Territorial urbanization and the party-state in China

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Journal Article
Territory, Politics, Governance, 2015, 3 (3), pp. 294 - 320
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© 2015 Regional Studies Association. This article develops the concept of territorial urbanization in China through the historical conditions and research design problems of the Chinese administrative divisions in relation to comparative territorial thought. Subnational territories are not constitutionally guaranteed in China and the state maintains powers to establish new cities and enlarge and merge existing ones, and even eliminate others, with significant implications for geographically targeted economic development and governing powers. These territorial strategies, which administer urban expansion, rationalize government administration, and organize capital investment through continuing economic growth, are negotiated within the political system of the Chinese party-state and decided through non-transparent processes by the Chinese central government. Yet literature on urbanization in China often subsumes party-state territorialization practices under internationally recognizable epistemologies such as urban and regional planning and simplifies and contains their urban-economic transformations to fixed spaces in zone development. This analysis examines cities within the system of administrative divisions and pursues the question of the reproduction of state power through territorial urbanization in the Shanghai Pudong New Area, where a territorial merger doubled its size and central government policy imagines the future of China’s international financial centre.
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