foreign enclaves (urban)

foreign enclaves (urban)
One effect of economic reforms since the late 1970s has been the re-emergence in many Chinese cities of areas that cater to the needs and desires of foreigners (waiguoren). Ranging in size from individual high-rises (e.g. near Jianguomenwai in Beijing) to clusters of gated communities (e.g. in Shanghai’s Pudong district), these enclaves reinforce cultural segregation, reflect economic disparities and resurrect spatial, legal and ethnic distinctions that characterized many Chinese cities before 1949. As early as the eighteenth century, foreigners trading with China lived and worked in discrete ‘factory’ areas assigned to them by imperial authorities. Guangzhou, most notably, set a precedent that continued after 1842 when the Treaty of Nanjing that ended the first Opium War created six treaty ports along the coast between Shanghai and Hong Kong. In the late Qing, as economic activities by foreigners intensified and as a wider constellation of Chinese cities became treaty ports, the number of foreign enclaves, or concession areas (zujie), increased.
In contemporary Chinese cities smaller versions of these enclaves resurfaced in the late 1970s in two different guises: either as hotels, where foreigners lived and conducted business with Chinese clients (e.g. Jianguo in Beijing, or White Swan in Guangzhou), or as compounds for ‘foreign experts’ (zhuanjialou) within universities. In the mid 1980s the government permitted more diversified business centres to be erected (e.g.
Nanjing’s Jinling fandian and Shanghai’s Portman Centre), as well as low-rise ‘villas’, often on the outskirts of cities. These residences appealed not only to foreigners but also to Chinese investors abroad and upwardly mobile Chinese entrepreneurs. In the mid 1990s the central government briefly halted these projects because they had proliferated too rapidly and were thought to run counter to other avowed priorities to provide housing for the masses. However, in the late 1990s, both business centres and gated communities again attracted substantial investment, and they have again appealed to richer, domestic Chinese residents. Foreign enclaves, then, have become one of the measures of China’s recent economic liberalization and globalization.
See also: housing; residential districts (urban); salon culture
Davis, Deborah S. (ed.) (2000). The Consumer Revolution in Urban China. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Logan, John R. (ed.) (2002). The New Chinese City: Globalization and Market Reform. London: Blackwell.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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