Progress in research on Chinese urbanization
This paper is a comprehensive study on the progress in research on Chinese urbanization. On the basis of the concept and connotation of Chinese urbanization defined by Chinese scholars, the paper systematically collects the research results on the issues concerning urbanization in China from the different approaches of demography, geography, city planning, economics and history, reviewing the process of research on Chinese urbanization made both domestically and internationally. In this paper, the domestic studies fall into five periods as follows: the initial period of research on urbanization in China (1978–1983); the period with both domestically constructed and borrowed theories on urbanization (1984–1988); the period of research on leading urbanization factors and localization (1989–1997); the period with the research greatly promoted by the government (1998–2004); and the period featuring flourishing studies on the science of urbanization in China (2005 till today). In contrast, the overseas research on Chinese urbanization can be divided into three periods: the period studying the history of urbanization in China (before the 1970s); the systematic research on Chinese urbanization (1970–1999); and the comprehensive research on Chinese urbanization (2000 till today). The paper focuses on the key results of research on Chinese urbanization, including nine issues as follows: the guidelines and road for urban development in China, the features of Chinese urbanization, the mechanism driving the growth of Chinese urbanization, the process of Chinese urbanization, the spatial patterns of Chinese urbanization, the urbanization in rural areas in China, the comparison of urbanization in China and other countries, and globalization and regional urbanization.Moreover, the paper also summarizes key academic activities and important events concerning Chinese urbanization, including documents, activities, and events of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the State Council, National Development and Reform Commission, the State Ministry of housing and Construction, the State Ministry of Civil Affairs, the State Ministry of Science and Technology, and National Fund on Science, as well as major international cooperation projects and conferences, concluding that the studies of Chinese urbanization have distinct characteristics, that is, foreign scholars have conducted many studies on Chinese urbanization, while the studies made by Chinese scholars in the field mainly feature practicability, and the interaction between Chinese and foreign scholars as well as the application of international practice in China yield satisfactory fruits. However, there are also several problems in the studies of Chinese urbanization, such as the ambiguity in understanding the concept of urbanization, the lack of fundamental statistics, the emphasis on the research of actual phenomena and the neglect of theoretical exploration, the focus on regional urbanization and the inadequate studies on national and global background. China is in the transitional period from planned economy to market-oriented economy, making it hard for the direct introduction and application of the framework of urbanization that emerged in developed capitalist countries.At the same time, the domestic framework of urbanization created under the conditions of previous planned economy is also inapplicable. Therefore, the promotion of Chinese urbanization faces a series of theoretical issues. In comparison with the western developed countries and most developing countries, Chinese urbanization faces more complicated backgrounds and more problems. The theories and framework of urbanization developed in both developed and most developing countries cannot be directly applied in China. So the research purpose in China is to form unique theories on urbanization based on actual conditions and characteristics in this country and the research shall adopt a multiple approach focusing on the impact of the progress of society, economy, population, politics, culture, environment, technology and public policies on Chinese urbanization.
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