1st Edition

Governing Urban Development in China Critical Urban Studies

By Fulong Wu, Fangzhu Zhang Copyright 2025
    240 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    240 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The book investigates urban development and governance in China and introduces China perspectives to the understanding of governing urban development in the 21st century.

    Building upon a rich and burgeoning literature on China, the book explains major changes in governance, offers a well synthesised account of state-centred governance, and provides in-depth discussions on urban governance, city and regional planning, financing and financialization, urban redevelopment, local economic development and innovation, and environmental governance. The book bridges theoretical concepts in critical urban studies and empirical research on China and thus depicts a fuller picture of changing and variegated urban governance in the contemporary world. The book theorizes Chinese urban governance from the ground up and derives a concept of state entrepreneurialism as a framework for narrating urban governance in China. Following this framework, each chapter begins with a brief introduction to key concepts in urban geography and then depicts the urban development process on the ground in China. Then, the chapters discuss these concepts and explanations because many are derived from a different context, often in Western economies. At the end of each chapter, the phenomenal urban changes are evaluated with their theoretical implications.

    This book offers contextualised insights into critical geographical studies of urban governance and is the first essential complementary reading for both urban scholars and those exploring the geography of China. It will be of interest to students and researchers in Urban Geography, Urban Studies, Urban Planning, Sociology, Political Science and China Studies. The book can also be complementary reading in China Studies, especially in governance and politics.



    1 Governance: theories and perspectives


    2 State entrepreneurialism: historical formation and practices


    2 Planning: state centrality and political mandates


    3 Financialization: the long shadow of the state


    4 Urban redevelopment: beyond the dynamics of the growth machine


    5 Innovation: a hybrid ‘national indigenous’ model


    6 Environment: the socio-ecological fix under ecological civilization






    Fulong Wu is Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London. He received BSc and MSc from Nanjing University, and PhD from the University of Hong Kong. He has taught previously in Southampton and Cardiff University. In 2016, he was conferred the award of Fellow of Academy of Social Sciences in the UK. His research interests include urban development in China and its social and sustainable challenges. He is the author of Planning for Growth: Urban and Regional Planning in China (Routledge, 2015), Creating Chinese Urbanism: Urban Revolution and Governance Change (UCL Press, 2022), and co-editor (with Roger Keil) of After Suburbia: Urbanization in the 21st Century (2022). He is the principal investigator of a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant – Rethinking China’s Urban Governance.

    Fangzhu Zhang is Professor of China Planning and joint coordinator for the China Planning Research Group in the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London (UCL), UK. Her main research interests focus on innovation and governance, environmental planning and eco-city development, urban financialization, and urban village redevelopment in China. She has been involved in several research projects funded by the British Academy, ESRC (UK), and the EU. She is a co-editor of Handbook on China’s Urban Environmental Governance. She is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Transactions in Planning and Urban Research. Currently, she is working on the ERC Advanced Grant research project—Rethinking China’s Urban Governance.