Neighbourhood Governance in Urban China
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Neighbourhood Governance in Urban China

Edited by Ngai-Ming Yip

As the economy and society of China has become more diversified, so have its urban neighbourhoods. The last decade has witnessed a surge in collective action by homeowners in China against the infringement of their rights. Research on neighbourhood governance is sparse and limited so this book fills a vital gap in the literature and understanding.
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Chapter 3: Neighbourhood governance and the creation of urban commons in China

Limei Chen


Private neighbourhoods, which include condominiums, cooperatives and planned-unit developments (PUD), share two essential features: institutionalized private governance and the private provision of public goods and services (McKenzie, 1994, 19; McKenzie, 2003, 204-5). The club theory has been widely accepted to rationalize the emergence and spread of the private governance institution based on the collective use of common elements and services and the sharing of costs among homeowners (Foldvary, 1994; Manzi and Smith-Bowers, 2005; Wu, 2005; Webster and Glasze, 2006; Lee and Webster, 2006). However, in Mainland China, many private neighbourhoods, which are under the legal regulation of the Real Right Law, have no private governance institution, in the form of 'homeowners' assembly' (yezhudahui) and a board of directors, the 'homeowners' committee' (yeweihui). Why does private governance not coexist with private service provision in many neighbourhoods in China? This chapter first reviews the club theory and theory of the commons, and analyses the conditions of private neighbourhoods in China. This is followed by a review of the history of the emergence and evolution of the condominium institution in China, which points out that the specificity of the way housing services were privatized determines the vagueness of the property rights of common elements in neighbourhoods and explains its successive problematic implementation of condominium institutions in most private neighbourhoods. This chapter attempts to provide a framework for the understanding of private neighbourhoods in China.

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