abp jin photo


The Urban Agency of Global China: Tales from Four Cities in the UK, Malaysia and China

Hosted by the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre


Dr. Yimin Zhao

Dr. Yimin Zhao

Assistant Professor in Urban Planning and Management, Renmin University of China; SEAC Associate

Dr. Sin Yee Koh

Dr. Sin Yee Koh

Senior Lecturer in Global Studies, Monash University Malaysia; SEAC Associate


Prof. Hyun Bang Shin

Prof. Hyun Bang Shin

Professor of Geography and Urban Studies, LSE; SEAC Director

This two-day online workshop concluded the on-going British Academy project hosted by the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre led by three project investigators located in China, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. The workshop was an opportunity to listen to the project team’s key findings, with further contributions from project collaborators and discussions by renowned discussants.

The British Academy project drew on methods of comparative urbanism and multi-sited case studies, aiming to uncover the differentiated models of urban production in the Global China era and to critically examine the dynamics of urban political economy and contemporary urban living in a rapidly shifting geopolitical setting. Research was carried out in London, Iskandar Malaysia, Beijing and Shunde (Guangdong Province) between January 2019 and January 2022.


Day 1

Presentation of findings by project investigators: Yimin Zhao, Sin Yee Koh, and Hyun Bang Shin

[Presentation 1] “Giving you a five-star home”: Urban imaginaries and the property businesses of Chinese urbanism

[Presentation 2] Materialising global China through multimodal and multiscalar circulations

[Presentation 3] Fast-tracked city unbounded: Speed, Scale, and Risk in China’s overseas investment

Discussants: Frances Brill (Margaret Tyler Research Fellow in Geography, Girton College, Cambridge); Jennifer Robinson (Professor of Human Geography, UCL Geography); Seth Schindler (Senior Lecturer in Urban Development & Transformation, University of Manchester)


Day 2

Panel 1: Urban Geography special issue on Urbanising Dynamics of Global China

A video recording of Panel 1 is available here

This panel showcases four papers that are going to be part of a forthcoming special issue in the Urban Geography journal guest-edited by the project investigators. Contributing authors are to give an overview of their key arguments followed by commentaries from a discussant and Q&As with audience.

1) Importing export zones: processes and impacts of replicating a Chinese model of urbanization in rural south India

Charlotte Goodburn (Lecturer in Chinese Politics and Development, King’s College London)

 2) Continental Metropolitanization: Chongqing and the Urban Origins of China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Nick R. Smith (Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Studies, Barnard College, Columbia University)

 3) Moving the mountain and greening the sea: The micropolitics of speculative green urbanism at Forest City, Iskandar Malaysia

Sin Yee Koh (Senior Lecturer in Global Studies, Monash University Malaysia), Yimin Zhao (Assistant Professor in Urban Planning and Management, Renmin University of China), Hyun Bang Shin (Professor of Geography and Urban Studies, LSE)

Discussant: Tim Bunnell (Professor of Geography, National University of Singapore)


Panel 2: Roundtable on the Urban Agency of Global China

A video recording of Panel 2 is available here

Loretta Lees (Professor of Human Geography, University of Leicester/Incoming Director of the Initiative on Cities, Boston University), Gavin Shatkin (Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University) and Fulong Wu (Bartlett Professor of Planning, University College London) in conversation with Sin Yee Koh, Hyun Bang Shin and Yimin Zhao

What does "global China" mean to critical urban scholarship? To what extent is the concept of "global China" useful or productive for urban studies? How might we study something like "global China"? What are the methodological tools we could use? What are the politics and ethics we need to pay attention to? These are some of the questions the roundtable session is going to engage with, seeing the contributions of key experts in conversation with the project investigators.