Grassroots organizations and urban regeneration in Qingdao
The commencement of China’s market reform, and the emergence of property-led urban development in Chinese cities, has given rise to residents’ resistance against displacement, and the emergence of grassroots protests campaigning for higher compensation. Consequentially, questions of how to mediate contestations and social conflicts in the urbanization process has become a focus of policy reforms in China at both the central and the local levels. This research focuses on urban development in Qingdao, a coastal city in China, and seeks to explore, and understand, local reform initiatives relating to displacement. The focus is the emergence of new forms of governance through the context of local Residents’ Committees (RCs), or community based, non-government organizations, increasingly responsible for policing social conflicts and resistant activities related to urban renewal and regeneration projects. In the current literature, residents’ involvement in, and protests against, China’s urban renewal and regeneration programmes have been given scant attention. Likewise, while there is an emerging literature about the role of RCs, and their governance roles in the vacuums left by a shrinking socialist welfare state, knowledge on how they are shaping urban governance, and urban renewal and regeneration, is under-developed. This thesis addresses these knowledge gaps, by focusing on one grassroots organization in the city of Qingdao, Nan Shan Residents’ Committee’s (NSRC), and its involvement in No.19 Fushun Road’s regeneration in 2012. Drawing on in-depth interviews with Qingdao’s officials, NSRC’s staff and Fushun community’s residents, this research shows how the NSRC operates to manage and marginalise residents’ opposition and resistant to regeneration. In doing so, the research contributes to the understanding of Chinese governmentality in the reform and transition period, and explores how far ideas, based on Western (liberal) societies, including arguments about governing at a distance and through freedom, can be used to understand urban change and transition in contemporary China.