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  • The Pearl River Delta Urban System Plan

The Pearl River Delta Urban System Plan

An Analysis

Mee Kam Ng, Wing-shing Tang

English , 1997/01 HKIAPS, Occasional Paper Series Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK

Tags: China Studies

215 x 140 mm , 51pp ISBN / ISSN : 9789624410716

  • US$4.50

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The Pearl River Delta Urban System Plan: An Analysis This paper argues that before the introduction of reforms in China in 1978, the central state, as a "police state" in the Foucauldian concept of "governmentality," aimed at total administration of the economy and society. As a means to facilitate control, cities were perceived as undifferentiated entities, not to be studied or analysed. In theory, city plans were made and approved according to their nature as defined by state investments and their anticipated population size. The introduction of economic and other reforms after 1978 has made the traditional means of state control over individuals and enterprises difficult, if not impossible. Chaotic land use patterns threatening environmental sustainability are the side-product of the implementation of various reform measures. In addition to accentuating the role of cities in the regulation system, the state is interested in employing urban system planning to understand and control urban spatial development. This paper then uses the Pearl River Delta Urban System Plan (PRDUSP) to elucidate the argument. To tackle the lack of incentives among local authorities to cooperate in regional planning and development and the problem of sustainability of the existing growth-biased development, the PRDUSP lays out a development strategy which divides the PRD into inner and outer rings where cities are connected by development and growth axes. More importantly, cities in the region should be organized into hierarchies around three metropolitan areas. The development strategy reflects a much more sophisticated understanding of internal dynamics of cities within the delta. To ensure the implementation of the plan, various measures and policies are also suggested. This is a new development in Chinese urban system planning as plan implementation was not a concern in the traditional centrally planned economy. The use of concepts such as sustainability, carrying capacity, the use of differentiated standards and guidelines, together with suggestions related to legal, fiscal, management, land supply and transport mechanisms and policies suggests that the provincial government is searching for a new way of regional governance. The PRDUSP therefore represents a step to grope for an "appropriate" mix of economics, planning and politics in governing a rapidly growing region within a reforming socialist country.

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