The Wild Growth of Chahua Area along Second Line

Chahua area 插花地 is a native Chinese term, referring to a general term for lands where are interlocking and lack of clear borders among different districts. They are formed with the formation, development and change of different districts with unique historical and social conditions like enclave land. Its existence has a negative influence on social stability, administrative management, economic and social development or people’s life.

Chahua area emerged in Shenzhen after the construction of Second Line Border. The area next to the border theoretically belongs to the Ministry of Public Security who takes charge of Customs and Frontier Patrols. However, when a borderline was set inside the city instead of next to the city, the administration of such an area may be confusing since the district government is supposed to take care of its territory. Such conflict causes an administrative vacuum. Without a clear boundary, people organically came there and built their own houses out of the control of land policy. Dirty and messy, crowded with low-income people, Chahua Area always gives the public such a bad impression.

There are several Chahua Areas around Buji, Meilin and Luohu. Residents can always find an excuse for their land ownership to escape from the fortune of demolition or ask a high price for their compensation. The government cannot compromise with local residents so Chahua Area issue kept unsolved till recent years when the Second Line was abandoned. Lots of signs saying “Ramp Danger, Keep Off” can be seen along the villages, which is typical for Chahua Area Village because of the typography concern of the site choice of Second Line so most of them are located along mountain side. For example, for Chahua Area in Louhu, the shantytown transformation project here started in 2016 after the regulation came out for the compension of demolition of Chahua Area residents in Louhu.

The demolition of Mumianling, a famous Chahua Area in Luhuo. Accessed from: 新华网


Rendering Picture of the Design of Mumianling Area, a modern community with high-level green rate. Accessed from: 新华网

With the completion of the demolition of Second Line Border, more and more Chahua Area will be released for well-planned urban development. What will be the next stage of the previous Chahua Area? Is a modern block the best choice for this place with lots of old memories? Whether the answer is yes or not, it’s good to see that this tough issue could be solved.


  1. The transformation of  Chahua Area along Second Line in Shenzhen Luohu 深圳罗湖棚改全面施工 “二线插花地”正华丽转身. SEZ Daily深圳特区报,2017-9-22.
  2.  The shantytown transformation projects in Chahua Area challenge the designers’ use of law thinking深圳“二线插花地”棚改考量决策者法治思维. Accessed from:
  3. Wang Ting王婷. The Research of shantytown transformation based on the idea of humanism, a case study of Chahua Area in Luohu基于以人为本理念的城市棚户区改造研究——以深圳罗湖“二线插花地”改造为例. The 14th CUPD Congress. 2019
  4. Yang Bin杨斌. The research of Chahua Area in Sichuan GuizhouRegion from Ming Dynasty 明清以来川(含渝)黔交界地区插花地研究. Southwest University. 2011

3 Comments on “The Wild Growth of Chahua Area along Second Line

  1. Chahua Area is an interesting term I never heard before and I like the explanation about the “vacuum”. I want to know whether there is any other difficulty to demolish the urban village in Chahua Area except the compensation issue?

    • There are three main challenges,
      First, the ownership of the land is obscure in terms of the illegal builing, rebuilding and extensions. Even for the house with a ownership certificate of the land, it is difficult to find since most of the buildings in Chahua Area were finished 40 years ago and it has been resold several times. As a result, the identification of compensation entity is hard to tell.
      Second, most of the Chahua Area Villages are formed without a clear planning and restrictions. Safety risks such as fire, collapse and landslides can be seen everywhere. In some villages, the road is too narrow to let the fire engines in. The demolition projects call for detailed evalutaion and examination.
      Third, as I mentioned in the post, the government cannot compromise with the residents for the compensation. The low-income villagers are difficult to satisfy, which makes the situation tougher.

  2. The use of text, images, and historical documents is well done in this series of posts. The question of the 插花地is also provocative, and brings to mind that while planning seeks to eliminate uncertainty and to rationalize territory, it often produces unforeseen results, accidents, and contradictions. At the same time, we mustn’t forget that in a place like Shenzhen, areas such as urban villages, or areas without strict regulation are also key to the success of the city – they provide cheap labour, networks and resources, but are often deemed as “undesirable”. These administrative loopholes or gaps are often also vibrant, and operative sites for bottom-up initiatives.

    PS Please remember to caption and cite all your images

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.