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China's Urban Transition

John Friedmann
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 196
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  • Book Info
    China's Urban Transition
    Book Description:

    It is only in the past quarter century that urbanization has emerged in China as a force of social transformation while a massive population shift from country to city has brought about a dramatic revolution in China's culture, politics, and economy. China's Urban Transition synthesizes research to provide the first integrated treatment of the processes that encompass the meaning of urbanization._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9749-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Introduction: Becoming Urban in China
    (pp. xiii-xxvi)

    At the start of the twentieth century, China launched upon an epic journey, whose trajectory remains incomplete, and whose ultimate outcome is imponderable. After a reign of 255 years, the foreign Manchu dynasty finally collapsed in 1911. The Manchu rulers had proven unable to deal successfully with the new political forces in the world, forces from which China was no longer exempt. The following year in Nanjing, Sun Yat-sen inaugurated the Republic.

    The next three decades are years of unimaginable turmoil as warlords struggle for regional dominance. Japanese armies invade China, set up a puppet state in Manchuria, and then,...

  5. 1. Historical Traces
    (pp. 1-18)

    According to Paul Wheatley, a geographer who explored the genesis of Chinese cities, the North China Plain was one of a limited number of regions where cities first developed (Wheatley 1971).¹ Archaeological records, primarily from excavations at Anyang in the lower Wei River valley, suggest that urban settlements first appeared during the late Shang dynasty, or about 1600 BCE, but more reliable information dates from about a thousand years later, during the period of small principalities known as the Western Zhou.

    The mosaic of settlements spread over the North China plain early in the Western Zhou comprised old Shang foundations...

  6. 2. Regional Policies
    (pp. 19-34)

    China’s urban system can be properly understood only in its regional context. This was one of William Skinner’s many brilliant insights into the history of urban China. He saw China as an archipelago whose regions were only loosely connected to each other. “Fairly early in my research on Chinese cities,” he writes,

    it became clear that in late imperial times [the regions] formed not a single integrated urban system but several regional systems, each one tenuously connected with its neighbours. In tracing out the overlapping hinterlands of the cities in each one of these regional systems, I came to the...

  7. 3. Urbanization of the Countryside
    (pp. 35-56)

    Perhaps the most dramatic (and surprising) story of China’s transformation during the past twenty-five years has been how significant portions of the country’s rural areas have become “urban” in the many meanings of this elusive term. Yu Zhu has referred to this process asin situurbanization (Zhu 1999). The story is usually told as the gradual abandonment of agriculture as a way of life in favor of work in rural industries, but a few scholars have attempted to relate all this to the more encompassing narrative of urbanization in China (Guldin 1997, 2001; Marton 2000).

    There is no question...

  8. 4. New Spatial Mobilities
    (pp. 57-76)

    Given the mostly hostile attitudes among urban residents toward migrants, and the government’s reluctance to let people freely choose where they would like to live and work, it is perhaps useful to remind ourselves that Chinese peasants are not naturally “rooted” in their villages, any more than agriculturalists elsewhere in the world. Nor have they only recently discovered that moving to cities is a way of improving their prospects in life. Historically, the Chinese are an enterprising, highly mobile people. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century large numbers of Chinese, especially from Guangdong and Fujian Provinces, emigrated to Southeast Asia, Australia,...

  9. 5. Expanding Spaces of Personal Autonomy
    (pp. 77-94)

    This chapter is about everyday life in China’s large cities. Its focus is on the life of those who are considered official residents—urbanhukouholders—thus bypassing the very different experiences of rural migrants in these cities, whose story was told in chapter 4. But even a highly selective account of everyday life cannot dispense with theoretical underpinnings. Personal autonomy is about the ability to make choices, from small ones, such as “Shall I go to the movies this evening or visit my mother who lives across town?” to major life-choices, such as whether to get married or divorced....

  10. 6. The Governance of City-Building
    (pp. 95-116)

    The governance of city-building is the political dimension of urbanization whose multiple meanings we are exploring in this book. Like the city itself, urban governance is not immutable, but is in a constant state of adaptation and change. As the structures and processes by which citizens are ruled in any given polity, governance may be judged as more or less effective, more or less corrupt, more or less just. In contrast with the other dimensions of urbanization, however, it cannot be discussed outside of a normative framework that is a model either of the “good city” or of good governance...

  11. Conclusion: Backward into the Future
    (pp. 117-130)

    The story I have tried to tell in the preceding chapters is ongoing. This final section of the book is therefore more a kind of stock-taking than a conclusion. What can we learn from the past that might help us understand what is happening in China today? I have touched on a variety of topics that pertain to certain facets of urbanization: new patterns of mobility, rural industrialization, everyday life, urban governance. Many other possible topics have been left out. Of these, perhaps the most important is “sustainability”—that is, the durability and robustness of China’s urban transition in ecological,...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 131-148)
  13. References
    (pp. 149-160)
  14. Index
    (pp. 161-168)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 169-169)