The changing and different patterns of urban redevelopment in China: A study of three inner-city neighborhoods

Zhiming Cheng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


China's urban growth is phenomenal, but some studies tend to see it as a consistent macro process without much turbulence at the micro levels. This article examines inner-city redevelopment in China by analyzing the cases of three types of neighborhoods: a work-unit compound, a historic quarter, and an urban village. It discusses how these projects were implemented, which actors were involved, and who the beneficiaries were. It argues that different patterns of redevelopment were applied in individual redevelopment projects, although all of these projects were property led. The local state's considerations when applying a particular pattern depends on institutional abilities, arrangements, recourses, and aims, as well as the power relations between the state, market, and community. A comparison of processes and outcomes shows that a top-down approach applied through delegated agencies or the immediate authority of the local state tends to implement redevelopment in a coalition with developers instead of considering the benefits for the affected residents and the preservation of the values of historic neighborhoods. In contrast, the bottom-up approach to the redevelopment of urban villages empowers the collective and villagers and enables them to benefit relatively more from the project. The local state has changed its role from an administrator to a facilitator, and has made significant economic concessions to advance the project in the context of significant policy changes in recent years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-450
Number of pages21
JournalCommunity Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


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