China's architectural aid : Exporting a transformational modernism

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

26 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-147
Journal / PublicationHabitat International
Online published11 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


China's architectural exports to less-developed countries, such as conference halls, government offices, hospitals, institutional headquarters, schools, stadia and theatres, have played a special role in the state's foreign aid and diplomatic strategy. Beginning in the late 1950s, such exported architectural projects were presented by the Chinese Communist Party-led government as gifts to many Asian and African nations in exchange for their ideological, political and diplomatic support. In the post-Mao era, these architectural exports were combined with economic assistance, debt relief and expanding market access, suggesting economic cooperation, political engagement and cultural communication. In this study, a range of typical buildings are woven with their particular historical and socio-political backgrounds into a cohesive narrative. This is the first attempt to examine and theorise the development and transformation of this distinctive phenomenon, using architectural aid as a lens through which to unpack the state's motivation for and the institutions/individuals' commitment to constructing China's global influence. It is argued that the exported architectural projects - profoundly marked by the state's intervention - demonstrated what we term a 'transformational modernism' that was both a product of social transformation in China and a positive engagement with the recipient nations' local conditions.

Research Area(s)

  • Architectural aid, Architectural export, Chinese architecture, Transformational modernism

Citation Format(s)

China's architectural aid: Exporting a transformational modernism. / Ding, Guanghui; Xue, Charlie Q.L.
In: Habitat International, Vol. 47, 06.2015, p. 136-147.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review