Town Planning Review

Planning Beijing strategically: 'One world, one dream'

Town Planning Review (2006), 77, (3), 257–282.

Abstract

The city of Beijing has increasingly been re-integrated with the world since the 1980s, thereby entering into closer, but more complex relationships with the global system. To understand the implications for urban planning, it is important to appreciate that Beijing is handling these global–local relationships amid delicate 'local' relationships with the Chinese state, in ways that are obviously different from those of the West. The objective of this paper is to throw light on how new global and local forces have influenced planning in Beijing, first by understanding the nature of urban government in Beijing and then by examining master plans for the city. From a Foucauldian perspective, it tries to describe state practices, including urban planning, of the Chinese governmentality. It focuses on the effectiveness of government during this new era, taking into account non-state practices, including those adopted from the outside world. It argues that the state needs to invent new toolkits and conceive urban problems differently to cope with these new forces. The paper illustrates this argument by investigating the formulation of the two master plans for Beijing, the 1954 and 2005 Plans, and documents how the latter has been updated to incorporate these new global and local forces. It concludes that there is no uni-directional interaction between global and local.

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Tang, Wing-Shing