Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities
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Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities

Edited by Kris Bezdecny and Kevin Archer

The majority of the world's population now live in cities, nearly a quarter of which boast populations of one million or more. The rise of globalisation has granted cities unprecedented significance, both politically and economically, leading to benefits and problems at national and international levels. The Handbook of Emerging 21st-Century Cities explores the changes that are occurring in cities, and the impacts that they are having, at the local, national and global scale.
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Chapter 6: China’s New Urbanization Plan: Crafting China’s new cities or more of the cliché?

Yin-wah Chu


This chapter examines two major initiatives of China’s ‘New Urbanization Plan (2014-2020),’ namely, efforts to optimize the pattern of urbanization in China and to allow some rural migrants to register as urban residents. It will make three interrelated arguments. First, the Plan not only presents a blueprint for spatial development, it also at once outlines spatial fixes to simultaneously address the challenges of economic development and social inclusion, and designs the latter to buttress each other. Second, the spatial fixes and the Plan in general adhere to the logic of ‘state neoliberalism,”’ a term coined to characterize the Communist Party-state’s development strategy, which subjects the social inclusion initiatives to market relations and so circumscribes their effectiveness. Third, in juxtaposing the New Urbanization Plan with China’s post-1949 patterns of urban development, the chapter argues in addition that, while the Plan and its initiatives hold elements of novelty, they follow from and are reflective of the country’s ongoing practices of urbanization. Significantly, urban agglomeration has not been a function of economic development alone, but also reflective of statist interests in national security and ‘socialist’ legitimacy. Taken together, while not advocating the articulation of country-specific theories of urbanization, it suggests the need for greater historical and institutional sensitivity in their development.

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