The Great Urban Leap? On the Local Political Economy of Rural Urbanisation in China

Elena Meyer-Clement


This paper provides insights into the local political economy of China’s current in situ urbanisation as compared to the 1980s and 1990s, focusing on the role played by county and township governments in shaping urbanisation in their localities. Marked differences were observed in the extent to which local cadres are able to steer the urbanisation process and adapt the relevant policies to local conditions and demands of the population. If leading county and township cadres are able to assert a relatively autonomous position vis-à-vis the superior municipality, a rural urbanisation process that considers both urban and rural interests and integrates local economic initiatives seems to become a potential alternative to the prevailing city-centred urban expansionism.

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