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Urban functional transformation in (de)industrializing China: The heterogeneous roles of state and market

Guangzhong Cao, Rongxi Peng and Tao Liu

Growth and Change, 2022, vol. 53, issue 4, 1813-1833

Abstract: China has experienced great economic transition and structural changes since reform and opening‐up, accompanying an unprecedented urban transformation under dramatic (de)industrialization. Previous studies have addressed the roles of state and market and their interaction in (de)industrialization and urban transformation of post‐reform China. However, few studies have given attention to the huge variations across regions and cities in their (de)industrialization stages, their main functions in urban systems of the country, and the critical issues facing them. This study examines the transformation process of different types of cities by employing the perspective of urban function evolution. Specifically, we analyze the spatial pattern of urban functional structure of China and its evolutionary features based on census employment data. Then, we focus on three major concerns of urban transformation in China, namely the multi‐stage and spatial gradient of (de)industrialization, the hierarchy and dynamics of central cities, and the transformation of resource‐dependent cities. Results indicate that the synergy of state and market forces promotes urban transformation in China and that their relative importance and mode of action vary across cities in different regions, stages, and functions. This research highlights an urban functional scope to understand the constant urban transformations in developing countries.

Date: 2022
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