From Local Government-Led to Collaborative Governance: The Changing Role of Local Governments in Urbanization

  • Hui WangEmail author
  • Shenghua Lu


China has accelerated its urbanization since the 1990s, its urbanization rate leaping from 29.04% in 1995 to 57.4% in 2016. While driving the large-scale migration of rural population to cities, the urbanization has expanded urban entities and urban space. This round of urbanization is a typical local government-led urbanization. As legal subjects of land expropriation and transfer, the local governments levied the land from farmers with low compensation and resettlement costs on the one hand and transferred land use rights to land use developers to obtain extra budgetary income on the other hand. Meanwhile, land has become a key bargaining chip for regional “race-to-bottom” investment attraction as the local governments have deliberately lowered industrial land prices to attract foreign investment, promote local economy, and develop tax bases. It is under this government-led “Land Expropriation—Land Selling” (LELS) Model that China boosted its urbanization and industrialization for more than a decade; therefore, China has become a middle-income country in its urbanization rate, industrial structure, and people’s income. However, two major dimensions of China’s urbanization, “population urbanization” and “space urbanization,” have shown severe contradictions and problems, and they are related to China’s traditional local government-led urbanization model, more or less.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Land and Resource ManagementZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina

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