Wangjing is a large residential cluster located at the intersection of the Fourth Ring Road and the airport expressway in the northeast part of Beijing. The area is a “suburb” according to official statistics and academic accounts, which often classify urban areas beyond the historical old city as suburbs. Due to its proximity to the airport and major expressways, Wangjing has developed quickly since the late 1990s. As more high-rise luxury apartment buildings get built, the area's population has reached 150,000 as of 2010, including more than 30,000 foreign expatriates living here amid Chinese urban professionals. Across the airport expressway from Wangjing is the 798 Factory, a hip arts quarter developed within a former electronics factory built in the 1950s. Looking for large studio space, a few artists moved into the Bauhaus-style workshops here in the late 1990s, and quickly bookstores, coffee shops, and galleries followed suit. By 2005, the 798 Factory had become the center of the contemporary Chinese art scene and home to many prestigious international galleries. Outside the factory compound is a working-class neighborhood developed in the 1950s to house workers at the nearby factories and their families. The living conditions here have not changed much for decades, with some families still sharing common kitchens and bathrooms with their neighbors in dilapidated apartment buildings. To the west side of Wangjing, after about a 15-minute drive along the Fourth Ring Road, one reaches the Olympic Park, a brand-new area of parks, stadiums, five-star hotels, golf courses, and exclusive gated communities of villas – all developed in the short period before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Beyond the Fifth Ring Road, one can see many “urban villages,” former agricultural villages that have become populated by migrant workers with low-paid jobs – taxi drivers, construction workers, waiters, nannies, security guards, and street vendors. Unable to afford to live in the central city, migrant workers rent rooms from local peasants at the city's edge. Many of these villages are to be demolished soon to make space for commercial property development, and the migrant worker tenants will have to move to another village farther away from the city.
Ren, X. (2010), "Territorial expansion and state rescaling: A critique of suburbanization studies in China", Clapson, M. and Hutchison, R. (Ed.) Suburbanization in Global Society (Research in Urban Sociology, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 347-366. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1047-0042(2010)0000010017Download as .RIS
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