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Urban China

Urban China

Xuefei Ren

ISBN: 978-0-745-65359-4

Apr 2013, Polity

218 pages

In Stock



Currently there are more than 125 Chinese cities with a population exceeding one million. The unprecedented urban growth in China presents a crucial development for studies on globalization and urban transformation. This concise and engaging book examines the past trajectories, present conditions, and future prospects of Chinese urbanization, by investigating five key themes - governance, migration, landscape, inequality, and cultural economy.

Based on a comprehensive evaluation of the literature and original research materials, Ren offers a critical account of the Chinese urban condition after the first decade of the twenty-first century. She argues that the urban-rural dichotomy that was artificially constructed under socialism is no longer a meaningful lens for analyses and that Chinese cities have become strategic sites for reassembling citizenship rights for both urban residents and rural migrants.

The book is essential reading for students and scholars of urban and development studies with a focus on China, and all interested in understanding the relationship between state, capitalism, and urbanization in the global context.

Figures and Tables viii

Map ix

Chronology x

Preface xiii

1 China Urbanized 1

2 Governance 32

3 Landscape 86

4 Migration 116

5 Inequality 145

6 Cultural Economy 170

Conclusion 191

Notes 197

Bibliography 203

Index 215

"A must-read book for those who want a critical and multifaceted examination of Chinese urbanization. The author is clearly at home in China and shares insights we rarely read about."
Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, author of Cities in a World Economy 2012

"A significant contribution to introducing the process of China’s urbanization."
The China Journal

"The world is fascinated by the fundamental changes in China's cities and how they link to larger projects of national development and globalization. Few scholars have examined these questions with such a broad-ranging focus as Xuefei Ren does here, offering new insight into growing inequality, how shifting landscapes are transforming lives, and the implications of these dynamics for citizen protest, human rights, and new cultural practices."
Diane E. Davis, Harvard University

"By far the most comprehensive account of the changing Chinese urban society. Ren's critical reading of the current urban China research begins to reveal a new horizon of urban studies in a non-Western context – sweeping through specific configurations of hukou and 'villages in the city' to more general changes in social and spatial inequalities."
Fulong Wu, University College London
  • With 125 cities of over one million inhabitants, China’s urban growth is a crucial case study for understanding urbanization today
  • Examines urbanization in China through 5 key themes: governance, migration, landscape, inequality, and cultural economy
  • Investigates the causes and consequences of China’s rapid urban transformation, at both a national and global level
  • Part of Polity’s new ‘China Today’ series, a landmark series examining key social, political, economic and cultural issues of China’s place in today’s world