Another Great Leap Forward

What happens to humanity and the earth when millions of rural subsistence farmers are incentivised to sell their land, ditch their agrarian way of life and learn to live as middle class consumers in one of China’s newly constructed urban provinces?

In this #FutureofCities story, photographer Justin Jin takes a look at China’s current mega-scheme in social engineering; a mammoth plan to encourage future economic growth by transforming the country’s rural dwellers into urban, domestic consumers.

These images were shot in Hebei province, just outside Beijing, as part of a larger body of work in which Justin travelled through Chinese cities, meeting people who have been caught up in China's latest social upheaval.

  • Hebei 1

    Justin Jin

    Hebei

    Sony α7S, Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, (F-Stop: 7.1, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 100)

    Hebei Province, China. A man walks through a ‘replacement’ housing estate built to compensate farmers for their lost land as the Chinese government urbanises large swathes of the countryside.

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  • Hebei 14

    Justin Jin

    Hebei

    Sony α7S, Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, (F-Stop: 11, Shutter: 1/200, ISO: 100)

    Hebei Province, China. A 66-year-old sheep farmer says he dreads moving into an apartment because of the lack of food security.

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  • Hebei 2

    Justin Jin

    Hebei

    Sony α7S, Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, (F-Stop: 11, Shutter: 1/500, ISO: 200)

    Hebei Province, China. A demolition worker breaks down old houses to reclaim building material.

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  • Hebei

    Justin Jin

    Hebei

    Sony α7S, Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, (F-Stop: 4, Shutter: 1/200, ISO: 400)

    Hebei Province, China. A couple greet their former village neighbours as they move into their new relocation housing built over recently cleared farmland. In a move to increase the size of China’s middle class and boost demand, the government intends to move 100 million people from the countryside into cities by 2020. In many cases farmers are being moved off their land and compensated for their loss with flats in new housing developments.

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  • Hebei 8

    Justin Jin

    Hebei

    Sony α7S, Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, (F-Stop: 4, Shutter: 1/60, ISO: 12800)

    Hebei Province, China. A couple move into their apartment in their ‘replacement’ housing estate.

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  • Hebei 12

    Justin Jin

    Hebei

    Sony α7S, Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, (F-Stop: 10, Shutter: 1/160, ISO: 100)

    Hebei Province, China. A ‘replacement’ housing estate in Hebei Province, China.

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  • Hebei 6

    Justin Jin

    Hebei

    Sony α7S, Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, (F-Stop: 4, Shutter: 1/125, ISO: 12800)

    Hebei Province, China. The construction boom has caused widespread air pollution.

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  • Hebei 7

    Justin Jin

    Hebei

    Sony α7S, Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, (F-Stop: 11, Shutter: 1/800, ISO: 200)

    Hebei Province, China. Workers walk on a road paved over recently reclaimed farmland.

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  • Hebei 10

    Justin Jin

    Hebei

    Sony α7S, Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, (F-Stop: 11, Shutter: 1/200, ISO: 200)

    Hebei Province, China. Estate agents wait for clients in front of commercial residential blocks built over farmland.

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  • Hebei 15

    Justin Jin

    Hebei

    Sony α7S, Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, (F-Stop: 11, Shutter: 1/160, ISO: 100)

    A woman walks her granddaughter at their relocation housing estate built over land they lost in Hebei Province, China.

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  • Hebei 11

    Justin Jin

    Hebei

    Sony α7S, Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, (F-Stop: 7.1, Shutter: 1/100, ISO: 200)

    Beijing, China. Devoid of land, but flushed with relative luxury, farmers can enjoy leisure activities previously unimagined.

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Justin Jin

Justin Jin

“Photography is a form of meditation. Stepping into the world, you are physically very close to people and their emotions, yet, to create meaningful work, you must remain detached. “

Justin crosses borders, mountains and permafrost to tell powerful human stories. He began his career as a Reuters correspondent writing about social and economic issues, where he eventually became head of an eight-person team in Southern China. He is now based in Brussels and is a member of Panos Pictures.

Justin’s background in journalism has continued to inform his current independent work on multidisciplinary photography and video projects for high profile clients including National Geographic, Sunday Times, Stern and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.

Justin joins Sony Global Imaging Ambassadors with a #FutureofCities story on Hebei province in China. The series is part of a larger body of work in which Justin travelled through Chinese cities, meeting people who have been caught up in the communist government’s latest controversial mega-scheme to reshape Chinese society by moving millions of people into newly constructed urban housing.

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