China’s New Suburban Reality: An Attempt to Systematically Define the Chinese Suburb
The Chinese urban landscape has changed remarkably in the last two decades. Inner city redevelopment or renovation projects have resulted in massive demolition and displacement in many cities, while large-scale residential development projects in suburban areas have taken over land formerly utilized exclusively for farming or industry. These suburban projects have led to the loss of farmland, the relocation of former villagers, and massive housing consumption by middle-class Chinese. The two parallel processes of urban redevelopment and suburban development have totally transformed China’s urban landscape. Two main types of urban fringe have been produced or shaped in the last two decades: (i) the “rural–urban conjunction area,” “rural–urban fringe zone,” or “chengxiang jiehebu,” and (ii) the “suburb.” Important parts of China’s new urban reality, these two types of suburb provide two radically different ways of life. This chapter focuses on these two urban fringe areas, analyzes how China’s new suburban reality has been produced and shaped, discusses how local people “speak” about the urban fringe, and depicts how suburbanites actually live in the newly built environment. Only by situating China’s new suburban reality in historical context can we understand the radical difference between suburbia in China and that in the West. China’s suburbia is an integrated part of China’s urban system, which does not (and probably will never) support an independent suburban way of life.
KeywordsChina Suburb Suburbanization Suburban way of life Regionalism Rural–urban fringe zone
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