Edited by Kris Bezdecny and Kevin Archer
Chapter 6: China’s New Urbanization Plan: Crafting China’s new cities or more of the cliché?
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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