Chinese Geographical Science

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 98–112 | Cite as

How unique is ‘China Model’: A review of theoretical perspectives on China’s urbanization in Anglophone literature

  • Fenglong Wang
  • Yungang LiuEmail author


As a major aspect of the ‘China Model’, urbanization in China is being heatedly discussed in the Anglophone literature in the last two decades. By considering China’s urbanization as a ‘testing ground’ of ‘western’ theories, these studies are important for the understanding of China’s ongoing urban restructuring and exchanging knowledge with ‘western’ insights. Based on a survey of existing studies, this paper identifies various endogenous and exogenous concepts and explanations of China’s urbanization. It is suggested that China’s urbanization is mainly driven by a combination of political decentralization and neoliberalization with various forms of social stratification and mobility. However, it is argued that the distinctness of the ‘China Model’, which is usually used to support the legitimacy of studies of China’s urbanization, has led to many controversial arguments and diminished the due contributions of Chinese scholars in the knowledge production of China’s urbanization. To consolidate the legitimacy of studies on China’s urbanization and enhance the roles of Chinese scholars, we suggest future studies to pay more attentions to the fundamental theories with looser constraints and ‘true questions’ on Chi


theoretical perspective urbanization endogenous exogenous China Model 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agricultural Ecology, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography Sciences and Planning, Guangdong Key Laboratory for Urbanization and Geo-simulationSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of GeographyHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongChina

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