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Zhongtan village: an urban and rural contradiction

June 29, 2012

konjaku: In discussing urban villages, commentators often say these contain within them the “contradiction” between rural life and urban life, as two separate worlds. These two “dimensions”  have been forced together, in part by the outward expansion of the city, but also by the value placed on urbanizing China as a whole, and the policies that have ensued from that determination. Here is a small example of the contradiction.

In many photos of Zhongtan village (before it ceased to exist in 2011-12), one sees in the immediate background, the new residential complexes of high rises, the future in contrast to which Zhongtan village, in its “messy” form, is an impediment. (Click on photos for larger size).

photo Gregory Bugel, 2009

photo Gregory Bugel, 2009

In the future, Zhongtan residents will move into residential complexes similar to these. But what do they, former “peasants,”  do in the meantime?

Here is a notice posted outside a Tiantongyuan residential complex, adjacent to Zhongtan village.

photo Gregory Bugel, 2009


For a long time now, in the empty land in front of the Tiantongyuan Xiyi district number 46 building, some loiterers have cultivated the vacant lots, stealing for their own use water which is for irrigating the green zone. 1, This has a severe impact on maintaining a good district environment 2, the water belongs to the project developers, stealing the irrigation water violates their rights. The effect on the business owners is severe, and it further causes a certain amount of distress to the building management company. The project developers have requested that we, the building management company, increase our efforts to manage this area, and to extract compensation for damages from the thieves based on the amount of water they have stolen.

Shuntiantong Building Management Company 2009-06-29

konjaku: The urban and rural unification plan states that the area between residential and commercial developments will be a green zone, or a greenbelt. The Zhongtan village site will in future become a greenbelt. In the implementation of this plan, the villagers have become “loiterers” 闲杂人员 with nothing to do.

“Urban farm.” Gregory Bugel, 2009

An approved use of water at Tiangtongyuan Xiyi district number 46 Building (a fountain):

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