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Searching for an urban sustainability fix in China: a case study of the Pearl River Delta Greenway Project

Chung, King Lam; (2019) Searching for an urban sustainability fix in China: a case study of the Pearl River Delta Greenway Project. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Although environmental issues have gained considerable socio-political traction in China, their implications on the country’s urban governance remain under-researched. Addressing this lacuna, this thesis examines the development of the nationally acclaimed Pearl River Delta Greenway Project (PRDGP) from 2009 to 2017 to determine how political-economic contingencies have shaped the incorporation of environmental goals into the entrepreneurial agenda of Chinese cities. Based on secondary data analysis, interviews with 55 informants, and participant observation along greenways in five Pearl River Delta (PRD) cities between 2014 and 2017, this thesis argues that the PRDGP has been introduced within the framing of three aspects of China’s urban governance as an urban sustainability fix of the PRD cities. First, the PRDGP stems from the ongoing process of eco-state restructuring to promote China’s urban sustainability. Following the failure of two deep green regional plans, planners proposed the PRDGP as a light green compromise for the Guangdong provincial government to reregulate green space planning in its devolved PRD cities. Second, the PRDGP reflects the complex land politics animating China’s urban governance. While the rise of greenway development lies in its merit in alleviating urban green space shortage without straining municipal land quota, it cannot avoid the intricacies of securing land use rights in rural and protected areas, and engaging real estate developers for ongoing support. Third, the PRDGP reinforces the prevailing city-regional framework of China’s urban development. Directing urbanites to meet their recreational needs with green space in their rural surroundings, the project has triggered a fresh round of urbanisation in the PRD’s countryside in economic, institutional and physical terms. Generalising from these developments, the thesis further proposes that an urban sustainability fix can be analysed as a constellation of discursive, spatial and institutional practices to illuminate the diverse means through which urban economy-environment conflicts are mediated.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Searching for an urban sustainability fix in China: a case study of the Pearl River Delta Greenway Project
Event: UCL
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Planning
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10072288
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