Institutional innovation of urban regeneration in China: a comparative study of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shanghai

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China`s 30 years` urbanization progress and economic growth is complicatedly interweaved with land developing policy changes featured by distinctive state-led governance (Tian, Ma, 2009). Land is not only a simple container of production for growth, but also one of the most effective financing approaches for the governments with monopolistic power to get money and fund urban development (Fan et al., 2016; He et al., 2014; Figure 1). Accompanied by the worldwide greatest population mobility from rural to cities (247 million in 2015) and the rapidest urbanization growth from 26.9% to 52.7% (Figure 2), the years from 1991 to 2012 has witnessed increasingly land expansion from 2.08×104 km2 to 4.57×104 km2, which is criticized as “expanding land urbanization ignoring quality”. (Wang et al., 2014; Yang et al., 2016; Ong, 2014; China's floating population report 2016). This economic miracle based on land developing is exciting, quite similar to European reconstruction booming up after WWII and the urbanization marvels in other East Asian countries (World bank, 2014). However, many studies have criticized it for “draining the pond to catch the fish”, consuming too much land and creating widely distributed ghost cities. From a more profound perspective, it undermined problems such as vast public finance debt and barriers for economic shift from industry to services; the entire national economy seems “kidnapped” by the real estate market (Cai, 2017; Zhu, 2013). In response to this situation, China has been forced to revise its spatial strategies, veering towards a quality-oriented urban regeneration featured by lower growth rate, high emphasis on sustainability and formalization of institutional arrangements. In this new phase featured by the “new normal” economy, urban planning embodies a focus on structural change from expansion planning to regeneration planning by limiting horizontal urban sprawl and improving environment sustainability.
Book of proceedings : Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon 11-14th July 2017