Journal article (2014): Urban spatial restructuring, event-led development and scalar politics

14.coverA recent paper of mine on examining Guangzhou’s use of the Asian Games has just been published by the journal Urban Studies. Entitled “Urban Spatial Restructuring, Event-led Development and Scalar Politics”, it examines the use of the 2010 Summer Asian Games by Guangzhou in China as a means to justify its developmental vision that aimed at raising the city’s global profile and urban accumulation. Please click here to go directly to the journal page to download the paper.

Below is an abstract. Please e-mail me if you do not have access to the journal and I’ll be happy to share the paper. Other papers that have resulted from my project on Guangzhou can be found on this link (e.g. journal papers from Antipode and City).

Abstract of “Urban Spatial Restructuring, Event-led Development and Scalar Politics”

This paper uses Guangzhou’s experience of hosting the 2010 Asian Games to illustrate Guangzhou’s engagement with scalar politics. This includes concurrent processes of intra-regional restructuring to position Guangzhou as a central city in south China and a ‘negotiated scale-jump’ to connect with the world under conditions negotiated in part with the overarching strong central state, testing the limit of Guangzhou’s geopolitical expansion. Guangzhou’s attempts were aided further by using the Asian Games as a vehicle for addressing condensed urban spatial restructuring to enhance its own production/accumulation capacities, and for facilitating urban redevelopment projects to achieve a ‘global’ appearance and exploit the city’s real estate development potential. Guangzhou’s experience of hosting the Games provides important lessons for expanding our understanding of how regional cities may pursue their development goals under the strong central state and how event-led development contributes to this.

[In Chinese; thanks to Yimin Zhao for translation]

In Chinese; thanks to Yimin Zhao for translation]

中文标题:“城市空间重构、赛会引领型发展和尺度政治”

本文借助广州举办 2010 年亚运会的经历分析了这座城市的尺度政治问题。文章
首先分析了区域内部同时发生的多重空间重构过程,这些过程的共同目的是要
将广州打造成为华南地区的中心城市。随后本文进一步探讨了广州为与世界关
联而进行的”协商性尺度跳跃”,并借助这一跳跃分析了广州进行地缘政治扩张
的限度,因为该行为至少在部分程度上可视为与全能型强中央政权妥协的产物。
广州的上述尝试得到了亚运会的进一步推进:一方面,亚运会使得广州有机会
进一步强调通过城市空间重构增进其自身的生产/积累能力;另一方面,亚运
会帮助广州更便捷地通过城市再开发工程构建所谓”全球形象”,并进而充分发
掘城市房地产业发展的潜力。研究广州举办亚运会的经历能深化我们对以下两个问题的理解:一是在强中央政权的管辖下,区域性城市如何追寻自身的发展
目标;二是大型赛会引领型的发展策略对于区域性城市的这一抱负是否以及如
何发挥作用。

Below is one of the images used in the paper, which shows how the new central business district (Pearl River New Town or zhujiang xincheng 珠江新城) has changed substantially during the ten years prior to the Games opening.

Transformation of the Pearl River New Town, 2000 - 2010

Transformation of the Pearl River New Town, 2000 – 2010

51 days before the Guangzhou Asian Games

 

2010-09-23

Guangzhou is busy with the preparation for the Guangzhou Asian Games that will take place in November. Some people in Guangzhou say the timing is not good, as the opening of the Games is only a few days after the completion of the Shanghai Expo. In any case, lots of construction works and beautification projects are taking place all over Guangzhou, and the government of Guangzhou wants to finish the originally planned refurbishment and beautification projects in time for the opening of the Games.

The photos above show some of the scenes around the Guangzhou East Station where fast trains to Hong Kong depart from. Everywhere you go in Guangzhou nowadays, it is fairly easy to find these Games-related slogans and electronic count-down billboards.  The whole station area was in a mess yesterday when I went there to take my train to Hong Kong. Three weeks earlier when I first arrived in Guangzhou, it was even messier. I suppose the remaining 51 days would see more intense mobilisation of resources by the government to complete the beautification and major construction projects considered crucial for the city to make it presentable to Games visitors.

When a guest visits one’s house, everyone would usually try to clean his/her house to make it presentable and comfortable for the guest. When a city engages with beautification and refurbishment, it becomes a whole different story, affecting far too many residents who may find quite a few projects absolutely unnecessary. The decision to decide the extent of the clean-up, beautification and refurbishment often rests with high-ranking officials, reflecting their own notion of what a city should look like.

From Guangzhou to Hong Kong: Guangzhou students’ views on the Asian Games

My official schedule in Guangzhou is over as of tonight. Just came back from giving a guest lecture on Olympic Games and Mega-event Politics to the students at the School of Urban Planning and Geography.

When I gave talk on the same topic to some students at the School of Government a few days ago, I did an impromptu survey on how many of the people in the lecture room were in favour and against having the Asian Games in Guangzhou. About 30% of the attendants said they were against it, and 15% in favour. Tonight, I did a similar survey, and about 15% said they were in favour of it, while 5% said they were against it. Well, it’s difficult to know the full picture until one finds out what the silent mass really thought about the issue, but it was an interesting exercise. I wonder if there was any difference in the disciplinary approach that produced contrasting results…

I will be off to Hong Kong on Wednesday, the mid-autumn festival day when families get together in South Korea, and lantern festival takes place in Hong Kong. As was the case last year, again mid-autumn festival while being on the road…