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The characteristics of urban governance in China: Evidence from best practices in the Yangtze River Delta Region

Zitao Chen, Jiannan Wu and Acheng Zhang

Growth and Change, 2022, vol. 53, issue 4, 1834-1853

Abstract: Post‐reform China has experienced rapid urbanization and received much academic attention. However, few studies have focused on the overall characteristics of urban governance from both institutional and practical perspectives. This paper discusses the results of a content analysis of 79 cases collected during the first Awards for Best Urban Governance Practice in the Yangtze River Delta. This region is a pioneer of urban governance practice in China. The coding for the content analysis focused on four variables, including domains, actors, digitality, and duration, which were applied to the application forms for the award selection process. The statistical results demonstrate the characteristics of China’s urban governance practices. (1) The government continues to dominate in China’s urban governance, but the role of social organizations has become increasingly significant. (2) The content of China’s urban affairs has transformed from economic growth to citizen‐oriented issues of livelihoods and livability. (3) New technology and digitality of new opportunities are leading China’s urban governance transformation. (4) China’s urban governance practices are a durable process for adaptation accumulation of experiences. This paper presents the characteristics and distribution of China’s urban governance practices to lay the groundwork for future comparative urban studies.

Date: 2022
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