Transforming Urban Landscapes in China’s Metropolises: The (Local) State, Society and Reproduction of Space Amidst Accelerated Urbanization

Authors: George Lin*, University of Hong Kong
Topics: China, Urban Geography, Asia
Keywords: Urbanization, Urban Renewal, Political Economy, China
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Governors Square 12, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


China's phenomenal urban transformation has been conventionally understood as the spatial outcome of the reformation of state-market relations. The current urban landscape observable today is described as a juxtaposition of two elements, namely the legacy of the socialist city and the newly emerged space of marketization. This research identifies a new wave of urbanization in which a reformulated state-society relationship has given rise to a new landscape of urban redevelopment. The remaking of China’s urban landscape is effectively shaped not so much by forces of agglomeration economies or bid-rent dynamism but rather by a negotiation and reconciliation of the interests between the (local) state and society. Existing land users are motivated by a decentralized power of decision-making and a share of the land conveyance income previously monopolized by the state. Urban redevelopment tends to prevail in those modes of land disposition that are either monopolized by the state or subject to close-door negotiation. Chinese land users are found to be more concerned over exclusivity than transferability of property rights. Redevelopment is less contentious in a “village-in the city” where decisions are made by the collective organization internally than the other involving developers externally. Land use intensity and efficiency have been improved along with intensified social exclusion and marginalization. Findings of this research call for special attention to be paid to China’s reformulated state-society relations as a new driving force reshaping its restless urban landscape.

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