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From industrial enclaves to prototypes of the modern Chinese city: Development zones in Guangdong

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  • Christian Wuttke

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Abstract

Southern China’s Pearl River Delta Economic Region has been a role model for China’s transition and is one of the country’s most important economic regions. But its development model, based on abundant cheap labour resources and export-oriented manufacturing, is increasingly threatened—by the ending of the special policy treatment of the region, the shift of national economic development strategies towards catch-up development of China’s underdeveloped hinterland, increasing competition from other regions in China and South-East Asia, and rising labour costs. If the growth rates of the past are to be sustained, new development strategies are needed. New kinds of development zones are at the core of such efforts. Development zones used to be clearly defined and bounded-off industrial monocultures with nothing but factories, often of the same kind of industries. In order to move beyond labour and energy intensive manufacturing and towards an ‘upgraded’ local economy, they are increasingly converted into full-fledged urban areas, and are more and more integrated into the urban space as a whole. As such, they are believed to offer an investment environment more suitable for knowledge-intensive and high-tech industries. Administrative district/development zone hybrids such as the Guangzhou Development District and Shenzhen’s New Special Districts Guangming and Pingshan represent emerging strategies to further integrate economy and society, accommodate to emerging demands, and serve as prototypes for future urban development in China.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Wuttke, 2011. "From industrial enclaves to prototypes of the modern Chinese city: Development zones in Guangdong," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 26(5), pages 363-372, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:loceco:v:26:y:2011:i:5:p:363-372
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