Branding Chinese Mega-Cities
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Branding Chinese Mega-Cities

Policies, Practices and Positioning

Edited by Per Olof Berg and Emma Björner

This interdisciplinary book details the economic, cultural and social background of the development of Chinese mega-cities, as well as presenting the mechanisms of governance and urban growth strategies. Therein, the main discussion centres on the contemporary practice of city branding and development in China in relation to the rest of the world. This includes the way stakeholders and actors are engaged in city branding; the ‘societal forces’ that impact the city branding process; the way cities compete internationally; and how mega-cities build brands to strategically position themselves globally.
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Chapter 11: Heritage's place: heritage narratives in Chinese city promotional films

Marina Svensson


A city's character and identity are shaped by the diverse cultural, social and historical events that have taken place in the city. Many of those events have left an imprint on the urban landscape in the form of physical structures or are celebrated through specific monuments and buildings. The question, however, is what aspects of its history and heritage a city chooses to preserve and celebrate, how they are imagined and narrated in city branding, and what kind of organizations and which individuals are involved in this work. Heritage work and city branding have often been very top-down affairs managed by municipal governments, heritage bureaus and tourism offices that privilege those aspects of history and heritage that project a positive picture of the city, while ignoring other more problematic, contested or negative aspects of the city's heritage. This chapter begins with a general discussion on city branding and heritage, and the role of city promotional films in city branding. It then provides a brief background to heritage issues and urban developments in Beijing and Shanghai. The major focus of the article is an exploration of the role and use of cultural heritage in city branding and promotional films before and after two mega-events in China, namely the Beijing Olympics 2008 and the Shanghai World Expo 2010, and challenges to and problems with these heritage narratives and city branding exercises.

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