Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Planning Taipei: Nodal Status, Strategic Planning and Mode of Governance

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Planning Taipei: Nodal Status, Strategic Planning and Mode of Governance

Article excerpt

The paper explores the relationships between Taipei's nodal status, strategic planning and mode of governance. A conceptual framework is constructed to illustrate how Taipei's mode of governance sets the context that enables and constrains the city's strategic planning actions and responses for managing globalising forces. The conceptual framework represents a bottom-up approach in contrast to the top-down one prevalent in research on the world-city system. This framework could be used to conduct comparative analyses of other cities.

Taipei has not been a key city in studies of the world/global city, but it deserves description and analysis because of the role it plays in east-Asian regional-city networks in particular and the whole capitalist world system in general. A few studies do exist, but most were either published in Chinese or regarded Taipei as an individual case to be compared with other world cities (Hill and Kim, 2000; Smith, 2004). The studies of C. H. Wang (2003), J. H. Wang (2004), and the contributors to Globalising Taipei (Kwok, 2005) are the few cases published in English that focus specifically on Taipei. The former two characterise Taipei as a secondary world city while the latter focuses on issues of economic and spatial restructuring, state and society realignment, social differentiation, and cultural reorientation. Nevertheless, more work is required to determine Taipei's particularities and contextual settings.

This paper is a case study on Taipei as a secondary world city within the semi periphery. A conceptual framework is constructed to indicate that a world city's nodal status is embedded in a nested politico-economic structure and represents the interaction between a world city's actions and responses, contextual settings and globalising forces. The nested structure consists of three levels mutually structuring one another - the city's strategic planning, its mode of governance (MOG), and the capitalist world system with its world-city hierarchy. The capitalist world system and world-city hierarchy constitute the macro structure that incorporates and positions national or local settings. A world city's MOG influences the contextual settings that enable and constrain its strategic planning. A world city's strategic planning represents the coping actions and reflexive responses of local actors in dealing with the globalising forces. Figure 1 illustrates the conceptual framework.

In the course of this case study, the author consulted published and unpublished studies and conducted several interviews with officials of the Department of Urban Development of the Taipci Municipal Government (TMG) and with senior journalists familiar with Taipei's politico-economic development. Documents analysed include official reports and statistical data provided by the TMG and information from government websites.

The paper is divided into six parts in accordance with the conceptual framework. By drawing on the arguments and findings of various scholars, the second part describes Taipei's nodal status within the hierarchy of the world-city system. The third part discusses Taipei's major strategic planning actions. The fourth part defines the mode of governance in Taipei as a contextual setting enabling and constraining the city's coping actions and reflexive responses. The fifth part explains Taipei's MOG. The conclusion discusses the theoretical and comparative implications.

Taipei's nodal status

Taipei's nodal status within the world-city systein can be observed from two perspectives - macro and micro. From a macro perspective, Taipei appears to be insignificant in the world-city system in terms of its range of attributes and networking capabilities. Taipei was regarded by Friedmann (1986, 72) as a secondary world city located in the semi-peripheral states. Ten years later, Taipei had not progressed to a noteworthy position in the classification framework of spatial articulation proposed by Friedmann (1995, 24), but was categorised as a 'major extended metropolitan region' or an 'island of relative prosperity and economic opportunity' (Friedmann, 1997, 7-9). …

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