Real Estate Developers and the Urban Renewal of Shenzhen’s Urban Village

  • Da Wei David Wang Shenzhen University
Keywords: Urban Renewal, Chaiqian, Real Estate Developer, Urban Village


Over the past two decades, the ultimate social buzzword of urban China is chaiqian, the physical representation of urban renewal in China, often known for its forceful actions and social grievances. Chai means to demolish, and qian means to move or relocate something. Together, chaiqian is used both as a noun and sometimes a verb in Chinese. Across China, great stadiums, “new towns” and new CBDs were mostly built on chaiqian land under various slogans of urban renewal. Shenzhen’s urban renewal placed particular emphasis on the urban villages. This paper provides an overview of the urban renewal processes in Shenzhen’s urban villages. It will analyze the strategies and perspectives of the urban villagers and the real-estate developers during the urban renewal process and its chaiqian phases. In Shenzhen, the real estate developers have essentially become the vanguards of the urban renewal process with local government backing. On the chaiqian ground of the urban villages, fierce struggles are being waged between urban villagers and the real estate developers both as partners and as competitors.


Charles Booth Online Archive. LSE library. Retrieved from:

Duan, J. (ed.) (2009) Space, Power, and Resistance: The Spatial Politics of Illegal Construction in Urban Villages. Nanjing: DongnanDaxueChubanshe. (In Chinese)

Engels, F. (1971) The Condition of the Working Class in England. Oxford: Blackwell.

Gemdale Group (2013) Group Introduction, Retrieved from:

Harvey, D. (1985) The Urbanization of Capital. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Harvey, D. (2009) Social Justice and the City. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

Harvey, D. (2008) The Right to the City. New Left Review, 53: 23–40.

Howard, E. (1898/2007) Garden Cities of To-morrow. Retrieved from:

Hsing, Y. (2010) The Great Urban Transformation: Politics of Land and Property in China. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hu, T. (2012) Crisis of Lack of Usable Land: Shenzhen Planning to form a Land Management Bureau) Retrieved from: (In Chinese).

Le Corbusier (1964) The Radiant City: Elements of a Doctrine of Urbanism to Be Used as the Basis of Our Machine-age Civilization. trans. P. Knight, New York: Orion Press.

Liu, J. and Liu, Z. (eds) (2013) Researches on Real Estate Topics. Beijing: FazhiChubanshe. (In Chinese)

Jacobs, J. (2011) The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Modern

Scott, J. C. (1998) Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Shenzhen Municipal Government (2009) Methods on Urban Renewal. Shenzhen Municipal Government Document, no. 211, Shenzhen. (In Chinese)

Shu, Y. (2010, February 1) Shenzhen Urban Villages Creating Rich Barons. Tsingdao Daily. (In Chinese)

Vanke Group (2013) 2012 Annual Report: the First Step toward ROE Internationalization. Retrieved from: (in Chinese)

Wang, X. (ed.) (2013) Disputes over Demolition and Relocation: Confirming Rules and Using Power. Beijing: FazhiChubanshe. (In Chinese)

Weber, M. (1986) The City. New York: Free Press.

Ye, F. (2010) Gangxia Super Nail. Southern Metropolis Daily.24 November, p. AII 07. (In Chinese).

Zhang, G. (2009) Building War. Southern Metropolis Daily, December 16th, p.A 05, Shenzhen. (In Chinese)

Zhao, T. (2010) Chenhua: Creating the Tallest Building in Shenzhen with 5 Billion Yuan) Times Entrepreneur, 41: 34–37. (In Chinese)