China’s Urban Century
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China’s Urban Century

Governance, Environment and Socio-Economic Imperatives

Edited by François Gipouloux

The achievements of China’s urbanization should not be evaluated solely in terms of adequate infrastructures, but also in their ability to implement sound governance practices to ensure social, environmental and economic development. This book addresses several key challenges faced by Chinese cities, based on the most recent policies and experiments adopted by central and local governments. The contributors offer an interdisciplinary analysis of the urbanization process in China, and examine the following key topics: the institutional foundations of Chinese cities, the legal status of the land, the rural to urban migration, the preservation of the urban heritage and the creation of urban community, and the competitiveness of Chinese cities. They define the current issues and challenges emerging from China’s urbanization.
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Chapter 13: The formation of governmental community and the closure of housing classes

Stephan Feuchtwang, Zhang Hui and Paula Morais


This chapter is organized into two major topics, urban community governance and planning, particularly spatial planning, and draws from both a reasoned conclusion on recurrent problems. Street offices and neighbourhood residents’ committees had from the 1950s been organizations of the work and urban life that remained outside the walled work–life compounds (danwei) that became the main units of urban social organization, except for a brief episode during the Great Leap Forward (1958–61) when streets became urban People’s Communes. Street offices organized neighbourhood factories; residents’ committees were locals who volunteered to maintain order, mediate disputes, note the presence of strangers, and implement family planning. In 1979, the National People’s Congress reaffirmed the Organizational Regulations of Urban Residents’ Committees as ‘grass-roots mass autonomous organizations for the self-management, self-education, and self-service of the residents’. In 1989, this Organic Law was fully ratified (Juminweiyuanhui Zuzhi Fa, 1989), rationalizing street and residents’ committees into a set of jurisdictions with clearer responsibilities of administration and of ‘community’ (shequ) formation, reducing the number and increasing the sizes of residents’ committees (Wu, 2002). In fact, on the ground the size and population of residents’ committees (juweihui, RCs henceforth) vary enormously. They are anything but standardized.

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