The fate of Chinese urban villages (chengzhongcun) has recently attracted both research and policy attention. Two important unaddressed questions are: what are the source of informality in otherwise orderly Chinese cities; and, will village redevelopment policy eliminate informality in the Chinese city? Reflecting on the long established study of informal settlements and recent research on informality, it is argued that the informality in China has been created by the dual urban-rural land market and land management system and by an underprovision of migrant housing. The redevelopment of chengzhongcun is an attempt to eliminate this informality and to create more governable spaces through formal land development; but since it fails to tackle the root demand for unregulated living and working space, village redevelopment only leads to the replication of informality in more remote rural villages, in other urban neighbourhoods and, to some extent, in the redeveloped neighbourhoods.
Wu, FuLong; Webster, C.; Zhang, FangZhu. Informality and the development and demolition of urban villages in the Chinese peri-urban area. Urban Studies (2013) 50 (10) 1919-1934. [DOI: 10.1177/0042098012466600]