Category Archives: Institutions and policies

Keys to the city

Storper, Michael (2013) Keys to the city : how economics, institutions, social interaction, and politics shape development. Princeton University Press. 288 p. ISBN: 9781400846269

Why do some cities grow economically while others decline? Why do some show sustained economic performance while others cycle up and down? In Keys to the City, Michael Storper, one of the world’s leading economic geographers, looks at why we should consider economic development issues within a regional context–at the level of the city-region–and why urban economies develop unequally. Storper identifies four contexts that shape urban economic development: economic, institutional, innovational, interactional, and political. The book explores how these contexts operate and how they interact, leading to developmental success in some regions and failure in others. Demonstrating that the global economy is increasingly driven by its major cities, the keys to the city are the keys to global development. In his conclusion, Storper specifies eight rules of economic development targeted at policymakers. Keys to the City explains why economists, sociologists, and political scientists should take geography seriously.

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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中国城市竞争力报告 (2013 版) = Annual Report on Urban Competitiveness

倪鹏飞, 主编 Ni Pengfei, ed. (2013)中国城市竞争力报告 : 11 Zhongguo chengshi jingzhengli baogao. 北京 : 社会科学文献出版社 Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe. 460 p. ISBN: 978-7-5097-4575-5


ZG chengshi过去10年,中国城市在增长方式转变方面收效甚微,同时房价过高、环境恶化、社会问题多发等问题凸显,“城市病”不断加剧。寻求可持续的发展机制和走新型城市化道路成为中国城市当前所面对的迫切问题。本年度报告将“新基准:建设可持续竞争力理想城市”作为研究主题,就是对未来中国城市发展方向的一次追寻和探索。《中国城市竞争力报告No.11》在前十份报告十年研究的基础上,将城市竞争力理论又向前推进了一步,使其理论框架更加清晰,政策含义更加鲜明。首次将城市竞争力明确区分为产出的、当前的和短期的城市综合经济竞争力,城市产业体系竞争力与投入的、可持续的和长期的城市可持续竞争力三个组成部分。城市综合经济竞争力即城市创造价值的能力,体现为城市创造价值的规模、速度和效率,城市可持续竞争力即城市的要素与环境状况,体现为城市在主体素质、当地要素、当地需求、主体联系、公共制度和基础设施六个方面的状况。其中,以构建理想城市为目标,我们提出理想城市应该是以人为本的宜居城市、创业至上的宜商城市、公平包容的和谐城市、环境友好的生态城市、创新驱动的知识城市、城乡一体的全域城市、交流便捷的信息城市和开放多元的文化城市,并从城市可持续竞争力的六个方面提取出关键因素,按照理想城市的这八项特征重新组合,作为其构成成分。然后从这些构成成分出发,设计了可持续竞争力的指标体系。因此,城市可持续竞争力就反映了城市和理想城市的差距与城市不断迈向理想城市的能力。根据城市综合经济竞争力和城市可持续竞争力的指标体系,我们对中国293个城市的综合经济竞争力和287个城市的可持续竞争力进行了分析和比较,发现中国城市总体上在可持续竞争力及其八个方面距理想城市的标准都存在很大差距,每个方面都存在一系列迫切问题有待解决。未来中国城市的发展,必须以建设理想城市为目标,从可持续竞争力的八个方面入手,逐步解决各方面的问题,走新型城市化的可持续发展的道路。



New Benchmark: Constructing the Ideal city with Sustainable Competitiveness” It is a quest to explore the future development directions for cities in China. Based on research in the past ten reports,Annual Report on Urban Competitiveness(No.11)has achieved new progress in urban competitiveness theories with clearer theoretical framework and policy implications. It is the first time we clearly distinguish among the three parts of urban competitiveness,of which urban general economic competitiveness is the output,current and short-term aspect of urban competitiveness; urban industrial system competitiveness and urban sustainable competitiveness are the input,sustainable and long-term aspect of urban competitiveness. Urban general economic competitiveness shows cities’ ability to create value,which is reflected by the scale,speed and efficiency of cities’ value creation activity. Urban sustainable competitiveness is cities’ conditions of factors and environment,which is illustrated from six aspects,including the quality of economic agents,local factors,local demand,local and global connections,social systems and infrastructure. Aimed at building an ideal city,we claim that an ideal city should be people-oriented, livable city,entrepreneurship and business-friendly fair, inclusive, harmonious,environment-friendly,innovation-driven, city,urban-rural integrated,an communication and information friendly,culturally open and diversified. We extract key elements from the six aspects of urban sustainable competitiveness,and recompose them according to the eight characteristics of an ideal city. Then we design the index system of urban sustainable competitiveness. Therefore,a city’s urban sustainable competitiveness reflects the gap between an ideal city and its current state,as well as real cities ability to achieve the ideal. Based on the index system of urban general economic competitiveness and urban sustainable competitiveness,we analyze the urban general economic competitiveness of 293 cities and the urban sustainable competitiveness of 287 cities in China. And we find that there are big gaps between Chinese cities and the ideal city in terms of urban sustainable competitiveness in eight aspects. Each field needs to deal with a series of urgent problems. In the future,in order to build ideal cities and solve these problems effectively,Chinese cities should take the new path of urbanization and achieve sustainable development.


Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Is China about to introduce a national carbon price?

Arup, Tom. (2013) Where there’s smoke there’s China. The Age World, 8 May (accessed 7 June 2013).

As a former top diplomat in Beijing, and after three decades of professional and personal engagement with the country, Professor Ross Garnaut is no stranger to China.

In January, the respected economist and former Labor climate policy tsar found himself in Beijing again, this time to open a workshop hosted in part by China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission.

Gathered were a group of international policy wonks, including many Australians and local government officials. They met to discuss options for what some in the public debate deny is happening – the introduction of a national carbon price in China.

In just over a month China will begin a massive experiment in emissions trading when the first of seven regional pilot schemes kicks off (and which one day may develop into a national scheme).

The stakes are high. China emits one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases. It is easily the world’s largest consumer of coal. In 2011 it released an estimated 9.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the US and India combined.

In his speech Garnaut painted a cautious, but encouraging, picture of where China stands on climate change.

Read more here


Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Undo the discriminatory hukou system to achieve ‘cities of dream’?

1. Chan, Kam Wing. 2013, February 4. Turning China’s cities with invisible walls into cities of dreams. East Asian Forum (accessed 25 April 2013).

2. Chan, Kam Wing. 2013, January 19. China’s hukou system stands in the way of its dream of prosperity. South China Morning Post (accessed 25 April 2013). [Earlier version of 1.]

1. During a widely publicised tour of Shenzhen, China, the new head of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping, called for the realisation of the ‘Chinese dream’ — a great national revival.

Shortly after that, the Chinese character meng (dream) was voted ‘character of the year’ in an online poll of 50,000 people.

As China enters the urban age, a critical part of the Chinese dream is the ‘urban dream’: the promotion of urbanisation to generate household consumption to put the economy on a sustainable footing. This would steer China away from its currentexport- and investment-driven growth model, which has long been considered, even by the government, as ‘unbalanced’ and ‘unsustainable’.

Premier-designate Li Keqiang has championed urbanisation for years. Some media pundits are excited by his talk of a new type of urbanisation, though details are scant. Can he do it right and help China reach its urban dream?

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2. Dreams are in vogue in mainland China. During a widely publicised tour of Shenzhen, the new head of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping , called for the realisation of the “Chinese dream” – a great national revival. Right after that, the Chinese character meng (dream) was voted “character of the year” in an online poll of 50,000 people.

The new year also began with a political storm over a censored article dreaming of Chinese constitutional reform. Whether those dreams are more like a fantasy than realistic hope remains to be seen.

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  • Chan, Kam Wing. (1994) Cities with invisible walls : Reinterpreting urbanization in post-1949 China, Oxford university press, 194 p.
  • Chan, Kam Wing and Will Buckingham. (2008) Is China abolishing the hukou system? The China quarterly, 195, pp. 582-606. [Full text here]
  • 陈, 金永. 2013年05月13. 户籍改革路线图. 财新《新世纪》. [Accessed 28 May 2013].
  • 陈, 金永. 2013年06月1.十五年完成户籍改革. 财新《中国改革》. Dowload PDF here.
  • Kam Wing Chan webpage


Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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China at the crossroads: are the reformers winning the argument?

China has reached a crossroads. After years of political stability and enviable economic growth, the regime has been facing a stark choice about how the country should move forward. But two crucial recent political events have turned Chinese politics on its head, and are forcing it to decide whether to regress or reform.

Over the last year villagers in Wukan, in Guangdong province, rose up and ousted their corrupt local leaders after months of protest. Meanwhile, Bo Xilai, the Communist Party secretary in Chongqing, who used Maoist rhetoric and violence to push his vision of economic development, was ousted from his post in March.

In a new ECFR essay, ‘China at the crossroads’, François Godement argues that these two events signal that the Chinese government may be choosing the path of legal and political reform, promoting sustainable growth to reduce macroeconomic imbalances and overreliance on the dollar. François argues that:

  • With seven of the nine Politburo Standing Committee members due to be replaced this year, there has been a battle for influence with reformers warning that China is facing a ‘success trap’ of an economic and political model unsuited to the current stage of development, and capture by vested interests.
  • The Wukan uprising and Bo Xilai’s fall have been followed by a resurgence in debate about economic liberalisation and censorship of nationalist, populist and conservative websites and spokesmen.
  • Chinese economic policy began to change from the summer of 2011. Beijing has started to sell US Treasury holdings, cool inflation and slow down investment. Its trade surplus became a $31 billion monthly deficit in February 2012. These figures suggest the voice of reformers is gaining ground.

Click here for a PDF of ‘China at the crossroads’

Click here for a PDF of ‘China analysis: one or two Chinese models’ (2011) which examined the debate over Chinese economic development.

More information on the The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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China 2030. Building a modern, harmonious, and creative high-income society

A joint report from the World Bank and China’s Ministry of Finance -Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC) identifying and analyzing challenges looking forward to 20301

  • The report proposes six strategic directions for China’s new development strategy. First, rethinking the role of the state and the private sector to encourage increased competition in the economy. Second, encouraging innovation and adopting an open innovation system with links to global research and development networks. Third, looking to green development as a significant new growth opportunity. Fourth, promoting equality of opportunity and social protection for all. Fifth, strengthening the fiscal system and improving fiscal sustainability. Sixth, ensuring thatChina, as an international stakeholder, continues its integration with global markets.
  • Using the 12th Five Year Plan as a starting point, and the six strategic directions as a policy framework, the report lays out a time frame for and sequencing of reforms that can take China toward its vision for 2030.


  1. World Bank and DRC (2012) China 2030. Building a modern, harmonious, and creative high-income society, The World Bank and the Development Research Center of the State Council, the People’s Republic of China, Washington DC, (accessed 8 November 2012). []

Luis Balula

Ph.D. Urban Planning and Public Policy (Rutgers University, New Jersey); M.Sc. Urban Affairs (Boston University); Architect (Technical University of Lisbon). Urban and regional planning consultant. Research fellow at Instituto de Ciencias Sociais – Universidade de Lisboa.

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