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On Shifting Foundations: State Rescaling, Policy Experimentation and Economic Restructuring in Post-1949 China



On Shifting Foundations: State Rescaling, Policy Experimentation and Economic Restructuring in Post-1949 China

Kean Fan Lim

ISBN: 978-1-119-34455-1 March 2019 256 Pages


This book introduces readers to the current social and economic state of China since its restructuring in 1949.

  • Provides insights into the targeted institutional change that is occurring simultaneously across the entire country
  • Presents context-rich accounts of how and why these changes connect to (if not contradict) regulatory logics established during the Mao-era
  • A new analytical framework that explicitly considers the relationship between state rescaling, policy experimentation, and path dependency
  • Prompts readers to think about how experimental initiatives reflect and contribute to the ‘national strategy’ of Chinese development
  • An excellent extension of ongoing theoretical work examining the entwinement of subnational regulatory reconfiguration, place-specific policy experimentation, and the reproduction of national economic advantage

Series Editor’s Preface viii

Acknowledgements ix

1 Introduction 1

Part I A Geographical–Historical Re‐appraisal 27

2 Chinese State Spatiality as a Complex Palimpsest 29

Part II Conceptual Parameters 63

3 State Rescaling, Policy Experimentation and Path‐dependency in post‐Mao China: A Dynamic Analytical Framework 65

Part III State Rescaling in the Pearl River Delta and Chongqing 83

4 Becoming ‘More Special than Special’ I: The Pressures and Opportunities for Change in Guangdong 85

5 Becoming ‘More Special than Special’ II: Hengqin and Qianhai New Areas as National Frontiers of Financial Reforms 112

6 State Rescaling in and Through Chongqing I: The State as Economic Driver 145

7 State Rescaling in and Through Chongqing II: The Politics of Path‐dependency 174

8 Concluding Reflections 196

References 209

Index 230

'In this foundational investigation, Kean Fan Lim shows how contemporary Chinese urbanization has been stimulated through new state policies designed to territorialize transnational capital investment. These rescaled state spaces have, he argues, figured centrally in the production of new forms of uneven development across the national territory. This systematically researched, lucidly argued book is an essential resource for anyone concerned to understand the contemporary urban condition, whether in China or elsewhere.'  
Neil Brenner, Professor of Urban Theory, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University

'Kean Fan Lim makes a breakthrough in existing studies of the Chinese political economy by astutely integrating a multi-scalar and historically grounded framework to illustrate the rationale and effects of economic restructuring in contemporary China. The empirical focus on the ‘nationally strategic new areas’ offers an important platform for understanding the regulatory challenges facing Chinese policymakers across different scales.'
Weidong Liu, Professor in Economic Geography, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences

'This book is the first systematic treatment of China’s state rescaling and an innovative application to the widespread ‘nationally strategic new areas’ in China. Kean Fan Lim should be congratulated for successfully tackling the concept of scale and state rescaling and for demonstrating their analytical power to understand China’s regional development.'
Fulong Wu, Bartlett Professor of Planning, The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London