Reassembling the state in urban China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-20
Journal / PublicationAsia Pacific Viewpoint
Issue number1
Online published2 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


Neoliberalism has become dominant in both thought and practice throughout much of the world since the early 1970s. In China, neoliberal ideas are growing fast, even as it festers and stagnates in capitalist economies. To capture this process, many scholars have extensively studied market politics in China, demonstrating how state functions are rearticulated downwards and outwards to allow local discretion and market formation. The result is a burly wave of urban entrepreneurialism, which becomes a key municipal strategy to enhance place-specific, socio-economic assets. However, such arguments neglect a counter-trend in which the state has deterritorialised and recentralised some key functions. This paper draws on two cases in urban land administration and state planning regulation to argue that state functions are being reassembled as a new post-crisis political instrument to reassert the functional importance of top-down regulatory control. Economic decentralization is now counterbalanced by the rise of state strategies to control the articulation of scales through which a more centrally consolidated power can be achieved. Rather than viewing markets as taking over the state and local territorial discretion overshadowing hierarchical administration, the paper emphasises the important role of state and top-down regulation in the current post-crisis context under transition.

Research Area(s)

  • Planning, Recentralisation, Regulation, Scales, The state, Urban China

Citation Format(s)