Hong Kong Baptist UniversityDecember 2007 Urban China amid Globalization: Spatial Restructuring in Guangzhou in Comparative Perspective Lachang LU, Guangzhou University Linda McCARTHY, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Theoretical/methodological issues • Large-scale processes of change associated with globalization impacting urban areas in LDCs & DCs • Break from traditional monocentric spatial patterns captured by new terms for evolving decentralized multicentric configurations, e.g. ‘urban realms’ in US (Vance 1990), ‘polycentric urban development’ in China (Wu 1998) • Negative reaction to ‘convergence thesis’ (neglect for importance of local in mediating global) → pendulum swinging perhaps too far in other direction → focus on Chinese cities as distinct/uniqueness of Chinese urban processes & spatial outcomes
Argue against ‘throwing out baby w/bathwater.’ Not arguing for convergence on universal or US or Los Angeles model. Ma & Wu (2005) critiqued Dick & Rimmer (1998): SE Asian cities converging on W. cities based on selective elements—shopping malls, gated communities, etc.—superficially similar to US, while ignoring common LDC elements, e.g., squatter settlements, large informal economy • Agree with Dick & Rimmer: paradigm emphasizing uniqueness of LDC cities & disallowing similarities with DCs is problematical. Agree with Marcuse & van Kempen (2000): despite diversity in spatial patterns produced by globalization processes, common tendencies that form similar patterns
Increasing pervasiveness of globalization processes comparative international perspective may be helpful international similarities incorporated into theorizations of urban change/better appreciation of impacts of globalization; policy implications/learn from experience; (Dear & Flusty 1998; Denters & Mossberger 2006; Keating 1998) • Importance of local context in mediating global forces finding shared problems ≠ shared capacities to address
Universal (country to country urban analysis) too general; Unique (city to city analysis) allows real world comparison • Guangzhou vs. Los Angeles: fast-growth; sprawl; large metro. pop; near top urban hierarchy, not capital; economic structure: balance of commerce & industry. US: ‘the’ model of capitalist growth & policy imitation • Metropolitan scale facilitates urban/policy analysis within single politically-integrated planning environment
Theoretical framework • Chinese cities as a separate ‘transitional’ group? post-1978 reforms not surprising: conceptualizations as ‘transitional.’ But problematical re. ‘convergence thesis’ & all cities in constant transition (Wu 2003); prefer ‘globalizing cities’ (Marcuse & van Kempen 2000); globally dispersed net of megalopoles in a single integrated urban system (Dear & Flusty 1998) • Global-local interplay External/global e.g. FDI, & internal/local e.g. domestic investment; local government economic dev. despite strong control of state; • Operationalizing globalization Political; economic; cultural; environmental
Guangzhou’s changing metropolitan structure • Real world example to situate discussion • Since 1978, change from ‘single core’ socialist ‘production’ city
1. Initial opening up: Single core w/planned leapfrog development, 1978-87 • Single core: commercial • 1984: Guangzhou Economic & Technology Dev. District (GETDD): FDI in industry 1984
2. Toward a Modernized International Center: Dual core, 1987-2000 • 1985: Tianhe development • 1987: new land leasing system • urban sprawl
3. Growing International Conurbation: Multi-core network, 2000-present • 2002: GETDD & 3 other dev. zones → ‘4 Zone Union’: Guangzhou Dev. District (GDD); 2005: Luogang urban district • 1993: Nansha Econ. & Tech. Dev. District (NETDD); 2005: Nansha urban district • Guangzhou University Town; Internat. Bio-island; Internat. Convention & Exhibition Center • 2000: Huadu urban district
Urban processes & spatial outcomes amid globalization • Theoretical framework & 3-stage Guangzhou model → distinctive features of Chinese urban processes & outcomes; & any emerging similarities
Political processes & spatial restructuring • Institutional restructuring in China & US = ‘globalization of neoliberal project’ & entrepreneurial local gov. (Peck & Tickell 2002); ‘roll back,’ ‘roll out’ in US vs. proactive support in China; political fragmentation; but national power centered on Communist Party; goal & location of dev. zones in China ≠ EZs in US
Economic processes & spatial restructuring • Domestic ‘self-raised funds’ & FDI; decentralization from single core/selective urban renewal; Guangzhou University Town, etc. corresponds with 1 of Hall’s (2001) common nodes in polycentric metropolis specializing in education, exhibition & convention centers, etc. (but stronger hand of higher tiers of gov.); buthistoric core retained its economic dominance (so far); FDI → commercial/historic core vs. industry/dev. zones; agriculture → industry & services
Cultural processes & spatial restructuring • Increasing consumerism; growing middle class; economic, social, spatial/residential polarization w/luxury apartments, gated W-style housing, gentrification; rural-to-urban migration; but limited involvement in planning by civil society (Lin 2007)
The environment & spatial restructuring • Pollution with industrialization; pollution with rising wealth/car ownership/freeways & longer commutes; concern: pollution & environmental degradation negatively affecting economic growth, but so far economic growth favored; but outside pressure from international community to curb pollution re. global warming; ‘Kuznets curve’?
Theoretical & policy implications • From theoretical perspective, not considering Chinese cities as ‘transitional,’ allowed comparative differences but also any similarities to be examined • Deliberately did not look for convergence on US model, & did not find it • While need to be careful using W. theories for understanding Chinese cities, may be helpful to consider models of L.A. re. informing conceptualizations of urban spatial restructuring in China
Vance (1990) ‘urban realms’ model: realms function semi-independently; Guangzhou’s spatial pattern showing nascent tendency for different cores to function semi-independently, esp. former GDD (Luogang) & former NETDD (Nansha)? Dear & Flusty (1998) model of postmodern urban structure: global-local interplay & social polarization reflected in Guangzhou; but not reterritorialization of urban space with hinterland organizing center; urbanization not occurring ‘on quasi-random field of opportunities’
From a policy perspective, some similarities (while not identical) have implications, including learning from experience. • Politically, possibility of raising broader questions, including validity of neoliberal project’s focus on city competitiveness, with worker exploitation; drawbacks of trend toward political fragmentation, & alternatives in US e.g. competitive regionalism • Economically, new elements on Chinese urban landscape, e.g. sprawl, have drawbacks that policy analysts in US have been grappling with longer • Culturally, increasing social polarization & residential segregation also longer-term issues in US • Environmentally, degradation with rapid urban development an issue since Ind. Rev.
Concluding comments • Further comparative analysis may be helpful in identifying & attempting to understand any similarities as well as differences in processes & outcomes amid globalization in China compared to other parts of world, including US. • Important from a policy perspective to investigate in greater detail both theoretically & empirically extent to which any similarities are result of different processes, policies, contexts, & any differences are produced by similar ones—both intended & unintended
Acknowledgments • Support from China’s Natural Science Foundation (40571049/D0107) & Social Science Foundation (05BJL042) • Wang JianJun for his research assistance • Professors Ya Ping Wang & Yeu-man Yeung for helpful comments on earlier version of presentation
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