Chinese urban planning at fifty: An assessment of the planning theory literature

Wing Shing TANG

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


This article reviews the literature on urban planning in China. The literature has traditionally viewed urban planning in terms of changing styles over time. It was found wanting both methodologically and theoretically. Methodologically, it has failed to situate the various styles of governmental practices. Theoretically, the socialist state has been uniformly conceptualized as homogeneous and monolithic. This has led to the adoption of a technorational concept of urban planning, which, in turn, has privileged the instrumental nature of urban planning knowledge. Finally, the literature has conveyed the myth that urban planning is a distinctive profession. In conclusion, the article suggests that all the above problems of the literature can be improved by adopting Foucault's concept of governmentality, which means that urban planning in China must be situated in political rationality and understood as a technology of government.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-366
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Planning Literature
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2000

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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