Cities in China: Recipes for Economic Development in the Reform Era

By Jae Ho Chung | Go to book overview

Series Editor's preface

It is twenty years since the Communist Party of China committed itself to 'openness and reform'-the central tenet of a transition that has been remarkable not least for its lack of blueprint. One of the changes signalled clearly at the beginning was the commitment to first double and then redouble the aggregate size of the economy of the People's Republic of China by the end of the millennium. Then, and into the early and mid-1980s, there were few academic observers of China who did not regard this as a desirable goal, but equally few who thought it was attainable. On the contrary, many economists in particular pointed out the difficulties in the project and the near-impossibility of its achievement. In the event the target was attained with almost five years to spare, some time in 1995.

The rapid growth of China's economy is a useful starting point for this series, intellectually as well as chronologically. It is not only that China has developed so spectacularly so quickly, nor that in the process its experience has proved some economists to be too cautious. Rather, its importance is to demonstrate the need for explanatory theories of social and economic change to themselves adapt and change as they encompass the processes under way in China, and not to assume that previous assumptions about either China or social change in general are immutable.

The series China in Transition aims to participate in these intellectual developments through its focus on social, political, economic, and culture change in the China of the 1990s and beyond. Its aim is to draw on new, often cross-disciplinary, research from scholars in East Asia, Australasia, North America and Europe, as well as that based in the more traditional disciplines. In the process the series will not only interpret the consequences of reform in China, but will also have some role to play in monitoring and reflecting the changes of the future.

China's spectacular growth rates of the last twenty years are often so lauded that their reception masks not only an equally significant qualitative transformation but also the spatial aspects of the reform process. It is the coastal provinces, first in the South of China and more recently in the East, which have been in the forefront of change, and within those provinces it is the cities which have changed the most. While rural, or at least sub-urban China, has in many ways been in the vanguard of transformation, the cities have been at the centre of

-xi-

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