The Right to the City and Critical Reflections on China's Property Rights Activism



Wholesale clearance and eviction that typify China's urban development have often resulted in discontents among urban residents, giving rise to what critics refer to as property rights activism. This paper is an attempt to critically revisit the existing debates on the property rights activism in China. The paper refers to the perspective of the “right to the city” to examine whose rights count in China's urban development contexts and proposes a cross-class alliance that engages both migrants and local citizens. The alliance itself will have substantial political implications, overcoming the limited level of rights awareness that mainly rests on distributional justice in China. The discussions are supported by an analysis of empirical data from the author's field research in Guangzhou, which examines how local and non-local (migrant) residents view nail-households resisting demolition and forced eviction.