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The Chinese Urban System: Political Evolution and Economic Transition

  • Elfie Swerts
  • Liao Liao
Chapter
Part of the Advances in Geographical and Environmental Sciences book series (AGES)

Abstract

The huge Chinese urban development supports the growing importance of China in the world urbanization, politics, and economy. In this context, our goal is to evaluate whether the Chinese urbanization process reveals some universal dynamic or if the 40 years of strong political control singles out the Chinese urban system. Our analysis of the Chinese urban system is based on an original data corpus, which describes the demographic and economic characteristic of the 9476 cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants in China. It allows to draw up a first picture of the demographic evolution of the Chinese city system from 1982 to 2010 and of the resulting functional specialization of Chinese urban agglomerations in 2011. It shows that the Chinese urban system follows universal dynamic trends but is quite influenced by the administrative system which defines the powers of cities. The Chinese urbanization is both characterized by the development of huge megalopolises and the strong growth of some small and medium cities. This can be partly linked with the political decentralization that gave to cities, including the small ones, the role of “engine producing modernity.” The evolution of the administrative system and economic specialization also influences the urban development. Thus, the cities in the Eastern coast have been steadily developed during the past decades mainly because of the advantage of SEZ policies and the development of manufacturing activities. But with a more recent development of the SEZ in the Central and Western part of China, and the diversification of the Chinese economy, the strongest potential for demographic and economic growth could be expanded from the Eastern coast to all over the country.

Keywords

Urban system China Cities’ trajectories Decentralization Economic specialization 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Lausanne, Institute of Geography and SustainabilityLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.University of Aix-MarseilleAix en ProvenceFrance

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