Chien, Shiuh-Shen. (2013) Chinese eco-cities: a perspective of land-speculation-oriented local entrepreneurialism. China information, 27, pp 173-196.
This article aims to critically review the recent phenomenon of eco-cities in China which has captured the attention of the city authorities since the 2000s. At the time of writing, more than 200 eco-city projects have been proposed, are under construction, or have even been partly or fully implemented. Many of these eco-cities are not retro-fitted development plans in the downtown areas but are new large-scale land development projects on the outskirts of municipalities. The impetus behind the current Chinese ‘new-town-style’ eco-cities can be viewed as the third round of post-Mao land development isomorphism. The first – development zones – took place in the 1980s, and the second – college towns – started from the late 1990s. In the post-Mao context, Chinese local entrepreneurialism, which is characterized by (1) inter-scalar strategies to formally and informally pursue projects and (2) novel discourses that seek to legitimize projects, is actually motivated by land finance. Therefore, Chinese eco-cities driven by land-speculation-oriented local entrepreneurialism are very likely to be yet another manifestation of spatial development fervour, which contributes to further local extra-budgetary revenue and generates social conflict as opposed to sustainable development.
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