Author Archives: Elliot

Legacy of the Rural-Urban Divide: Urban Villages (城中村)

One of the more unique features of Chinese cities is the phenomenon of “urban villages”. These are former rural areas that, with rapid urbanization and rural-urban migration, have been enveloped by ever expanding cities. What once was farmland is sold … Continue reading

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Beijing’s Urban Form Conundrum

For all the capital’s draws as a center of history, culture and politics, and despite the palpable sense of energy that comes from being at the heart of a country on the rise, Beijing is not a particularly livable city. … Continue reading

Posted in Environment, Urbanization | Leave a comment

Of Gifts and Returns

China is a gift giving culture, no more so than at Spring Festival. In addition to red envelopes of cash (红包), given usually to children but also passed among older family members, when visiting relatives and friends in the days … Continue reading

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Words, Art and Meaning: Han Meilin 韩美林

Han Meilin (韩美林), in addition to being the artist behind the mascots for the Beijing Olympics, is noteworthy for his freestyle approach to Chinese calligraphy. He often morphs between somewhat identifiable characters and brush strokes resembling people or animals. To me it’s a reflection on … Continue reading

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Utopian Futurism

On the northwest edge of Beijing is an exhibition center sitting on the site of what will be the Changping District Technology Innovation City. Inside is a scale model of a new development where buses run on special paths, gleaming … Continue reading

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90s Punk Rock: He Yong (何勇)

There’s a minor punk and hardcore metal scene in China, mostly centered in Beijing and Shanghai. It seems only fitting that just about the only alternative to sing-songy ballads and western-imitation pop is music that often rejoices in being inaccessible … Continue reading

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Of Buildings and Real-Estate

Construction, real-estate, and housing are on my mind this week. First, Beijing’s real-estate prices have been dropping steadily in recent months. This week many papers are carrying stories about bored and out of work real-estate agents as well as sob … Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Government, Law, Etc., Urbanization | Leave a comment