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 16: The making of the copy-cat city: accreditation tactics in place branding

Can-Seng Ooi


Some foreigners observe that Shanghai is very much like Western cities (see for example Gao, 2013; Gulliver, 2009). Although the people look different and the language sounds different, the city is essentially modern, well functioning and developed. It feels like a major financial centre, as if it were New York or London. Such comments can be considered flattering to the Chinese. Or the comments may merely reflect a lack of understanding of Shanghai. Or perhaps the comments are insulting because they insinuate that the Chinese metropolis is just another copy-cat city. Whatever the reason, these observers experience aspects of Chicago, Copenhagen or Canberra when they visit Shanghai. They see the efficient Pudong International Airport, the clean effective subway system, the numerous shopping malls along Huaihai Road, the towering skyscrapers, the creative districts of M50 and Red Town, and the trendy bars like Bar Rouge and Mint. They have seen it all before, and the Shanghai they are visiting seems to lack a unique Chinese character. Today, places, particularly cities, broadly compete in terms of livability, economic opportunities, attractiveness, and vibrancy to attract international investors, businesses, visitors, talented workers, and audiences (Dinnie, 2011; Florida, 2002). This competition has also led to a proliferation of branded places. Places must stand out in the competition. So, in the place branding literature, the concern is differentiation and uniqueness (see various contributions in Dinnie, 2011; Knudsen and Waade, 2010; Morgan and Pritchard, 2004).

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