consortium has developed strong links with it. In May 2014, the University of Chongqing hosted the UrbaChina 4th International Conference.
In addition, stakeholders listed in D6.3 will receive several policy briefs regarding the consortium’s findings.
At last, the UrbaChina members will be glad to share their experience with future EU-China cooperation projects in order to make their cooperation even more fruitful.
2. UrbaChina’s impacts on China’s urbanization issues and ways toward sustainable urbanization
It is difficult to evaluate the direct impact of the UrbaChina project and its researchers’ findings regarding sustainable urbanisation in China.
Most of the issues and solutions described by the UrbaChina members have also been identified by other researchers and stakeholders in China and in the rest of the world. For instance, the scenarios developed by the UrbaChina team are quite similar to the ones prepared by the World Bank. However, UrbaChina’s findings emphasizethe importance of governance, good practices and social integration over “hard” infrastructures.
The ultimate goal of a sustainable urbanization model for China is a long term objective that cannot be reached in a single day. It requires time and reforms. The UrbaChina project should then be regarded as a first step towards a stronger EU-China cooperation on urbanization issues, and offers some recommendations that hopefully will be taken into account by both Chinese and international stakeholders.
• Impacts on education
The UrbaChina consortium paid attention to education as it considered that it is from here that solutions to China’s sustainable urbanization challenges could first emerge.
One of the main tasks fulfilled by the consortium has been to carry out a comparative review of a sample of post-graduate level curricula in urban studies in Europe (EU), China (CN) and the Rest of the World (RoW), in order to examine how current post-graduate programs in urban studies are preparing the next wave of city-shapers, and ask the core question: how are sustainable challenges to urban development being acknowledged and addressed in post-graduate (master level) urban studies programs across the world?
We analysed and compared 25 graduate programmes for urbanisation studies in China (9 programmes), Europe (8) and in the rest of the world (8), using netnography and a survey to explore the following dimensions of each programme:
• Programs’ overall orientation
• Educational skills that will enable future graduates to promote SUD
• Objectives and subject matters supporting: SUD; an ethical perspective; and the need for interdisciplinarity
• Sustainability topics covered by Core & Elective Courses
• Dominant typologies of courses
Despite global convergence in USE, and in particular in USE for SUD, with its requirements of interdisciplinarity, ethical values, critical thinking, and so on, there cannot be – and in fact it is not desirable – a one-world approach, or even a regional (European, Chinese, etc.) regulation of the USE academic programs. Their role and objectives are understood differently from country to country, as a function of national university systems, planning institutions, political milieus, legal regulation, recognition of professions, and so on. Therefore, to move from academic knowledge to planning action in the real world, USE needs to adapt to regional characteristics, local challenges, and national systems and regulations. However, considering the universally recognized need for embedding sustainability and SUD in USE, as discussed in our review of the literature, this comparative study was helpful to identify general elements of good practice as well as major strengths and weaknesses of academic programs in urban studies in the three regions. In light of these, it is possible to advance several recommendations that can potentially improve University level curricula in USE for SUD.
In general, urban studies programs in the three regions could benefit from:
• providing more direct international experience to its post-graduate students;
• stressing the importance of interdisciplinarity in the curricula;
• addressing multiculturalism and gender issues as a key urban themes;
• putting some more weight in the relation between the economy and the built and natural environment.
Details of the analysis and recommendations can be found in Deliverable D6.2: University Graduate Syllabi for Urban Studies: a comparative perspective: China, EU, World.
Academic institutions in China and Europe
The UrbaChina project was an opportunity for Chinese and European partners to cooperate an exchange about their research methods. Both parties have learnt from each other and have made their methodology more adapted toresearch studies on this area.
The UrbaChina programme involved a great number of Ph.d students with focus on China. For most of them, this programme was their first experience with a large international cooperation project. The UrbaChina project has broadened their views and enlarged their research network, equipping them with invaluable research tools that could be of great use for future EU-China academic cooperation.
• Impacts on the scientific community
China’s urbanization and issues related to sustainable development have become hot topics of interest for the scientific community worldwide.
During the project’s duration, UrbaChina members pursued efforts to share their findings and confront their results with the scientific community.
First of all, well-known scholars were invited to Urbachina’s conferences, where they could intervene and dialogue with consortium members.
The Consortium also set up ascientific committee whose members gave some important advice on the direction researchers should follow to conduct their study. The scientific committee was chaired by Prof. Dwight Perkins (Harvard University) and included both Chinese and foreign experts.
UrbaChina members produced several documents with scientific content.
A collective book is about to get published (fall 2015) by Edward Elgar, this book will contain articles written by UrbaChina members and other scholars.
In addition to this collective book, several UrbaChina partners have published (or are about to publish) articles in scientific journals in the domains of urban studies and sustainable development (e.g. Environment and planning C.).
The UrbaChina blog succeeded in producing impact among the scientific community. Thus, several short posts published on the UrbaChina blog were then quoted in scientific articles or books.
Book reviews made by UrbaChina members and posted on the blog were also cited by authors.
The UrbaChina blog editing team also received several demands from other scholars involved in the study of China’s urbanization to announce academic events (conferences, workshops). This testifies to the credibility of the UrbaChina blog and its consortium.
• Impacts on stakeholders
Although UrbaChina members were mostly scholars, they paid great attention to disseminate their results not only to the scientific community but also beyond academic circles.
Research and interviews were not only conducted at universities but also in companies, governmental offices, local resident’s houses. Researchers made their best to adopt a very integrative approach and also tried to understand the consequences of China’s urbanization with a special focus on the Chinese society.
The consortium set up a stakeholders committee which met at several international conferences.
The stakeholders committee gathered experts from different backgrounds including law, IT, architecture, etc. Its main role was to scrutinize the activities performed by consortium members and to give some advice to help researchers formulate practical solutions to China’s urbanization challenges.
Moreover, in addition to academic articles, a series of working papers has been produced and made available on open access at https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/FP7/
These working papers are shorter than academic articles and can provide practical information to stakeholders in China and Europe, and therefore their scope is not only academic.
Document (D6.3) lists the main stakeholders interviewed/contacted during the project’s duration. Policy briefs and working papers written by UrbaChina members will be sent to the listed institutions.
• Impacts on Eu-China cooperation
The UrbaChina project may be considered as the first large-scale project on urban studies carried out in cooperation between Europe and China.
Urbanisation and the search for sustainable development have become crucial targets for China’s government (and for the rest of the world). It is very likely that there will be a growing demand from China for cooperation with other countries.
Chinese members of the Consortium and Chinese stakeholders met/interviewed during the project lifetime showed great interest in Europe’s answer to similar questions.
UrbaChina members tried to answer to this demand by the implementation of two international conferences in Europe, and two workshops in Paris.
During the project’s duration, UrbaChina members made their best to boost EU-China cooperation in urban studies. In November 2013, they attended the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership Forum held in Beijing.
Likewise, they gave presentations to several Chinese institutions where they used European city cases. They also adopted a Europe-China comparative approach in the papers they published.
This has been reflected in the collective book, where most articles are written by a couple of Chinese and European authors.
• Impacts on sustainable urbanization in China and scenario building
Scenarios developed by the UrbaChina members on the future urban trends in China have been presented to Chinese stakeholders at several workshops. These scenarios have been validated by stakeholders, this shows that Consortium’s research results and the formulated hypotheses are plausible.
Sustainable urbanization in China
The UrbaChina project’s outputs insist on the need for China to continue implementing reforms, to address inequality issues and to better integrate urban residents.
UrbaChina highlights the importance of the societal dimension of urban sustainability.
Although UrbaChina’s outputs are unlikely to have a direct impact on China’s urban affairs, the project makes its contribution to the development of sustainable urbanization in China and should serve to better enhance the EU-China cooperation on sustainability issues.
List of Websites:
UrbaChina website is available at: www.urbachina.eu
UrbaChina blog is available at: http://urbachina.hypotheses.org
Urbachina working paper series is available at: http://urbachina.hypotheses.org/collection-of-working-papers
UrbaChina photo collection is available at: https://medihal.archives-ouvertes.fr/URBACHINA/
Grant agreement ID: 266941
1 March 2011
28 February 2015
€ 3 362 438,41
€ 2 697 060
CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
Deliverables not available
Grant agreement ID: 266941
1 March 2011
28 February 2015
€ 3 362 438,41
€ 2 697 060
CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
Grant agreement ID: 266941
1 March 2011
28 February 2015
€ 3 362 438,41
€ 2 697 060
CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS