PEM Seminar Series -Dr Yimin Zhao, Renmin University of China: Jiehebu urbanism: The urban metamorphosis of green belt in Beijing
|Starts:||12:00 4 Nov 2020|
|Ends:||14:00 4 Nov 2020|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||Manchester Urban Institute|
|Speaker:||Yimin Zhao, PhD|
The genealogy of Beijing’s green belt is presented in this paper to explore rationales and ethos of planning discourses on the one hand and, on the other, their interconnections with urban politicoeconomic dynamics in China. As an idea produced in the Western planning canon, the “green belt” was inserted into Beijing’s master plan through a critical conjuncture involving modernity, urban space and the national ethos. It was first adopted in the 1958 plan of the city, where a socialistutopian vision of the urban space loomed large. In reality, however, it turned out that this belt was by and large imaginary, appearing only on the plan map. In the Maoist era, it was mainly occupied by peasants and their vegetable fields, a space conceptualised by urban planners as the urban-rural juncture (Chengxiang Jiehebu, ?????). This Jiehebu area, however, immediately became the new urban frontier in the 1980s when China was en route to be a “market society,” attracting the arrival of millions of migrant workers from elsewhere. With a significantly changing demographic pattern and the scarcity in infrastructures and social services, this area was gradually labelled by the local people as being “dirty, messy and disappointing,” defying the city’s vision of building up a “worldclass and harmonious metropolis.” Appealing again to the idea of the green belt, Beijing Municipal Government has since 1994 been adopting a series of policy guidelines to transform Jiehebu area in light of their imaginations of being modern and international. Instead of being able to make this area genuinely “green,” however, the local state has established a new frontier of the urban political
economy where tremendous land revenues have been collected, partly through the socio-spatial reordering in Jiehebu. The green belt is hence turned into a discursive framework for the state-led and land-based urban accumulation – and its urban metamorphosis becomes evident accordingly.
Keywords: urban process, urban political economy, planning discourse, green belt, China
Yimin Zhao, PhD
Role: Assistant Professor
Organisation: Renmin University of China
Biography: Yimin Zhao is Assistant Professor in Urban Planning and Management at Renmin University of China. He uses urban ethnography to understand power relations and state dynamics in the urban process. His current research develops along two lines of inquiry, one focusing on the urban mechanisms of “Global China” (in collaboration with researchers at the LSE and Monash Malaysia) and the other looking into the infrastructural lives of authoritarianism in Beijing.
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