China’s Urban Century
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China’s Urban Century

Governance, Environment and Socio-Economic Imperatives

Edited by François Gipouloux

The achievements of China’s urbanization should not be evaluated solely in terms of adequate infrastructures, but also in their ability to implement sound governance practices to ensure social, environmental and economic development. This book addresses several key challenges faced by Chinese cities, based on the most recent policies and experiments adopted by central and local governments. The contributors offer an interdisciplinary analysis of the urbanization process in China, and examine the following key topics: the institutional foundations of Chinese cities, the legal status of the land, the rural to urban migration, the preservation of the urban heritage and the creation of urban community, and the competitiveness of Chinese cities. They define the current issues and challenges emerging from China’s urbanization.
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Chapter 3: Central–local relations in Chinese urbanization: the case of Chongqing

Pu Yongjian and Xiong Ailun


Since reform and opening up, urbanization in China has achieved some remarkable results: the urban population rose from 17.92 per cent in 1978 to 52 per cent in 2012, and more than 500 million people, formerly part of the agricultural population, settled in urban areas, the largest growth in world history. Because of limited rates of growth, many countries have encountered problems of unemployment, urban poverty and squalor during the process of urbanization. However, China has succeeded in avoiding the ‘common city syndrome’ by controlling population mobility and sustaining the continuous growth of the economy. Therefore China’s urbanization can be regarded as a great achievement (World Bank and Development Research Centre of the State Council, 2014). Of course, there have also been many conflicts and unsolved problems. For instance, a large proportion of the former agricultural population has experienced difficulties in integrating into urban society as a result of the household registration (hukou) system. The urban agricultural population is not able to fully benefit from basic public services such as education, employment, medical insurance and affordable housing, creating a wide gap between this population and urban citizens. In addition, land finance presents a major problem of malpractice in China’s urbanization. In order to reap the benefits, local governments rely heavily on the sale of land, which results in inefficient land use (State Council, 2014). What is worse, local governments tend to evade the central government’s regulations when taking land from farmers.

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