#4 - June 2017
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Sun Yat-sen University main campus in Guangzhou South Campus

MEDIUM's Events
16-18 June 2017

MEDIUM 2nd International Conference


The second international event organised in the context of the MEDIUM project will address the issue of sustainability from a broad perspective, tackling ageing housing, social inclusion, urban governance, environmental sustainability, participatory processes in urban planning, with a multi-disciplinary approach ranging from geography, political science, economy, sociology, computer science, to environmental science etc.

Opening remarks:
Natacha Aveline, Géographie-cités, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) – Scientific coordinator of MEDIUM
Desheng Xue, Dean of the School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University
Bertrand Furno, Consul General of France in Guangzhou
Laurent Bochereau, Minister Counsellor, Head of Science, Technology and Environment at the Delegation of the European Union to China
Antoine Mynard, Director for the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in China

Conference Flyer
Sessions' Abstracts

Presentations' Abstracts

Info and registration:

Upcoming Conferences


MEDIUM team members will participate to the following events:

- Workshop  Faire des sciences sociales en Chine: expériences et pratiques de terrain organized by The Sino-French Center (Centre Franco-chinois, CFC) and hosted by the Social Sciences Faculty of Tsinghua University, 3 June 2017, Beijin.
Cinzia Losavio will attend the workshop with a presentation on Investigating in China in the frame of a bilateral project: Ethnographic approach and new tools

- MEDIUM Stakeholder Workshop 12-14 June, Datong.
Hosted by the Datong Shanxi University and organised by MEDIUM consortium under the coordination of partner S4S, the 4th stakeholder workshop will train professors in Datong to the methodology of participative workshops.

- 6th French Network for Asian Studies International Conference (FNASIC) 26-28 June 2017, Science Po Paris.
MEDIUM Team members will attend the conference with the following papers:
Judith Audin – Confronting to a double public: the residents’ committee, a front-line organization in 21st century urban China;
Natacha Aveline-Dubach - Understanding inflating property values in China through the ‘Developmental State’ concept;
Cinzia Losavio - China’s new urbanization strategy: Chinese migrant-workers and medium-sized cities

- Conference French Association of Sociology session of the RT9 on the Sociology of the urban space and territories 3-6 July 2017, Amiens, France.
Judith Audin will present her work in Session 6 (Mobility and effects of mobility) La rénovation urbaine, angle d’étude des processus de reconfiguration des relations entre une entreprise d’Etat chinoise et ses ouvriers. Le cas des mineurs de charbon relogés à « Penghuqu » (Datong, Shanxi)

- 1st RC33 Regional Conference on Social Science Methodology: Asia 11-14 September 2017, Taipei, Taiwan. Hosted by the Center for Survey Research (RCHSS), Academia Sinica.
Judith Audin and Valentina Anzoise will attend the conference presenting the results of their field work in Session 19: Toward more visual research methodologies?
Valentina Anzoise will aso present a paper in Session 20 (Prospects and Limitations ofd Mixed Method research) by the title, Shaping China urban future: mixed method approach on high-tech zones in Hangzhou and Zhuhai (co-authors Debora Slanzi and Irene Poli).


MEDIUM's Actions

Ecological Civilization: What’s in It for Urban Sustainability?


Costanza Termine1, Davide Buono1, Andrea Critto2, Angela Moriggi1,3, and Daniele Brombal1

1 Department of Asian and North African Studies, Ca’ Foscari University Venice
2 Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics, and Statistics, Ca’ Foscari University Venice
3 Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

Reviewed indicators characterized by dimension (n.) and selected criteria (%)

The concept of ecological civilization (shengtai wenming 生态文明) has been gaining increasing importance in China’s official discourse on sustainability. It calls for a readjustment of the relationship between humans and the natural environment they inhabit, based on a systemic approach to development. Domestic and international observers are still divided over its concrete implications for urban sustainability: does it have a potential to trigger positive change? Or is it rather a rhetorical tool, a buzzword void of any substance?

To find an answer to these questions, a team of MA students of the Department of Asian and North African Studies and MEDIUM researchers at Ca’ Foscari University Venice are conducting a systematic review of assessment systems devised to measure progress towards urban ecological civilization. The work is based on the assumption that such systems act as normalizing tools, favoring the adoption of practices consistent with the evaluation criteria they employ. By looking into assessment systems, we can therefore gain valuable insights on the potential of ecological civilization for urban sustainability.

So far, the team has screened 25 assessment systems, published on Chinese scientific journals between 2008 and 2015. A total of 758 indicators have been extracted and characterized based on different dimensions of sustainability and relevant assessment criteria. The definition of dimensions and criteria has been conducted by triangulating scientific literature and Chinese policy documents, in order to allow for comparison with previous studies and to reflect recent policy developments.

Preliminary results show that systems have a large predominance of environmental and social indicators, respectively 49% and 25% of the total. If we cluster together social, cultural, and policy indicators (which often go indistinctly under the dimension ‘society’), they would account for 37% of the total. The potential for ecological civilization driven innovation is evident in the cultural and policy dimensions. Indeed, they appear to attach particular relevance to aspects such as ecological and environmental awareness, education and research related to ecological issues, and−albeit to a lesser extent−to the embracement of ecological lifestyles.

As to what extent ecological civilization is bound to influence urban governance still remains to be ascertained further. Two aspects are key in this respect: (a) the degree and extent of participation of stakeholders in the process of development of indicators systems; and (b) their concrete application in real-life scenarios, to inform urban policy evaluation and formulation. This will be the next task for our team.

If you want to know more on our ongoing work on ecological civilization and urban sustainability, please send your inquiries to

MEDIUM's Actions

MEDIUM researchers at the international conference on China Urban Development

Picture:  Natacha Aveline, 2017

On 5th and 6th May 2017, the Bartlett School of Planning’s (BSP) - China Planning Research Group (CPRG) hosted the 2017 International Conference on China Urban Development in London. One of the largest of its kind outside China, the conference attracted over 230 participants from 17 countries and regions. The conference was supported by BSP, UCL Strategic Partner Funds, Peking University, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (IJURR) and Urban Studies. Over 170 papers were presented over two days in 39 parallel sessions, spanning across domains such as economic geography, culture-led urban development, green urbanism, transport planning, socio-environmental justice, livelihood and wellbeing of migrants, housing market, and urban shrinkage (Source:

4 MEDIUM researchers – Natacha Aveline, CNRS and scientific coordinator of the project, Valentina Anzoise (UNIVE), Cinzia Losavio and Juste Raimbault (CNRS) participated. Download their presentations' abstracts:

Upcoming Publications

Centrality of Land and residential investment in China, an approach from the Development State


Natacha Aveline-Dubach

CNRS UMR Géographie-Cités


Destruction of Japanese colonial houses for a real-estate project in Dalian. Picture: Natacha Aveline

Natacha Aveline-Dubach, CNRS UMR Géographie-Cités and MEDIUM Scientific Coordinator, authored the article Centrality of Land and residential investment in China, an approach from the Development State forthcoming in Revue de la Régulation, special issue on The transformation of China, a challenge for the political economy.

Abstract: This paper engages in a discussion between regulationists and urban scientists with the aim of bringing awareness of the growing role of property markets as drivers of contemporaneous capitalist regimes — a dimension that has not been given sufficient consideration by the French Regulation School. The case of China exemplifies the centrality of land in macroeconomic dynamics. This paper explores this centrality trough the prism of the Development State (DS), a framework that sets China's experience in the broader context of Northeast Asia. Three main characteristics of Johnson’s seminal DS framework (1982) are mobilized to highlight the role of property value enhancement in China's regime of capital accumulation, i.e. an utmost emphasis on GDP growth, a strong state control over capital allocation to the economy,  and manifestations of economic nationalism. It is argued that the Chinese state — at both central and local level— has used the mechanism of property value enhancement as a major tool to ensure a smoother economic transition, by encouraging residential investment as a quasi exclusive saving vehicle. Selective strategies in banking credit allocation and restrictions to the development of financial markets, both aiming to maintain state's stranglehold over financial supply to the productive base, have generated the proliferation of a poorly monitored "grey finance" party collateralized by land. To keep control over the  "land rent" and ensure its adequate appropriation by domestic players, the state has dramatically restricted foreign inflows of capital in China's property markets, and at the same time,  has encouraged outbond investment in real estate to alleviate pressure on saving demand by domestic players. These findings highlight the pivotal role of land/ property markets in the construction of fondamental institutional forms defined by the Regulation framework.




Liao Liao and Jean Pierre Gaudin, SciencePo AIX, MEDIUM team members, will soon publish the article L'ouverture au marché en Chine (années 1980-2000) et le développement économique local: une forme de gouvernance multi-niveaux?. The article, in French language, will be available in the forthcoming online issue of Cybergeo: European Journal of Geography.

Abstract: La Chine est considérée depuis longtemps comme un pays centralisé. Avec plusieurs réformes depuis ces dernières trente années, des compétences importantes relatives au développement économique ont cependant été progressivement transférées à des échelons locaux. L’article analyse cette évolution à partir d’une étude de terrain dans deux Provinces, celle du Zhejiang et celle du Sichuan. L’hypothèse développée est que le mouvement de transfert des initiatives constitue un nouveau mode de « pilotage » du développement local en Chine. Cet article repose sur la combinaison de plusieurs perspectives d’analyse : une perspective centrée sur les réformes du système territorial et financier ; une autre perspective visant à rendre compte du changement dans le rôle des acteurs locaux sur le développement local et celui des relations intergouvernementales au sein des Provinces.

Thierry Theurillat, Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, MEDIUM team member, has recently authored the article: Financing Urban Growth in China: A Case Study of Qujing, a Medium-Sized City in Yunnan Province, China Perspectives 2017/1

Abstract: Illustrated by a case study on the urban development of a medium-sized city in China, this article develops a theoretical framework to help understand the role the financial system plays in the urban development model based on land in China. Three fields of literature have been used in order to link the various mechanisms between land, urban infrastructure, property development, and financing channels in urban production. The case study illustrates the many interactions between local government and real estate businesses, both state and private, as well as local banks, in order to create urban infrastructure that responds to “communal and public” needs and real estate objectives of a “private and individual” nature. In doing so, it highlights the fundamental role of capital in urban production in China.

MEDIUM's Community


Leesu (Water, Environment and Urban Systems Lab) is a joint research unit (JRU), under the supervision of École des Ponts ParisTech, l’Université Paris-Est Créteil et AgroParisTech. Leesu participates in the MEDIUM project as hosting istitution of our fellow Researcher Yinghao Li.

The topic of Leesu’s researches is mainly urban water, with different approaches:
  • - physical and hydrological studies of stormwater (rainfalls, runoff events, flows)
  • - biogeochemical studies of sources, fate and effects of chemical and microbiological contaminants
  • - socio-technical studies of water policies and uses
Leesu develops a not only multi- but inter-disciplinary finalized and involved research, what is major to lead a relevant search in environment. Its researches are directly confronted to societal stakes such as sustainable development and adaptation to climate change. In this purpose, Leesu anchors its activities within close and long-term operational partnerships with local authorities in the Paris region and with water operators.
Leesu is a member LABEX Futurs urbains. Major actor to promote French urban search results at an international level, Futurs urbains tend to enforce a site policy in order to mobilize task force researches about cities and urban environment.  

MEDIUM's Community

Prof. Zhang visits Ca' Foscari University of Venice

Picture: Irene Poli, 2017

On Friday 26th May, professor Weiliang Zhang, Director of the Institute of Urban Studies at the Hangzhou Normal University, MEDIUM partner, has visited Ca' Foscari University of Venice and the European Centre for Living Technology. He met with Vice-Rector professor Tiziana Lippiello and professor Irene Poli, MEDIUM scientific referent at Ca' Foscari.
On the occasion they discussed possible collaborations with Chinese institutions and the implementation of the bilateral agreement they recently signed.

Caption: professor Weiliang Zhang and Vice-Rector professor Tiziana Lippiello

MEDIUM's Events

17 March 2017

3rd Stakeholder workshop

Picture: Erik Gløersen, 2017

The MEDIUM project organised its third stakeholder workshop on March 17th in Zhuhai. While the two previous workshops that focused on the Sci Tech City of Hangzhou, the topic of this one was the Zhuhai High Tech Zone. All workshops have been organised by students, respectively coming from Sun Yat-Sen University and Hanzghou Normal University, with support by members of the MEDIUM team. They were prepared through training sessions designed and led by Spatial Foresight.
This newsletter has been produced with the assistance of the European Union under the project EuropeAid MEDIUM GA ICI+/2014/348-005.
Contents are the sole responsibility of MEDIUM partners and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
Copyright © 2017 MEDIUM Cities-China, All rights reserved.

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