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Regional Cooperation in the Pan-Pearl River Delta: A Formulaic Aspiration or A New Imagination?

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Economic reform in China since 1978 has led to the rise of urban entrepreneurialism and a powerful force of political fragmentation. There is intensive inter-jurisdiction competition for capital, from both the market and central resources. Building on a debate about the problematic nature and fragmented consequences of the entrepreneurial strategy, this paper argues that regional cooperation constitutes a new policy option for jurisdictions to overcome the negative effects of political fragmentation. It first reviews regional cooperation in China in general to provide a background of contextual changes and policy responses since 1949 and discusses the rationale behind the current proliferating of regional cooperation. It then develops a theoretical interpretation of what is behind the increasing interest in regional cooperation and how such cooperation is impacted by state politics in a transitional economy. It is argued that current regional cooperation projects are mostly unformulaic in nature and thus subject to contextually specific circumstances and political wills of key officials. Rather than serving as an institutional platform for inter-jurisdiction networking, regional cooperation may become a means or institutional fix to open up new venues for capital accumulation. The recent Pan-Pearl River Delta Forum is used to illustrate the formation and growth of a controversial regional cooperation project from a development background of the nature outlined above.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 7, 2008

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    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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