Immigrant and Urban China

Date: Thursday, 19 February

Venue: AM101, Alan MacDiarmid Building, Kelburn Campus

Speaker: Professor Wei Shen


China is witnessing a massive surge in urbanisation as millions of people move from rural areas to bustling urban centres. Thirty years ago, China was a land of villages and rural communities. It is now a largely urban country. According to China's National Statistics Bureau, in January 2012, the number of urban dwellers represented 690.8 million, nearly 51.3% of China's total population of 1.35 billon. Although the rise of mega-cities is a phenomenon across Asia, the speed and scale of China’s urban development is unprecedented in human history. Rapid urbanisation has been a major driver in boosting China's economic growth and reform. It is also one of the key development challenges facing China. Migration to urban centres and the physical expansion of cities and metropolitan areas in China is putting immense pressure on energy resources, environment, health, public funds and basic facilities services. Many Chinese cities are now battling with congestion and pollution, while rising real estate prices and lack of access to affordable social housing are becoming a source of instability. This paper explores the drastic consequences by this unprecedented emergence of cities from different angles: migration, environment and structural coordination etc., and what important steps needed to deal with these daunting challenges faced by China’s cities.

About the speaker

Professor Wei SHEN is the Director of Confucius Institute and Professor of International Business at Lancaster University (UK) since September 2014, and holds the Jean Monnet Chair in EU - China relations funded by the European Commission. He is also the founding Co-Chair of Alliance of Chinese and European Business Schools (ACE) and Vice-President of EU-Asia Centre. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS/IBG), Wei Shen been an invited professor at Sciences Po de Paris, Institut des Hautes Etudes Européennes (Strasbourg), Antwerp Management School and a number of leading Chinese universities. He has been (re-)elected as the President of the Asia-Europe Foundation University Network (ASEFUAN) since 2013.

After an upbringing in Shanghai, Wei has studied and worked in different countries in Asia and Europe. He received PhD in Human Geography from Loughborough University (UK), LLM from Stockholms Universitet, European Master in Law and Economics and MA in Urban Management from Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, His academic pursuit also led him to CERI/CNRS Sciences Po Paris, Bocconi (Milan), Linkoping, Hamburg and Warwick universities. He has received numerous scholarships and grants from the Royal Society, Universities Committee in London, Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies, European Commission and University Association of Contemporary European Studies (UACES). Prior to joining Lancaster University, Wei Shen worked as Associate Dean at ESSCA School of Management in Angers (France) and for a number of international organizations including Council of Europe (Strasbourg), Asia-Europe Foundation (Singapore), International Organisation for Migration (Geneva), UNESCO (Hamburg) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (Rome), as well as a foreign-owned enterprise in Shanghai. Wei Shen is currently an independent academic expert for the European Commission and part of the peer review college for EFMD accreditations.

Wei Shen has published widely on the topics of Asia-Europe relations, international education, migration and China’s economy and global role, and his articles and interviews have appeared on Environment and Practices, International Journal of Educational Development, Environment and Planning A, Le Monde L'Atlas des civilisations, Asia-Europe Journal, Le Monde, International Herald Tribune/New York Times, China Daily, Science Career, UK House of Commons and Xinhua News Agency etc. Wei Shen serves on the editorial board for Journal of Contemporary China, Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economiesand has reviewed for the Academy of Management and Cambridge Journal of International Affairs among others.He currently coordinates the UACES-funded Collaborative Research Network on EU-China Relations with colleagues from College of Europe and Free University of Berlin. Wei Shen is the recipient of a number of awards including the Sir Robert Martin University Medal from Loughborough University, Fellowship of Salzburg Seminar and Our Common Future Fellowship from Volkswagen and Mercator Foundations.