China: What About the Urban Revolution? Rapid Transformations in Chinese Planning and Its Links with a Slowly Emerging European Planning Theory

Shuhai Zhang*, Gert De Roo, Bin Lu

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    This new global financial crisis has required us to recognize how closely and deeply different regions and countries around the world are connected and how they interact with each other. In this interconnected context, planning theory and experiences also become fluid rather than being confined within certain boundaries. This paper explores the links between Chinese planning and European (or "Western"-oriented) spatial planning by critically analysing the development of Chinese planning. In China, modern European planning theories have been under discussion and partly in practice for years. Indeed, they have been playing an important role over the past 30 years in, for example, urban growth management, land-use regulation and environmental protection, and also in helping achieve sustainable development. However, the evolution of Chinese planning, now in a highly dynamic phase, has distinguished itself from that of European planning by adopting a highly rational, coordinated and top-down approach. This paper argues that there are several reasons for this. However, beyond this mere observation, there are a wide range of possibilities to be considered and reflected on with respect to these two different trajectories of planning development, which could enhance planning theory and practice. In other words, there are lessons to be learnt in comparing contemporary Chinese and European planning.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1997-2011
    Number of pages15
    JournalEuropean Planning Studies
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • CITY
    • POLICY

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