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Sustainable Urbanisation in China : <br/><br/>Historical and Comparative Perspectives, Mega-trends towards 2050

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The future of Chinese cities

An EU team studied the likely trends and issues affecting Chinese urbanisation to 2050. Results included discussion of changes in policies, local economies, expansion, infrastructure, and the evolution of planning.

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China's cities are on average considerably larger than European equivalents, and more numerous. Hence, China offers a warning for Europe about urbanisation problems yet to come. The EU-funded URBACHINA (Sustainable urbanisation in China: Historical and comparative perspectives, mega-trends towards 2050) project studied China's urbanisation trends for the coming 40 years, especially in terms of sustainability. The team employed methods from several disciplines. Historical and comparative perspectives helped discern historical continuity and discontinuity, and also identified similarities and differences with European cities. The project's European-Chinese research network addressed four aspects of urbanisation in China. First, the team analysed institutional foundations and policies for urbanisation. The work examined future patterns of urbanisation, transformation of central-local relations, and the Chinese urban shift towards service industries. A second research theme considered the issues surrounding territorial expansion of Chinese cities. The topic included changing land property law, commercialisation of housing, and evolution of Chinese cities. The team examined rural to urban migrations, including the 'hukou' system that restricts such migrations. Researchers also studied trends in Chinese infrastructure, and services available for urbanisation. In particular, the study examined the likely future of infrastructure in terms of energy, transportation, water and health. The team predicted the effect of such issues on the environment, health and quality of life. Finally, project partners analysed the evolution of Chinese urban planning and the concept of public space. The team studied local governance in Chinese cities, and the emergence of a civil society. The study also considered the absorption of villages into cities. URBACHINA's final report acknowledged the difficulty of assessing the research impact, as the project's conclusions largely duplicated earlier work. Instead, the project fostered stronger EU-Chinese research relations; the resulting recommendations benefit policymakers on both sides.


Urbanisation, China, URBACHINA, sustainable, mega-trends

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