Pre-Organised Special Sessions

To be competed with more special sessions soon...

Prof. G. Petrakos & Prof. J. Chen

Title: Chinese Cities: Urban development, socio-economic transformations, policy challenges and comparisons with the European experience


Prof. George Petrakos, Department of Planning & Regional Development, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece


Prof. Junhua Chen, Central University of Finance and Economics, China


The acceleration of the urbanization process in China during the last 3 decades has been strongly related to its growth performance and has affected positively the lives of millions of people that migrated from the rural to the urban areas. In 2010 about 670 million people (50% of the population) lived in cities and towns, which is a 13% increase from the 2000 figure. The number of cities increased in the period 1980 - 2007 from 223 to 657, while the number of cities with population over one million increased from 15 to 58. China is experiencing and will continue to experience an unprecedented by international standards process of urbanization, as another 300-400 million people are expected to move from rural to urban areas in the next 20-30 years. This means that cities will be expanding rapidly in terms of numbers, size and spatial scale.
This rapid expansion is associated with a number of challenges that need to be addressed. First, the spatial distribution and evolution of cities is highly unbalanced. There is a high concentration of urban population in a small number of very large metropolitan cities (Beijing and Shanghai being the biggest) that dominate the urban hierarchy and tend to increase their attractiveness through a combination of better paying job opportunities, modern infrastructure, quality of education and quality of life. Most of these cities are located in the Eastern part of the country with about 35% of the urban population of China.
Many issues arise from the size, distribution, location and function of the cities. Although larger cities are technology and productivity leaders, their attractiveness is associated with further (and perhaps massive) influx of rural migrants that few of them are prepared to deal with. Higher densities or higher spatial scale, however, are associated with the need for new infrastructure and a stronger environmental footprint. In addition, land and housing costs are increasing due to increased demand and speculation and this affects cost of living, incomes, but also wage and price levels and eventually the international competitiveness of the cities and regions. Traffic congestion and environmental degradation may lead to an overall decline in the quality of life, while lack of affordable housing may lead to intra-urban social and spatial segregation. Maintaining high rates of growth and structural transformation and high levels of urbanization, but at the same time confront spatial imbalances and socio-economic inequality between cities and regions, but also within cities, is one of the most difficult challenges for urban and regional policy. This Special Session intends to discuss in a comparable way the Chinese and the European experience and draw policy related conclusions for urban and regional development. The best papers of the Session will be submitted for publication in a special issue of a high quality international journal.

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