Financialization in the making of the new Wuhan

Authors: Xiaofan Luan*, Wuhan University, Zhigang Li, Wuhan University
Topics: China, Urban Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: financialization, local financing platform, project land package, spatial production, China, Wuhan
Session Type: Paper
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The miraculous growth of China, particularly in its large cities, has received much attention in recent decades. Most literature, however, concentrates on large and developed coastal regions or globalizing cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen; far less is known about central or western cities, where the unprecedented growth and new construction are also taking place. Moreover, little is known about the actual process of their city making, especially from a financial perspective. To address these gaps, in this article we examine the making of the new Wuhan, capital city of Hubei Province and central China, to interrogate the actual process by which underdeveloped or developing Chinese cities resort to financialization to achieve planning aims, build new spaces, and fund infrastructures. Through case studies, fieldwork, and interviews conducted during the past several years in the contexts of three typical projects - Zhongshan Avenue (ZA), East Lake Greenway (ELG), and 27 Riverside Business District (RBD) - we examine modalities, evaluate their effects, and articulate specific institutional arrangements: the local financing platform (LFP), the project land package, and various efforts to financialize these projects. In this vein, we contribute to the literature on urban China by highlighting the close relationship between planning strategies and the financialization of urban space. Our findings articulate ‘state entrepreneurism’, especially the active role of the local states when producing new spaces. We call for further attention to the variegated modalities and effects of financialization across different contexts, in particular that of emerging Chinese cities.

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