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.

Forthcoming 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.

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

Introducing: Transactions in Planning and Urban Research

Editors-in Chief: Fangzhu Zhang & Zhigang Li

Transactions in Planning and Urban Research is a platform for diverse new inquiries and dialogues on the urban and regional development and planning processes in China.

Online first

As a research field, ‘Urban China’ is growing rapidly and is one of the most active, dynamic, and well-connected. The research field is situated at the conjuncture of China Studies which comes from the tradition of area studies. It is oriented towards historical, cultural, and political contexts and Urban Studies which treats Chinese urbanisation as part of political, economic, environmental, and social-cultural changes of the (de-)globalising world. Whilst both research traditions have contributed greatly towards a better understanding of urban China, we felt that there is a need for a journal that can bridge the two and treat Chinese urbanisation in a holistic, reflexive, grounded way without being confined to historical and cultural specificities. As such, it is time to introduce a journal that pays particular attention to recent developments in China and their policy implications, while situating this research in comparative perspectives within wider urban processes.

Full editorial

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

The Bartlett Planning Podcast: Rethinking China’s Urban Governance

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

March 2022


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. 

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