We are organising a series of events including workshops, seminars and conferences to gather thoughts, inspire research and disseminate outputs.
Online seminar 09/03/2022  Learning from abroad and changing urban renewal policies in China–Some lessons from the case of Yangzhou

On 9th March 2022, the ChinaUrban project hosted an online seminar to discuss policy mobility in urban renewal in China. Dr Giulia C. Romano was invited to present her work based on study in Yangzhou. Prof. Claire Colomb then made comments. The event attracted around 35 participants.

Dr Giulia’s talk
Dr Giulia’s talk
Prof. Claire made comments

Dr Giulia started with the literature about policy transfer studies. She aimed to examine whether policy transfer and policy learning take different features in another type of regime, such as China, compared to that in Western studies. In terms of empirical study, she conducted longitudinal study and an in-depth inquiry of policy learning in Yangzhou. There were two research questions. First, what happens when ideas and knowledge in urban renewal/ spatial planning developed in Europe are transferred to China? Second, how do local administrations concretely use this knowledge? The first was a classic question of policy transfer, while the second required a micro analysis on local operations. 

She continued her talk with the context of the redevelopment of Yangzhou. Yangzhou aimed to change the function of the old city to promote the commercial function rather than considering the needs of the residents. This situation is similar to other Chinese cities. The German corporation called GTZ proposed a careful urban renewal plan which was one part of the city redevelopment. However, at the end of this corporation project (with GTZ) in 2007, it was not possible to expect a successful policy transfer. In 2010, there was a window for policy learning when the “Old City Office” was set up by the local government. Its foundation was still the strategies proposed by GTZAfter 2013, the Old City Office became a weak organization. In 2015, the new Mayor had different ideas about redevelopment and new plans were carried out. Later, however, the mayor’s projects were halted, and new window for policy learning opened. 

Dr Giulia concluded by discussing the Chinese characteristics of policy transfers. She first argued that the policy learning process in Yangzhou reflected a hybrid and mixing form. Her main argument was that there was no support to a “Chinese style of policy transfer”. The outcome of policy transfers not only depend on the willing of local officials but also their capacity. 

Prof. Claire commented on Dr Giulia’s work. She pointed out that this research engaged with two strands of literature, including policy tranfer and urban polictics (governance). She recommended the book by Dr Giulia and found that the long-term observation of policy mobility was exceptional. The work by Dr Giulia contributed not just to China studies but to a broader body of literature. 

In the Q&A session, Dr Giulia answered questions from the audience. The discussion was mainly about the concret processes of policy learning, the role of mayors and the obstacles of fieldwork.