Decoding Urban Land Governance: State Reconstruction in Contemporary Chinese Cities

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Marijn Meijering

Authors: X. Jiang, A. Yeh

Publication Year: 2009


Journal: Urban Studies

Volume: 46

Issue: 3

Categories: Resilience


In the rapidly growing literature on urban development in China, many authors have emphasised the salient features of economic decentralisation and the increasingly significant role of the local state. However, such arguments neglect a counter-trend in which the central state has deterritorialised and rehierarchised some key functions. Using the case of land governance, this paper argues that facing the complication of changing urban conditions, there is a resurgence of the state's regulatory power. The decentralisation of economic governance is now counter-balanced by the rise of state strategies to control the articulation of scales through which a more centrally consolidated power can be achieved. The central government still serves as an important level of economic regulation. In this sense, new interpretations of commoditised urban transformation, especially commoditised production of the built environment, should be understood by underscoring the interplay between trends of decentralisation and territorialisation and counter-trends of recentralisation and hierarchisation.


Marijn Meijering