Remaking Chinese Planning as a Profession: Growing Demand and Challenges
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Since China initiated its pro-market reform in 1978, the way Chinese cities are governed has undergone a profound change. Central to such change is the fundamental revival of urban land as economic assets, because of which making plans for future land use has become an increasingly important government function and therefore the practice of urban planning (chengshi guihua) has begun to expand and take shape as a profession. However, with the expansion and professionalization of Chinese planning, there is also a growing criticism against the way urban planning has been developed into a development- and profit-driven profession. This dissertation thus aims to examine the evolutionary process of Chinese planning, through which the key factors causing such contradictory development are identified: First, since the 1994 tax sharing reform, the government at the local level has been put under intense pressure to increase its reliance on land transfer revenue and pursue land development. Increasingly, the role of urban planning has been limited to serving as a tool to facilitate the process, leaving other concerns largely unaddressed. Second, with the production of urban planning now becoming a marketized activity, not only has the practice of Chinese planners become profit-driven, but more importantly, the increasing market competition has also impelled them to act in conformity with their clients' interests, even in opposition to the interests of the general public. Third, the professional development of Chinese planning, from accreditation to licensing, is mainly under the control of the government. Although Chinese planners are allowed to connect with each other through the two long-existing professional associations - China Association of City Planning and Urban Planning Society of China, neither of them have been shouldered with actual responsibilities in overseeing and regulating the behaviors of their members. Based on the factors identified above, there is an urgent need for Chinese planners to advocate for an effective governing representation, only through which the profession can enforce strict adherence to self-regulation, better harness its increasingly marketized practice, and promote its further growth and professional development.
- Built environment