Tag Archives: urbanization

Urbanization, development, and China’s “land-lost”

Lian, Hongping and Raul P. Lejano (2014). Interpreting institutional fit: urbanization, development, and China’s “land-lost”World Development, 61, pp.1-10.

Urbanization-led development brings not just demographic, technological, and economic change, but profound institutional transition, as well. The scale and pace of China’s urbanization project have generated a crisis for millions living in rural–urban peripheries. We will utilize a model of institutional fit to conduct a critical analysis of China’s urbanization program and its implementation problems. Utilizing a semi-structured interview format, we analyze the experiences of the so-called “land-lost” residents in Changsha, China, vis-à-vis this ongoing institutional transition. The analysis provides a rich account of the myriad ways the transition to a privatized property market runs counter to the collective nature of peri-urban Chinese communities.

Read full text article on ScienceDirect (restricted access)

Monique Abud

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

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How urban housing demand can be met in China

Gottschalch, Sören (2013).  Urbanization in China and how urban housing demand can be met. Berlin : Institute for International Political Economy, 42 p. (Working Paper, 27).

As it has rightfully been recognized by China’s central government, successful urbanization will be decisive for the nation’s future development. Key challenges will be to realize urbanization economies, improve production and innovation capabilities, direct urban and suburban growth and improve a more equal distribution of benefits of economic growth to the population. This paper contributes to the discussion with illuminating the main drivers of urbanization: (i) migration and (ii) in situ urbanization, and the housing necessities for migrants that evolve from them. It attempts to support the establishment of an integrated and sustainable urbanization path by considering migrants urban housing demand in China’s socio economic transitional environment and indicating proper match. Migrant’s housing choices are driven by underlying priorities determined by their characteristics and their exposure to the immediate socio economic environment. Therefore, both, migrant’s characteristics as well as their immediate socio economic environment are put in relation to urban growth and its spatial features. The result is a set of housing supply forms and a set of distinctive migrant housing demands. Urban housing outcome and the match of housing supply and demand reveals housing preferences and housing market constraints. Based on these findings further housing recommendations can be given.

Read full text on EconStor (accessed 19 December 2013)

Monique Abud

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

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Financial circuits and urban production in the global south (2)

The Centre d’Etudes Français de la Chine contemporaine (French Centre for Research on Contemporary China) (CEFC), the Laboratoire Techniques Territoires Sociétés (LATTS), the research unit Géographie-cités and the Réseau Asie-Pacifique (Asia & Pacific Network) are pleased to invite you to the ANR Finurbasie’s second workshop dedicated to the theme: Financial circuits and urbanisation in the global south (2).


Tuesday, Novembre 5, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Réseau Asie, Bâtiment Le France
Floor 6 (A elevators), plateau CNRS, Room 638
190 avenue de France, 75013 Paris


  •  10 a.m. – Welcome and introduction of the ANR Finurbasie project: Natacha Aveline (Géographie-cités, CEFC) and Ludovic Halbert (LATTS)

Morning: Middle East and North Africa

session in French chaired by Aurélie Varrel (CEIAS)
  •  10:30 a.m. – Burcu Ozdirlik (Lab’Urba): The structuring of the Turkish real estate industry and the new financial networks: the case of Istanbul’s new business centre. Discussion: Eric Denis (Géographie-cités)
  •  11:30 a.m. – Pierre-Arnaud Barthel (LATTS-IFU) and Leila Vignal (ESO-Université de Rennes 2): Big urban projects after the “Arab Spring” (2011): business as usual or signs of a rift in the political economy of these city areas? Discussion: Eric Denis (Géographie-cités)
  • 12:30 p.m. – Lunch buffet

Afternoon: Hong Kong and China

session in English chaired by Ludovic Halbert (LATTS)
  • 13:30 p.m. – Natacha Aveline (Géographie-cités, CEFC): Spatial and social impact of capital liquidity in real estate – the experience of the Hong Kong REITs. Discussion: Thierry Theurillat (Université de Neuchâtel)
  • 14:30 p.m. – Thomas Vendryes (ENS Cachan, Centre d’Economie de la Sorbonne): Real estate investments and land rights in rural China. Discussion: Thierry Theurillat (Université de Neuchâtel)
  • 15:30 p.m. – Coffee break
  • 16 p.m. – Manuel Aalbers (Université de Leuven): Presentation of the research project (ERC starting grant) on Hong Kong and Chine: The Real Estate / Financial Complex. Discussion: Thierry Theurillat (Université de Neuchâtel)

Entry is free and open to all, but registration is required. Please contact: hortense.rouanet@enpc.fr

For the full programme PDF go here.

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l'UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

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China by night, now and then (2010-1992)


China's urban lights

China‘s urbanization by night, by courtesy of the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (http://www.noaa.gov/).


Both photos reflect the rapid urbanisation that has taken place in China in the last two decades. The photo taken in 2010 clearly shows the three main urbanised areas: the Bohai rim, the Yangzte delta, and the Pearl river delta. Chengdu and Chongqing have also undergone rapid urbanisation, as does Xi’an. Urumqi is the only discernible urban area West of Lanzhou.

For a time jump from 1992 to 2010 click on the link below:




Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Urbanization in Western China

Anwaer Maimaitiming, Zhang Xiaolei, Cao Huhua (2013), Urbanization in Western China, Chinese Journal of Population Resources and Environment Volume 11, Issue 1, 2013, p. 79-86.  DOI: 10.1080/10042857.2013.777197


China has experienced considerable urbanization in the past 60 years, especially since the implementation of the Economic Reform and Opening-up Policy in 1978. In 1949, there were only 132 cities with an urban population of 27.4 million, while in 2008 China had 652 cities with a total urban population of 606 million. Such urbanization is attributed to the boost in the number of cities and the urban population. Urban expansion enhanced geographic inequality between the three major regions in China. Compared with the eastern and central regions, western China only has 19% of the total cities and 18% of the urban population. The urbanization rate was 37.2% for the western region in 2008, while it reached 53.3% for the eastern regions and 45.3% for central China. Using a geographic information system (GIS) and statistical analyses, this study aims at explaining the structure and spatial development of urbanization, and highlighting the current issues of urban inequality in western China during the past two decades. The paper drew following conclusions: (1) Urbanization disparities between eastern and western China have become increasingly obvious, but seem to be evolving slowly since the establishment of the government’s Western Development Priority Policy in 2000. (2) Cities of various sizes were expanded in western China, and the main factors affecting the urbanization are population numbers and density, government investment and geographic conditions. (3) Current patterns of urbanization in the western region are distributed unevenly between provinces.

Jacqueline Nivard

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

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China’s Great Uprooting: Moving 250 Million Into Cities

“It’s almost like another Great Leap Forward,” says Gao Yu, China country director for the Landesa Rural Development Institute, in Seattle. Unsustainable urbanization practices—such as current large-scale programs to move farmers into apartments in towers with often generous but short term compensation—must be urgently addressed by Chinese leadership. The Chinese government has been pledging a comprehensive urbanization plan for more than two years now. The plan—which is supposed to include provisions that will give ex-farmers a permanent stream of income from the land they lost, among other measures—was scheduled for presentation at the National People’s Congress last March, but various concerns have delayed a full disclosure. Its formal presentation is now scheduled for the fall.


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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Gentrification in Peking and Paris (I)


“We sense that it is to no purpose to regret the old Paris now, the historical and thinking Paris, whose last exhalations we are now witnessing; the artistic and philosophical Paris (…) where there were once groups, neighbours, neighbourhoods, traditions; where expropriations did not constantly trouble old relationships and the most cherished habits, where the artisan, who is now barred from the city centre by a merciless system, used to live next to the financier (…) Our eyes are full of tears, crying for this old Paris, especially when we see the intolerable “hotellerie”, the expensive confusion, the triumphant vulgarity, the terrible materialism that we are to bequeath to our nephews (…)”

This is an extract from one of the articles written by the journalist Jules Ferry in “Les comptes fantastiques d’Haussmann”. He denounces the colossal work to renovate Paris that was undertaken by Baron Haussmann during his 17 years as prefect of the city (1853-1870). The rebuilding of the city continued well after the end of the Second Empire under the direction of Haussmann’s collaborators, as Haussmann himself was dismissed following the severe criticism he received from his contemporaries. This renovation of Paris was probably the most dramatic of all the transformations the city has undergone to date. Paris had hardly changed for almost three centuries. Modernization brought gas lighting, wide avenues, clean water, modern sewage treatment, trees, public parks, fountains, hospitals, to name but a few changes.

After reading this extract one cannot help but reflect on the disadvantages of the phenomenal transformations that Chinese cities have undergone during the last two decades, in particular the capital, Beijing. In terms that remind us of July Ferry, some of the residents who lived in the thousands of hutong that were once the heartbeat of the city, and are now disappearing, lament their displacement from their inner-city neighbourhoods: “Nowadays, people say that high-level cadres live around the second ring road, while paupers live around the sixth ring road (…).1 It has been calculated that by 2007, approximately 1.5 million Beijing residents had been relocated to suburban areas as a consequence of the rebuilding of the city.2 Many officials are offering words of warning regarding the destruction of the historic architectural heritage: “The traditional streets and ancient buildings are disappearing under the bulldozer”.3 Likewise, the NGO Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center is working to raise awareness and help protect the cultural heritage (http://en.bjchp.org).

Hutongs (Drum and Bell tower neighbourhood), Elosua Miguel

This zoning of social classes or sociospatial reorganization as a result of urban redevelopment is a common feature in both the case of 19th century Paris and modern Beijing. Insufficient compensation prevents residents from staying in central Beijing. Gated compounds where non-residents are excluded likewise proliferate downtown. In Paris, rising rents also drove workers out of the city. It has been said that Haussmann wanted to place populations that were likely to revolt in areas outside of Paris (the city had a turbulent history of revolts, the last one just a few years before the renovations began). The working classes were forced to move to areas ignored by the renovation work. In Beijing, on the contrary, displaced residents have generally seen their housing quality improved, because they have usually moved into newly-built residences which, although far from the city centre, are modern and comfortable.

Obviously, there is also much dissimilarity in the urbanization of 19th century Paris and that of Beijing. In particular, Beijing’s rate of urbanization was only 20% in 1986. It had an urban population of less than one million at that time. Rural counties that served as its food basket made up the greatest part of the city area.4 Paris renovation works, on the other hand, were mainly carried out in the heart of the city. The city’s expansion has always been restrained by its enclosures; it has pushed out beyond only six enclosures in eight centuries, all the while maintaining its circular shape.5

(The second part of the article will be published next Friday)

  1. Hyun Bang Shin (2008) Residential redevelopment and social impacts in Beijing, Wu Fulong, (ed.) China’s emerging cities: the making of new urbanism. Routledge contemporary China series. London, UK []
  2. Campanella, Thomas (2008) The Concrete Dragon. Princeton Architectural Press []
  3. Shan Jixiang, director of China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Xinhua News Agency. June 2, 2006 []
  4. Victor F. S. Sit (2009) Chinese City and Urbanism, Evolution and Development, World Scientific []
  5. Eric Hazan (2002), L’invention de Paris, Editions du Seuil, Paris []

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Urbanization: a tool to reduce inequality?

China’s new populist urbanization

Since Li Keqiang was tipped to succeed Wen Jiabao as China’s premier, analysts have been trying to come to a better understanding of Li’s thoughts on urbanization. This is because Li has prominently identified urbanization as the growth engine of the Chinese economy and one of the main focuses on the new administration.

Li’s first press conference as premier this past weekend helped shed a bit of light on what urbanization (城镇化) might mean in terms of policy. Premier Li’s description of urbanization focused on the issue of inequality, both between poor and rich within cities and the urban and rural areas across China. The solution, according to Premier Li, is to better integrate migrant workers into cities and to spread urbanization out into the smaller cities and less developed regions of the country. This activity will generate significant new investment opportunities and raise domestic consumption levels helping to rebalance the Chinese economy.

This represents a profoundly populist spin on urbanization, which has historically been one of the primary drivers of inequality in China. Read more

Will municipal bonds save China’s urbanization plan?

Increasingly China’s new leadership has revitalized the topic of urbanization. Last November, the vice-premier, Li Keqiang, wrote an article calling urbanization a “huge engine” for future economic growth. More recently, the newly released income inequality plan has even described urbanization as a tool to reduce income inequality.

This renewed emphasis on urbanization appears to have re-opened the topic of financing local infrastructure projects. In the fourth quarter 2012 monetary policy report released earlier this month, the Peoples Bank of China (PBC) wrote an exhibit entitled “the international experience of financing construction for urbanization.” In this exhibit, the Peoples Bank observed a strong correlation between urbanization and municipal bonds across countries from the 1950s to today. They found that the use of municipal bonds backed by tax revenues was the most effective tool for supporting urbanization “no matter whether you have a federal or centralized system of government.” Read more



Monique Abud

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

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Working together to promote urbanization cooperation and sustainable development

n recent years, the steady momentum on China-EU relations has sustained strong growth in practical cooperation across all sectors on both sides. For China-EU relations, the current international economic situation and our respective development strategy mean both opportunities and challenges. To leverage strength from the international environment and to better meet the challenges, China and Europe must explore new grounds to achieve growth. Based on this principle, at the beginning of this year, the two sides have reached an important agreement to prioritize urbanization and sustainable development in our cooperation and have moved further to establish urbanization partnership between China and the EU.


Monique Abud

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

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