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China: Neighbors talking on the Net

Things are looking slightly better for China's property owners, but the right to vote has yet to reach the cities. Over the past few years property owners have done their best to pick up the slack, but sometimes have to resort to violence to get their needs met.

Do Chinese cities have residential tenancy acts? If property owner rights are so shaky, who's looking out for those who rent the apartments out? Home owners have begun organizing themselves and, according to a post from indy blogger 50mm, so increasingly are residents in a few communities in southern China's Shenzhen, just across the border with Hong Kong:

深圳房地产信息网为在深圳的每个小区都建立了业主论坛,业主们在自家楼盘的网络空间里交流,增进情感。网络论坛,在一定程度上成为购买商品房的市民们的网络福利。那些住在城中村的人们呢?住城中村的有不少是刚进入深圳的年轻人,收入相对比较低,他们有强烈的网络交流的需求,但深圳却没有相应的城中村论坛,因为城中村的住户们,对自己住的社区缺乏认同感,就像是风吹的沙子,到处流动,四处搬家。所以也没有人来为城中村的住户建立网络论坛。

The Shenzhen Real Estate InfoNet has set up internet forums for homeowners in every community. Homeowners, in their own building's internet space, talk with each other and develop camraderie. Internet forums, to a certain extent, have become a web-based welfare for citizens who purchase commercial properties. But what about those who rent in urban residential communities? More than a few of the people who live in these communities are young and new to Shenzhen, people whose wages are relatively low. They have intense needs to talk with others online, but Shenzhen has yet to see the corresponding internet forums for urban communities because these residents lack a sense of belonging to their own communities. Just like the wind blows the sand, they tend to flow in different directions, moving often. This is why someone has yet set up a bbs for residents in urban residential communities.

真的是这样吗?我认识一个叫阿蓉的朋友,她在下沙住了12年了,和房东成了很好的朋友,她走在村子里,大部分的人都认识,她是看着下沙村慢慢地从一个城市边缘的村落慢慢变成了喧嚣的人口堡垒。像阿蓉这样的人,对下沙产生了强烈的依赖,她说,如果搬家到别处的话,会感到非常不方便。

Is it really so? I have one friend called Ah Rong, she's lived in Xiasha for twelve years and has become very good friends with the landlord. When she goes into the neighborhood, most people know her. She has watched the area slowly go from being a small hamlet on the city outskirts to becoming a noisy, populated fortress. For people like Ah Rong who have developed a strong dependency on Xiasha, she says that continuously moving from place to place would be very inconvenient for her.

3sha.jpg
“Satellite photo of the Tri-Sha Area”

下沙村在福田区滨海大道以南,新洲路以西的片区,这附近聚集着好几个城中村,而且都冠以沙字头,沙头,沙尾,沙嘴,沙头又分上沙和下沙,这几个村紧靠在一起,住在里面的有几十万人,里面有很多像阿蓉这样的人,他们是外来户,但在这里住的年头不短。

Xiasha lies South of Binhai Avenue in Futian district, the area west of Xinzhou road. Several neighborhoods are gathered nearby: Shatou, Shawei, Shazui and Shatou, all divided between Shangsha (upper) and Xiasha (lower). These neighborhoods are all pressed together. With several hundred thousand residents between them, there are many people like Ah Rong, non-locals, but with the time spent living here not long.

其实对于刚搬进城中村的人,他们也需要有一个资讯平台,村里哪家米粉店好吃,哪家休闲中心的足浴服务好,租房的人要找租赁信息,最近我看到有个 三沙社区的一个网站,他们就提供了这么一个网络服务,一个叫Benny的年轻人架设了一个BBS论坛,给以沙头地区为中心的城中村住户提供网络交流平台。论坛分本地信息和娱乐休闲信息两大板块,十几个小板块,最近的几个帖子是,一个网名叫”虎落平阳”的网友发贴,名为”今天路过下沙武装部的时候差点被狼狗咬!”,还有一个叫”三杀一水”的网友控诉:”今天在下沙公园散步被偷了手机”。目前来看,来这个论坛的人数还不是很多,同时在线人数为数十人。

Actually, for people having just moved into an urban residential community, they too need an information base, telling them which shops’ noodles taste the best, which footbath recreation centers have the best service, where renters can find information on leases. I recently saw that there is such a Tri-Sha Community website [zh], and they provide just this kind of service. One young user named Benny has set up a BBS forum for renters in the urban residential communities centered around Shatou area which provides an internet exchange platform. The forum is divided into two main sections, local information and entertainment/recreational information and over a dozen smaller sections. A number of recent posts have been written by one user named “Hu Luo Ping An”, with names like ‘Today I went past the Xiasha army base and almost got bit by a wild dog!’ and another where user ‘San Sha Yi Shui’ complains, ‘Today I was walking in Xiasha Park and got my cellphone stolen.’ For now it seems there aren't a whole lot of people active in this forum, and just a couple dozen online.

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