Contours and challenges of rural change in transition economies

The case of China

Authored by: Karita Kan

The Routledge Companion to Rural Planning

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138104051
eBook ISBN: 9781315102375
Adobe ISBN:


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China’s transition from state socialism to a market-oriented economy has been accompanied by rapid territorial transformation. The shift from an economic regime centred on production to one prioritising consumption is manifested in the valorisation of cities as new engines of growth. The impact of transition and urbanisation on rural landscapes and livelihoods has been uneven. Observations from the early years of reform show that while rural communities in peri-urban areas have become incorporated into urban planning regimes, with some developing successful rural economies through industrialisation and real estate investment, villages in more remote areas have experienced abandonment and decline with dwindling finances and out-migration of the productive workforce. This chapter examines the contours of rural change in urbanising China by discussing the context, processes and challenges of development and highlighting the recent governance and planning response. The first section places rural transformation in context by outlining the political, fiscal and territorial drivers of urban expansionism. The remaining sections focus on changes and challenges in peri-urban and remote rural areas respectively.

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