Chapter 3: The administrative structure and restructuring of cities in contemporary China
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This chapter examines the changing architecture of China’s contemporary urban governance, surveying English- and Chinese-language scholarship from various disciplines. Three aspects of China’s urban administrative structure and restructuring are considered: First, the chapter introduces China’s urban administrative hierarchy and the evolution of that hierarchy since the 1980s. Second, the chapter explores the territorial arrangements of major cities and processes of administrative division adjustment. Third, the chapter examines the remaking of urban government bureaucracy and the ever-shifting relationships between urban administrative subunits and special zones. Across all three of these dimensions, China’s urban governance has been marked by ambiguity, flexibility, and contestation. While sequential efforts to rationalize China’s urban governance have yielded some successes, they have also introduced new complexities.

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