This paper addresses urbanization in the context of China's efforts to meet its commitments regarding the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This paper focuses specifically on governmental policies to promote polycentricity, with multiple urban centers of a similar scale within metropolitan areas, rather than a traditional single, dominant central business district. Polycentric urban forms have the potential to reduce average commuting times, thereby impacting greenhouse gas emissions. Polycentricity may also enhance access to employment and other opportunities for marginalized households. To this end, we examine the nexus between emerging polycentric urbanization patterns in Chinese cities and modes of governance at the national and local levels. Changsha, in Hunan province, is selected as a case study to illuminate the issues. Our analysis shows that fiscal considerations and other national and local governance imperatives can play a crucial role in determining how urbanization evolves. While China is unique in many ways, there are also important commonalities with other countries in the global South that are experiencing rapid urbanization, so the insights generated here may be more broadly applicable.
- Fiscal considerations and other national and local governance imperatives play a crucial role in determining how urbanization evolves.
- The fundamental economic drivers of urbanization manifest themselves in China much the same as anywhere else, which can result in the dissipation of economic rents accruing from the scarcity value of urban land.
- China's unique governance system does provide significant capacity for staunching the economic rent dissipation with equalitarianism principle, which is embodied as: (i) tight regulation of intra-urban competition by higher-level governments; (ii) regular auditing of preferential treatments to prevent monopolization; and (iii) diversified resource endowment for location decisions.
Photo by zhang kaiyv