Handbook on Urban Development in China
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Handbook on Urban Development in China

Edited by Ray Yep, June Wang and Thomas Johnson

The trajectory and logic of urban development in post-Mao China have been shaped and defined by the contention between domestic and global capital, central and local state and social actors of different class status and endowment. This urban transformation process of historic proportion entails new rules for distribution and negotiation, novel perceptions of citizenship, as well as room for unprecedented spontaneity and creativity. Based on original research by leading experts, this book offers an updated and nuanced analysis of the new logic of urban governance and its implications.
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Chapter 8: Transformation of Chinese cities and city-regions in the era of globalization

Xu Zhang


Since the late 1970s, the post-Mao economic transition has led to rapid urbanization and a profound restructuring of cities and city-regions in China. This chapter reviews the trajectory of China’s post-1978 urbanization and explores the shifting patterns of urban and regional development within the country’s changing political and economic context. It aims to understand how the complex relationship between globalization, marketization and state intervention has constantly (re)shaped urban and regional transformation in the Chinese context, and to reveal the geographical diversity of this transformation. The key argument is that cities and city-regions in China are a material expression of the state’s economic development ideologies and strategies. The transformation of cities and city-regions in the era of globalization should be examined by looking at the combination of their existing, path-dependent economic basis, their available, unique local assets and, critically, their positions in the state’s strategic spatial development choices and urbanization policies.

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