Corporatist New Urbanization or Statist Neo-liberalization: The Case of China’s Leading Industrial City Builder—China Fortune Land Development Corporation (CFLD)

Authors: Jun Zhang*, University of Toronto, Xiaofan Luan*, Wuhan University
Topics: China, Urban and Regional Planning, Economic Geography
Keywords: China, urbanization, neoliberalism, PPP, industrial cluster
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8216, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


China’s rapid urbanization and industrialization have stimulated the rise of, and been stimulated by, a new generation of highly-integrated urban solution providers, represented by CFLD. At a time of vertical disintegration and flexible specialization, the business model of CFLD is conversely characterized by massive vertical integration, covering a whole constellation of fields, including urban planning and design, urban infrastructure and real estate development, urban infrastructure operation and maintenance, industrial investment promotion and services, startup incubation and acceleration, and a sophisticated financial platform supporting all its operations. To date, CFLD has developed 100+ new cities, 200+ industry clusters, and hosted 2000+ industrial investors, in China and around the world. In this paper, we document the corporate history and summarize the business model of CFLD. We argue that the phenomenal rise of CFLD is not any kind of anti-statist neoliberalism but statist neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics. CFLD has 1) profited from the momentum of China’s urbanization and industrialization, 2) seized the opportunity of local Chinese governments’ thirst for rapid urban expansion and industrial leap-forward, 3) ridden the global tide of Public-Private Partnership (PPP), and 4) cashed in the privilege of China’s state-dominated land and financial regimes . Accordingly, CFLD has become Chinese style urban-cum-industry growth machine par excellence. CFLD has advanced China’s state-controlled, investment-driven, debt-financed, and land-centric growth model, to the awe and envy of politicians in advanced economies. Meanwhile, it has added further uncertainty and vulnerability to the already fragile Chinese capitalism.

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