The scale of China’s urbanization since modernization began with reform and opening up after the Mao era is unprecedented in human history. It is one of the great earth-changing phenomena of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. China’s urbanization is now entering a critical phase with some 100 million additional urban residents projected by 2020. Understanding and responding to China’s urbanization is of paramount importance to Chinese government officials, policymakers, and urban and regional planners at every level if China is to continue to modernize and create a livable and sustainable urban system. It is critical to developing countries that they learn from China’s experience. As China assumes overwhelming dominance in Asia and a leading role in the global economy, understanding China’s urbanization is of interest to scholars and practitioners throughout Asia and everywhere in the world. The Chinese leadership sees China at a crossroads now—needing a “new style” of human-centered urbanization for a more efficient, equitable, environmentally sensitive and harmonious society. The way in which China urbanizes in the next few decades will have a critical impact on the world economy, global climate change, international relations and a host of other critical issues as well as for the lives of a fifth of the world’s population.
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