Fiscal and spatial characteristics of metropolitan government and planning in China: Understanding centralization trends in a decentralization context

Publication date: 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


  • Research paper


External to ACUI

Habitat International, Volume 41, January 2014, Pages 77–84. This paper tries to explain one paradox: why does the division of planning power in China's metropolitan cities become more administratively centralized in the context of political decentralization? This paper argues that centralization of planning responsibilities to the consolidated metropolitan city government enables the local government to effectively mobilize land-based financial resources for fast economic development, which is a responsibility coming with the decentralization process and has been a dominating criterion when local government performance is evaluated. The centralization trend reflects an issue-oriented rationale for structuring metropolitan government and planning, which is similar to its western counterpart, but conditioned on China's view of active planning. A case study of the Yongzhou City is included to help understand the economic forces and fiscal motivation that has driven China's metropolitan government and planning reforms, and the spatial development strategies enabled or strengthened by the centralization.