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URBACHINA Sustainable Urbanisation in China: Historical and Comparative Perspectives

Urbanisation is taking place in China at a fast pace and on a massive scale. Since 1978, when the process of economic reforms and opening to the outside world began, the percentage of the urban population has risen two-and-half times, from 20% to almost 50%, and is expected to reach 70% by 2030. By then the Chinese population would be predominantly urban instead of rural, as it has been through most of its long history. The number of cities in China has multiplied: those with a population of half a million or more has risen from 51 in 1980 to 236 in 2010, and is expected to reach 343 in 2025. Almost all socio-economic aspects of contemporary China are affected by urbanisation.

This project is funded under EU Framework 7. It is comprised of four modules:

1. Institutional foundations and policies for urbanisation

This module covers research on: policies and institutions that shape the economic structure of cities; the administrative structure of towns and cities; and city finances and inter-government fiscal relations.

2. Territorial expansion & accommodating a greater population

The topics for research under this heading include: land law and the acquisition process; population migration and the household registration (hukou) system; housing the urban population; and evolution of towns and cities. This module is headed by Professor Athar Hussain, Director of the LSE Asia Research Centre (ARC).

3. Environment and health infrastructure and services

The topics within this module are: building and maintenance of urban infrastructure; the urban environment – problems and responses; and health care in urban areas, public health and epidemic control. The health component of this module is based at LSE and coordinated by Professor Athar Hussain.

4. Urban development, traditions and modern lifestyles in cities

The research topics under this heading are: processes of urban planning; local-level urban governance and new trends; and comparison with practices and governance in selected EU countries. This module is headed by Stephan Feuchtwang, Professor in the Department of Anthropology and a member of the ARC Management Committee.

The four-year Sustainable Urbanisation in China project (URBACHINA) is funded by the European Union (EU) under its Seventh Framework Programme for Research Support. The project team is multinational and the participant institutions are draw from a number of EU states and from China.

Four cities have been selected as case studies for this research: Shanghai; Chongqing; Kunming; and Huangshan shi.

Participant institutions