Regional Planning in China: The Lanzhou-Xining Urban Cluster Plan and Development Outcomes
O'Brien, James David
China’s 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020) emphasized “New-Style Urbanization” as a key goal. The State Council’s “New-Style Urbanization Plan: 2014-2020” addressed unbalanced development, regional spatial inequalities, food security, and “city-sickness.” National development initiatives have been promoted by planners as a tool for resolving the longstanding inequality in development outcomes between the wealthy eastern coastal provinces and the vast interior of the nation. The Lanzhou-Xining Urban Cluster Plan is one among many urban agglomeration policies intended to boost growth in two comparatively underdeveloped provinces in the western region. Development of Gansu province and Qinghai province is conceived of as a cross-provincial, “metropolitan-oriented,” infrastructure-heavy, development program. The efforts to develop the two provinces have led to improved “hard” infrastructure. However, the benefits clearly accrued unevenly within the two provinces, with provincial capitals benefiting the most. The central government campaign approach to urban development in the “peripheral” or “frontier” provinces of Gansu and Qinghai has resulted in inequality in incomes, inequality in access to goods and services, and limited access to various forms of “soft” infrastructure. Rural-urban and intra-provincial disparities continue to persist amongst urban areas in both provinces, and this finding is particularly salient in Gansu.
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