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Rapid urbanization in a transitional economy in China: The case of Hainan Island

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Abstract:

The outcomes and forms of urbanization and modernization in China following the reform and opening of the late 1970s have attracted extensive attention and competing interpretations in scholarly documentation. This paper focuses on Hainan Island, established in 1988 as the biggest special economic zone in China. Since then, considerable inflows of human as well as speculative capital have led to rapid real estate, in particular tourism-related, development. While urban expansion and improvements have been encouraged, the ongoing over-building, unregulated conversion of land use and degradation of the urban environment present serious social and economic problems. This paper summarizes the trajectory, causal factors and outcomes of this urban growth and consequent planning problems that make the island an atypical case in China’s urbanization experience. We argue that the establishment of a practical framework combining socioeconomic planning, land use planning, and the management of both, is crucial to achieve sustainable growth for this transitional economy.

Keywords: Hainan; planning; political economy; tourism development; urbanization

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9493.2007.00288.x

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Faculty of Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: 2007-07-01

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