How unique is ‘China Model’: A review of theoretical perspectives on China’s urbanization in Anglophone literature

Fenglong Wang, Yungang Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


As a major aspect of the ‘China Model’, urbanization in China is being heatedly discussed in the Anglophone literature in the last two decades. By considering China’s urbanization as a ‘testing ground’ of ‘western’ theories, these studies are important for the understanding of China’s ongoing urban restructuring and exchanging knowledge with ‘western’ insights. Based on a survey of existing studies, this paper identifies various endogenous and exogenous concepts and explanations of China’s urbanization. It is suggested that China’s urbanization is mainly driven by a combination of political decentralization and neoliberalization with various forms of social stratification and mobility. However, it is argued that the distinctness of the ‘China Model’, which is usually used to support the legitimacy of studies of China’s urbanization, has led to many controversial arguments and diminished the due contributions of Chinese scholars in the knowledge production of China’s urbanization. To consolidate the legitimacy of studies on China’s urbanization and enhance the roles of Chinese scholars, we suggest future studies to pay more attentions to the fundamental theories with looser constraints and ‘true questions’ on Chi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-112
Number of pages15
JournalChinese Geographical Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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