Pseudo-urbanization or real urbanization? urban China's mergence of administrative regions and its effects: A case study of Zhongshan city, Guangdong province

Yungang Liu, Zhigang Li, Jie Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

After the market reforms and opening up of China in the late 1970s, local governments played a central role in the country's rapid urbanization, particularly through the mergence of administrative regions (MAR). However, the effect of these MARs is still debatable. On the one hand, an MAR can accelerate the pace of economic growth, reshape the power structure, and establish necessary coordination among different regions. On the other hand, a MAR can have negative effects which have led to "pseudo-urbanization" in other developing countries. What is the effect of the local, state-led MAR in China? This study examines the MAR implemented by the local government of Zhongshan city, Guangdong province. The MAR is found to be associated with the robust growth of the downtown area and of the urban population; it has gradually reshaped the socioeconomic structure of the city, the urban landscape, and the identity of its residents. MARs in China are arguably characterized by a transition from pseudo-urbanization to "real" urbanization. This transition cannot be explained by existing urban theories, such as the "growth machine," "urban regime," or "entrepreneurial city." Therefore, we use the term "government-led merging urbanization" (GMU) to define the process. We further suggest that the GMU concept can be used as a model of urbanization or urban growth. This model provides an important perspective for examining the role played by local governments in the process of urbanization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-59
Number of pages23
JournalChina Review
Volume14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies

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