Urban system planning in China: A case study of the Pearl River Delta

Mee Kam Ng*, Wing Shing TANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This paper argues that before 1978, the Chinese state, a "police state" in the Foucauldian concept of governmentality, aimed at total administration of the economy and society. Central investments determined local spatial development. Economic reforms and administrative decentralization after 1978 allowed local authorities to pursue their own development, leading to many planning problems. To regain control over spatial development, the state now employs urban system planning to regulate development in city regions. The Pearl River Delta Urban System Plan (PRDUSP) is a case in point. To overcome myopic regional development and environmental issues, the PRDUSP lays out a development strategy in which cities are organized into hierarchies around three metropolitan areas, have different functions, and are connected by development and growth axes. Various measures and policies also are recommended. All these suggest that the Provincial Government of Guangdong is searching for a new way of regional governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-616
Number of pages26
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1999

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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