Rethinking China’s urban governance
This project aims to rethink China’s model of urban governance beyond the characterisation of neoliberal urbanism or state authoritarianism and to provide a nuanced understanding of the role of the state in the dynamic relation of state–market–society in its governance through neighbourhood, urban and regional levels and multi-site examinations, and to assess the implications for urban theory and policies.

The Bartlett Planning Podcast: Rethinking China’s Urban Governance

In March 2022, Professor Yvonne speaks with Professor Fulong Wu about his research on urban development in China and, in particular, his new paper with Fangzhu Zhang ‘Rethinking China’s urban governance: The role of the state in neighbourhoods, cities and regions’. Listen to the podcast via

In November 2022, Yvonne speaks with Dr. Weikai Wang. Weikai explains his research into how China can tackle the urgent environmental, social and political problem of air pollution. Listen to the podcast via

In January 2023, Yvonne speaks with Dr. Ying Wang. Ying explains her research into community participation and self-governance in Chinese neighbourhoods. Listen to the podcast via

Online event 08/12/22– The Making of “New citizens”: Landless Farmers and Urban Governance in China
Prof. Tang’s talk

On 8th December 2022, the ChinaUrban project hosted an online seminar to discuss landless farmers in China. Professor Beibei Tang was invited to present her research work entitled “The Making of “New citizens”: Landless Farmers and Urban Governance in China”. The event attracted 21 participants.

More about this event

Previous events

RSA winter conference 10/11/2022-11/11/2022
Group photo

The ChinaUrban group members attended the RSA winter conference (10/11/2022-11/11/2022) in London. Two special sessions about “metropolitan governance in a post-pandemic era” were organised; six group members gave presentations at the conference.

Speakers: Dr. Fangzhu Zhang, Dr. Weikai Wang, Dr. Ying Wang, Zhenfa Li, Yi Feng, Kan Zhu

More info about this event

New book– Creating Chinese Urbanism

Creating Chinese Urbanism: Urban revolution and governance changes by Fulong Wu

Creating Chinese Urbanism describes the landscape of urbanisation in China, revealing the profound impacts of marketisation on Chinese society and the consequential governance changes at the grassroots level.

Besides witnessing the breaking down of socially integrated neighbourhoods, Fulong Wu explains the urban roots of a rising state in China. Instead of governing through autonomous stakeholders, state-sponsored strategic intentions remain. In the urban realm, the desire for greater residential privacy does not foster collectivism. State-led rebuilding of residential communities has sped up the demise of traditionalism and given birth to a new China with greater urbanism and state-centred governance.

Taking the vantage point of concrete residential neighbourhoods, Creating Chinese Urbanism offers a cutting-edge analysis of how China is becoming urban and grounds the changing state governance in the process of urbanization. Its original and material interpretation of the changing role of the state in China makes it suitable reading for researchers and students in the fields of urban studies, geography, planning and the built environment.

Research publications

Fulong Wu and Fangzhu Zhang (2021) Rethinking China’s urban governance: The role of the state in neighbourhoods, cities and regions. Progress in Human Geography

Abstract: Following the notion of the entrepreneurial city, this paper examines recent scholarship about China’s urban governance. Despite prevailing marketisation, the role of the state is visible in neighbourhood, cities and city-regions. The state necessarily deals with a fast changing society and deploys market-like instruments to achieve its development objectives. Through multi-scalar governance, the state involves social and market actors but at the same time maintains strategic intervention capacity. China’s contextualised scholarship provides a more nuanced understanding beyond the entrepreneurial city thesis, which is more state-centred.


A reading report in Chinese

Call for papers – Special issue in Transactions in Planning and Urban Research
Metropolitan development and city-regional governance in China

Guest editors: Fulong Wu, Fangzhu Zhang, Weikai Wang

Recently, China has seen a new wave of mega-city region development (Yeh et al, 2021). The development of major mega-city regions such as the Greater Bay Area of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau will reconfigure China’s political economic landscape. The role of the state in regional governance is a salient feature (Wu and Zhang, 2022). The Chinese city-regionalism represents the state’s effort to remedy the crisis of urban entrepreneurialism at the regional scale and advance national development strategies. Facing uncertainties in globalization, changing geopolitics, and new smart technologies in the post-pandemic era, what is the current trend of city-regional governance? This special issue calls for an investigation of diverse development practices at the metropolitan and mega-city region scales and various governance aspects. We particularly welcome ‘grounded’ interpretation of Chinese urban development and regional governance (Zhang et al, 2022). 

More information


This research project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 832845, 2020-2024). It is based in China Planning Research Group at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. 

Subscribe our events via