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Uneven development and beyond: regional development theory in post-Mao China


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  • C. Cindy Fan
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    Post-Mao China is marked by priorities which unlike Maoist redistributive policies encourage and tolerate uneven regional development. But this approach has been under severe attack, and the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000) which calls for narrowing the regional gap signals that new policies are due. These changes reflect shifts in development philosophies and theories, which are overlooked by many existing studies which emphasize only policies and their outcome. This paper explores the thoughts and ideas that underlie post-Mao regional policy, by reviewing the Chinese literature on regional development from about 1985 to 1995. New applications of socialism and the influence of Western theories have helped to remove the stigma associated with uneven regional development, and have guided post-Mao regional policy which favors the more developed eastern region. But the uneven regional development policy is blamed for the escalation in regional inequality, outflows of resources from poorer inland provinces, and regional conflicts and protectionism. More recent research which advocates renewed attention on and regional diffusion to the inland region, has inspired a new generation of regional development models and has influenced urban and regional policy. Nevertheless, the theory of Chinese regional development continues to be constrained by the obligation to justify official policy, and a lack of attention to firms, enterprises, and the relations between production and space. Copyright Joint Editors and Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1997.

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    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.

    Volume (Year): 21 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 620-639

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:ijurrs:v:21:y:1997:i:4:p:620-639

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    Cited by:
    1. Andersson, Fredrik N.G. & Edgerton, David L. & Opper, Sonja, 2013. "A Matter of Time: Revisiting Growth Convergence in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 239-251.
    2. Derek C. Jones & Cheng Li & Ann L. Owen*, 2003. "Growth and Regional Inequality in China During the Reform Era," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-561, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    3. Bingqin Li, 2006. "Urbanization and social policy in China," Asia-Pacific Development Journal, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), vol. 13(1), pages 1-26, June.
    4. Shasha Lu & Xingliang Guan & Chao He & Jiali Zhang, 2014. "Spatio-Temporal Patterns and Policy Implications of Urban Land Expansion in Metropolitan Areas: A Case Study of Wuhan Urban Agglomeration, Central China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(8), pages 4723-4748, July.
    5. Guangdong Li & Chuanglin Fang, 2014. "Analyzing the multi-mechanism of regional inequality in China," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, Springer, vol. 52(1), pages 155-182, January.
    6. X. B. Zhao & S. P. Tong, 2000. "Unequal Economic Development in China: Spatial Disparities and Regional Policy Reconsideration, 1985-1995," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(6), pages 549-561.
    7. Jr-Tsung Huang & Chun-Chien Kuo & An-Pang Kao, 2003. "The Inequality of Regional Economic Development in China between 1991 and 2001," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(3), pages 273-285.


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