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Marketing, Social, Tech

Accommodation in China

Hello again from Aim2D real time, 24/7 #ChinaBusinessMarketing, Tech and Social Media News Portal of Bic Brands based in sunny Shunyi. Tuesdays we look at business, marketing, tech or social news in and around China. Friday is image gallery where we examine a place, topic or subject giving you greater insight, background to life in China, and of course, your Chinese consumer.

Today we are taking a quick look at accommodation in China.

Before we get “into it” let’s clarify; Aim2D hasn’t branched out into real estate or the rental accommodation business.

The thing is, shortly after we released our post “remembering Shanghai” (below) we fielded a few enquires about our comments of: “front doors being closed, but not locked in.” Unfortunately, that seems to have caused some ambiguity or confusion for a few.

We were actually guilty of assuming everyone would understand, forgetting that for a large number of people, their “home” is a box on an area of fenced off land.

Or, as in the case in some bigger western cites, (New York springs to mind) “home” is one of a series of boxes stacked on top of each other. So, this post aims to explain the Chinese concept of “apartment” living. If this is old hat to you, bye bye, see you Friday.

We also need to point out, here we are talking about “apartment dwelling” or residential compounds, which is only one of the housing options available in China. OK, let’s move on.

China’s Residential Compounds

One example might be the traditional Chinese walled enclave, as in The Forbidden City. In short, a large expanse of land fenced, walled or otherwise contained from the surrounding area in which the inhabitants are secured from those on the outside. In some countries these are known as Gated Apartments. However, in those cases, they tend to be more high end, luxury real estate. Domain of the Rich and Famous.

It may help to think of it as a maybe a castle. Walls surrounding and protecting the perimeter with dwellings and commercial establishments safely enclosed. As in the image of Fly Town – opposite

Now, our head image, with its neatly clipped hedgerows and cobbled paving stones might look strikingly similar to a peaceful, quite suburban street in Europe or UK. But is in fact just another China residential compound.

As one might expect from the image, this is an example of a rather larger, more expensive residential complex. However, you not only have your own little piece of suburban lifestyle, you also gain seclusion as well as the added security of living in a guarded, gated space. A private, enclosed suburb within a suburb if you will.

However, unlike the US version we are familiar with, one need not be Rich and Famous to live here- although being rich doesn’t hurt~ Many international companies or schools house their expat staff here. The downside for some places with a high expat residency is that it can be very much like living in a fish bowl.

Sizes vary ranging for a total area from 1 to 15 plus hectares and also provide a range of facilities such as landscaped gardens, trees, park benches, fountains, streams, out door exercise / BBQ equipment or facilities, children’s playgrounds, cafes, mini markets hairdressers, pet shops, vets, restaurants, bars, tennis and squash courts, salons, a pool, or fitness centres.

The bigger ( and more expensive) compounds provide more facilities than the smaller ones, but all usually have some form of landscaped relaxation area plus small shops.

Others, such as FLY TOWN where Aim2D is based, are mixed mode. Meaning a combination of residential and commercial office space. As expected, the faculties or services offered in such places lean toward supporting the business community, such as print shops, accountancy and office supplies.

So, generally speaking, a lockdown here, whilst inconvenient in that education and work moves to on line mode, means that people can not leave the enclosure. However, they are free to leave their homes and wander around inside the compound walls.

Very quickly looking at those who do not live in an apartment complex, but rather something similar to the mostly north China Hutong style. You can learn more about Hutongs, with pictures here: Beijing Hutong and Beijing Hutongs.

In this situation were residents are more conventional, non enclosed, street dwellers, local authorities will, depending on results of testing, erect (usually) blue corrugated iron barriers to create a temporary “walled off” enclose in an attempt to limit the spread.

Most readers will be familiar with this as it is always the image of choice of mainstream media when reporting on Covid in China. After all, rows of dull blue, metal barriers presents a very depressing, Orwellian atmosphere which plays well with usual mainstream and western propaganda.

Stay at Home Confinement

In the unfortunate case where one of your friends tests positive, or you are linked as a close contact, for example, a plane or entertainment venue, then you are required to stay inside your 4 walls for at least 3 days or until you test negative.

Health staff, suitably dressed in Hazmat suits, AKA ( Big Whites) will collect your garbage daily as well as deliver on line shopping packages or delivery food.

So in reality, a lock down here, whilst irritating, annoying and down right inconvenient, is not as dramatic or frightening as it seems. Or usually reported. However as someone in Shanghai quipped during their prolonged lockdown:

“Turns out there is a big difference between not wanting to go out, and not being allowed out.”

We hope this clarifies lockdowns in China.

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