The Chinese Smart City: The State, Technology, and Discourse

Authors: Yawei Zhao*, University of Calgary, Eliot Tretter, University of Calgary
Topics: Urban Geography, China
Keywords: China, smart city, governmentality, social justice, environment
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon C1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The smart city concept first appeared in the Chinese media in the late 2000s and has since the early 2010s been codified as an official state planning practice. This paper highlights how the smart city concept has evolved in China and how it has supported the Chinese state's program of constructing a favorable, ambitious, and imaginary vision for Chinese cities of the future. Policy documents and promotional materials produced by the central state, several ‘pilot smart cities,’ and a number of high-tech companies involved in the Chinese smart city rollout are analyzed in this paper with specific attention to how these three institutional complexes have worked together to co-produce and circulate a discourse about the creation of a new Chinese smart city. In addition, drawing upon the current discussions about technology-utopias and governmentality, this paper discusses the political, social, and ecological implications of urban smartness in the Chinese context.

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