China Perspectives 2017/1


Urban Planning in China

Concepts, Actors, and Projects

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China Perspectives 2017/1

Special Feature

Editorial – Urban Planning in China Page 3

Nicolas Douay

Techniques and Concepts for Shaping the Future: Assessment of Current Planning Thought Through a Content Analysis of Town Planning Textbooks Page 7

Lisa Melcher

ABSTRACT: Which bodies of knowledge and which paradigms of thinking shape spatial plans? A content analysis of three textbooks on town planning shows that on the one hand, planning standards, models, and paradigms for technical modernisation are well developed, while on the other hand, environmental planning and preservation of culture have been identified as current challenges. Introductions to town planning have been found to shift between routinely presenting established approaches and exploring solutions or technical approaches to challenges to town development.
KEYWORDS: towns, spatial planning, urban planning, spatial development strategies, urbanisation.

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Duoguiheyi: Chinese Planning Faces the Test of Integration Page 15

Martin TzouDu ShuLiu Lidan

ABSTRACT: Chinese urban planning has recently begun an institutional revolution that seeks to integrate plans drawn up by several ministries. Aimed at giving more coherence to public action, the process of integration, already technically complex, is confronted with a power struggle between administrations, making duoguiheyi difficult to implement.
KEYWORDS: urban planning, integrated approach, institutional reform, sustainable cities.

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Singapore, a Model for (Sustainable?) Urban Development in China: An Overview of 20 Years of Sino-Singaporean Cooperation Page 25

Rémi Curien

ABSTRACT: In order to face the challenge of sustainable urban development on its own territory, China has chosen Singapore as its model and privileged partner. By analysing more than 20 years of cooperation, the aim of this article is to study what sort of vision and model for development China is pursuing, how the “Singaporean model” is imported and incorporated by Chinese stakeholders, and in what ways it is transforming the specificities in planning, building, and organising the country’s cities. Our analysis covers two Sino-Singaporean urban operations that are currently leading the way in China: the Suzhou Industrial Park and the Tianjin eco-city. The incorporation of the Singaporean model into these two operations shows that the latter offers an effective way of linking economic development with urban production, and of enabling the building of orderly cities with good environmental standards. However, these advances have only been made possible by the capacity to take political and financial initiatives that are still exceptional in the country as a whole, and until now do not appear to be easily extendable to other Chinese cities. Moreover, the Sino-Singaporean view of urban development based on productivity and concentrating on supply, infrastructure, and technology encounters major limitations in terms of environmental sobriety and the cities’ social integration.
KEYWORDS: urban planning, eco-city, sustainable urban development, environment, models, infrastructure, technology, institutions, China, Singapore.

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Organisational Learning Analysis and Transfers of “Eco-City” Concepts to China: The Example of Yangzhou Page 37

Giulia C. Romano

ABSTRACT: This article aims at showing the benefits of applying organisational learning theories to the study of transfers of eco-city concepts to China. Following this recommendation in the study of the transfer of the concept of “careful urban renewal” to the city of Yangzhou, this article shows that the contribution of international cooperation to reforming local urban development practices can be strongly hindered by the extant institutional and organisational structures. Consequently, the reform process may present characteristics of instability and patchiness, in turn resulting in a selective, gradual and uncertain introduction of new approaches to city (re)development.
KEYWORDS: transfers, eco-cities, careful urban renewal, organisational learning, Yangzhou inner city.

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Institutional Change in China’s Sustainable Urban Development: A Case Study on Urban Renewal and Water Environmental Management Page 45

Daniele BrombalAngela Moriggi

ABSTRACT: Over the past decade, the concept of sustainable development has gained increasing importance within China’s urban development. Urban(ising) China not only catalyses many of the country’ sustainability issues, but also constitutes the locus where novel institutional arrangements for sustainable development are tested and implemented. This paper explores new paradigms of integrated territorial management unfolding in areas where concerns of water pollution intersect with objectives of urban renewal. The analysis focuses on the case of the Lihu Lake basin, located in the city of Wuxi (Jiangsu Province), considered by many observers to be at the forefront in China’s quest for sustainable urban development. In Lihu the integration of environmental management with urban planning has led to the creation of a new organisational field, revolving around the issue of sustainable development of urban areas, with distinctive regulatory, normative, and cognitive aspects. While epitomising a case of integrated territorial management, the experience of Lihu Lake basin highlights the challenge of fostering inclusive social development in urban areas.
KEYWORDS: integrated territorial management, institutional change, water environmental management, urban planning, sustainability, China.

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Financing Urban Growth in China: A Case Study of Qujing, a Medium-Sized City in Yunnan Province Page 57

Thierry Theurillat

ABSTRACT: Illustrated by a case study on the urban development of a medium-sized city in China, this article develops a theoretical framework to help understand the role the financial system plays in the urban development model based on land in China. Three fields of literature have been used in order to link the various mechanisms between land, urban infrastructure, property development, and financing channels in urban production. The case study illustrates the many interactions between local government and real estate businesses, both state and private, as well as local banks, in order to create urban infrastructure that responds to “communal and public” needs and real estate objectives of a “private and individual” nature. In doing so, it highlights the fundamental role of capital in urban production in China.
KEYWORDS: urban development, China, medium-sized city, financial system, real estate.

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Evolution of Chinese Ghost Cities: Opportunity for a Paradigm Shift? The Case of Changzhou Page 69

Li Mingye

ABSTRACT: In the late 2000s, the phenomenon of ghost cities emerged in China, including not only boomtowns such as Ordos but also “ordinary” third- and fourth-tier cities such as Changzhou. Based on a conceptual framework of China’s land-driven growth machine under entrepreneurial governance, we update the ghost city phenomenon through an in-depth empirical study of a third-tier city, Changzhou. The objective of this paper is to expand our understanding of how excessive accumulation of real estate assets has come to dominate the landscape of this type of city against the background of China’s economic slowdown. The author argues that overbuilding is due to the malfunction of the classic urban expansion model under entrepreneurial governance. In the case of Changzhou, the local government continued massive “sales” of residential and commercial land while effective housing demand was declining due to slowdowns in the local manufacturing industry and in population growth. In response to the “New Normal” advocated by the central government, the government of Changzhou redirected its land and housing policy. Nevertheless, more profound reforms are needed to change the paradigm of growth-oriented urbanism.
KEYWORDS: Ghost city, urban expansion, real estate, growth machine, entrepreneurial governance, Changzhou, China.

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Thames Town, an English Cliché: The Urban Production and Social Construction of a District Featuring Western-style Architecture in Shanghai Page 79

Carine HenriotMartin Minost

ABSTRACT: This article contributes to the development of a reading grid for the globalisation of urban models and their hybrid forms through an analysis of the urban production and social construction of a district in the suburbs of an emerging Chinese metropolis based on a casestudy of Thames Town, located in the new city of Songjiang, to the south-west of Shanghai. First, this contribution gives an account of the circulation of internationalised urban planning models and practices and the local development of public-private growth coalitions, that is to say, the establishment of new configurations of players promoting “urban marketing” both at the level of the Shanghai Municipality and that of the District of Songjiang. Secondly, this urban creation with its borrowed architectural forms raises questions with regard to both its morphology and its social reception/construction. The “Town on the Thames” presents a meticulous English-style layout that crystallises the tensions encountered in Chinese urban peripheries: gated communities, the staging of Western architectural styles and their appropriation by the inhabitants, the identity enhancement they represent, and over and above this, relationship of the self to others and of others to the self. What do these districts with their Western-style architecture teach us about the way Shanghai, a metropolis that wishes to transmit its own model of Chinese urban planning, thinks, produces, and appropriates the Chinese city?
KEYWORDS: urban circulation model, urban production, public-private partnership, urban marketing, social construction, gated community, Shanghai.

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Shanghai: City Planning “With a Human Face”: The Case of the Gubei Pedestrian Promenade (GPP): The Pedestrianisation of a Densely Populated Area Page 87

Brigitte BertoncelloLély TanJian Zhuo

ABSTRACT: Ever since Expo 2010 was held in Shanghai, the city has been trying to present an image of itself as having the capacity to offer amenities that are more environmentally friendly and that contribute to an improved quality of life. This article aims to show that a locally-enacted facility – far from the much-publicised monumental developments – can constitute a high point of urban activity, an example that contributes to cultivating the sought-after identity of a modern city concerned about the sustainability of its actions. Thanks to a singular grouping of actors from the public, semi-public, and private sectors, the Gubei Pedestrian Promenade (GPP) in the western district of Changning laid the principles of a sustainable urban planning programme ten years before the publication of Shanghai’s New City Plan, resetting the ways for building the city. From today’s perspective, this initiative could be seen as a manifestation of this new way of imagining the city.
KEYWORDS: public pedestrian space, urban design, urban renewal, public/private cooperation, Shanghai.

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CEFC News Analysis

Private Entrepreneurs Challenging the Socialist System? The Election Fraud in the People’s Congress of Liaoning Province and Its Implications Page 97

Anthony H. F. Li

Book Reviews

Chang P’eng-yüan (Zhang Pengyuan), Cong minquan dao weiquan. Sun Zhongshan di xunzheng sixiang yu zhuanzhe jian lun dangren jizhi shushi (From tutelage to authoritarianism: Sun Yat-sen’s thoughts on tutelage, its transformation, and the accomplishment of his project by Guomindang members) Page 102

Marie-Claire Bergère

Gunter Schubert (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Taiwan Page 104

Saša Istenič



























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