Sino-capitalist urbanization

This paper draws on Christopher McNally’s (2012) concept of ‘Sino-capitalism’ to analyse the complex set of forces that have shaped China’s urbanisation experience to date, as a prelude to understanding the challenges facing the central government as it embarks on its ‘National New-type Urbanisation Plan’ for 2014-2020, which places urbanisation at the centre of China’s modernisation drive and its ongoing efforts to rebalance the economy towards domestic demand. It is clear that some aspects of China’s urbanisation process have been ‘top down and state led’, as reflected in the central government’s (partial) control over rural-to-urban population movements via the hukou system of household registration and its (partial) control over urban land expansion via state ownership of all urban land â€" two topics that receive much attention in the new (top-down) Plan itself. Meanwhile, some aspects of the process have been ‘bottom up and market led’, as in the rapidly industrialising and urbanising province of Zhejiang, where private entrepreneurialism has been the dominant source of industrial clustering at the village- and town-levels, many of these areas becoming urban as a result. Most of China’s urbanisation process, however, has been underpinned by diverse and complex interactions between local governments with private entrepreneurs, government-connected and foreign-funded enterprises, and local and migrant workers. These interactions have furthermore exhibited substantial regional variations, as seen in Chung and Unger’s (2013) ‘Guangdong model of urbanisation’ and ‘Coordinated urban-rural development planning’ in Chengdu (Ye, LeGates and Qin, 2013). Above all else, this paper emphasises the fact that China’s urbanization process in the decades ahead, as in the decades passed, will not be determined by market forces alone.

About the Speaker

Jane Golley is an Associate Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU. After studying economics and Japanese at the ANU, she joined the Asia Section of the Australian Commonwealth Treasury, before spending eight years in Oxford completing her Mphil and Dphil and teaching undergraduate economics. She returned to the ANU in 2003, and has since published research on a wide range of Chinese development issues relating to industrial agglomeration and regional policy; demographic change and economic growth; rural-urban inequalities in education, urban household consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, ‘green’ productivity growth, and ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’.

After the Seminar
To allow for informal discussion, the seminar will be followed by a dinner with the guest speaker at 6:15pm. The location of the restaurant will be announced at the seminar. All are welcome, though those who attend will need to pay for their own food and drinks. As reservations must be made at the restaurant, please RSVP by noon of the day before the seminar to

The China Seminar Series is sponsored by the China Institute, with the Australian Centre on China in the World and the College of Asia & the Pacific.