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Understanding city expansion into larger city-regions: the case of the Yangtze River delta

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posted on 24.05.2016, 15:50 by Yifei Chen
Global economic integration and urbanisation are two of the main processes which characterise contemporary globalisation. Urbanisation is so pervasive that urban landscapes now stretch far beyond the traditional city limits such that the city may no longer be the most appropriate unit to reflect how contemporary urban life is organised. Today, city-regions even mega city-regions are considered by some to be the primary spatial scale at which competing political and economic agendas are convened. Moreover, proponents of the new regionalism believe that decentralisation of state power is producing new forms of political economic regulation at supranational and subnational levels which are more appropriate for effective governance. However, it is argued that the geoeconomic logic for city-regionalism is focused too narrowly on the functional economic side of regional development, thereby overlooking how city-regions represent geopolitical constructions both of, and inside, the state. This thesis therefore aims to explore the constitutive role of politics in the construction of mega city-regions. The starting point is to complement North Atlantic accounts of city-regionalism by focusing on the geopolitics of city-regionalism in China. Using the Yangtze River Delta mega city-region as its case study, this thesis stresses that theories of new city-regionalism must increasingly be derived from, rather than applied to, the Chinese case. It is revealed how the unprecedented rate of city expansion, scale of urbanisation, and context of a highly centralised, one-party state, produces a distinctly Chinese city-regionalism that requires a combination of new conceptualisation, alongside refinement and modification of existing theories on mega city-regions.



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment


© Yifei Chen

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.