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Spatial production and spatial dialectic: Evidence from the New Urban Districts in China

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New Urban Districts (NUDs) are the important spatial carriers to promote urban expansion or transformation. Since the 1990s, they have been playing a more and more crucial role in China’s urbanization. For NUDs in the strict sense we found that: 96% to the east of Hu Line; 56% within the municipal districts; 64% within 36 km from their every city center and below the area of 423 km2. The regional distribution follows significant spatial difference as “Eastern Region (50%) - Central Region (42%) - Western Region (8%)”, and the provinces with the largest number of NUDs are Guangdong, Henan, Zhejiang, Liaoning, and Ji-angsu. Furthermore, their interesting constructed process highlights the typical characteristics of spatial production and spatial dialectic. This paper uses the theory of the production of space, and discovers that the growth of NUDs is a rapid ternary dialectical process of spatial production: “representations of space” is guided by the top-down governmental power; “spatial practice” is reflected in the hierarchical and regional difference of spatial elements, such as the type, pattern, distance and area of NUD; “spaces of representation” embodies the tension between governmental power and urban development rights, as well as the coun-termeasure mechanism. The extensibility of spatiotemporal sequences ensures the unity and continuity of spatial (re)production of NUDs. However, this is also facing a series of challenges like the management coordination of administrative division and the increasing unbalanced or inadequate development. Thus, critically rethinking the evolution of NUD is the key basis for achieving sustainable urban renewal and regional orderly development in the new era.

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Correspondence to Chao Ye.

Additional information

Foundation: National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41571138, No.41771171, No.41871143, No.41961029

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Zhuang, L., Ye, C. & Hu, S. Spatial production and spatial dialectic: Evidence from the New Urban Districts in China. J. Geogr. Sci. 29, 1981–1998 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11442-019-1700-4

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  • new town
  • urbanization
  • production of space
  • ternary dialectic
  • administrative division
  • development zone