Shanghai swings: The Hongqiao project and competitive urbanism in the Yangtze River Delta

Authors: Yanpeng Jiang*, School of Geography, The University of Hong Kong
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, China
Keywords: Competitive urbanism, cities in competition, nested territorial administrations, Hongqiao, Shanghai, Yangtze River Delta
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Truman, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

That cities compete against each other is a cliche´ of the contemporary neoliberal condition, in
which so much focus and energy is expended on a zero-sum-game of trying to outshine imagined
rivals. In this article, we examine how this type of competition plays itself out in China, and more
specifically in and around Shanghai, in the Yangtze River Delta. We argue that the competition
here, principally for foreign and domestic inward investment, is intense and multi-scalar. It is
fuelled in particular by China’s nested territorial administrative structure, leading to a situation
that eventually involves all scales, from district to central government. We choose therefore the
term competitive urbanism to encapsulate these multi-scalar and multi-directional competitive
forces. Lying at the centre of this competitive urbanism in the Yangtze River Delta is the giant new
Hongqiao project in west Shanghai, second only in expanse and ambition to Pudong. The Shanghai
municipal government has promoted this project partly in response to competitive pressures
from other cities in the Yangtze River Delta, and partly to swing the dynamic of growth westward
within the city and link it better to its hinterland. In this way, Hongqiao is reinforcing and
accelerating the competitive urbanism that characterizes China’s most prosperous region.

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