Policy, Space and Governance: Lessons from Beijing

  • Dongquan Li Department of Urban Planning and Management, School of Public Administration, Renmin University, Beijing


Beijing is China’s capital city with a population of over 22 million. It is known to be well on its way to be a “World City,” – one that has something to do with or concerns people from all over the world. At the same time, Beijing is known as a city that tops the world in traffic congestion and bad PM 2.5. Many plans and efforts have been over the years by the city of Beijing to improve its urban life. Nonetheless, the problems do not seem to disappear. This paper, by tracing the planning efforts made in Beijing and changing policy orientations at the national level, reveals the intricate relationship between policy, planning, and urban governance. The authors argue, in our modern time, planning needs to be more integrated with public policy, public policy needs to be more relevant to that  with Number I Many authors tried to describe Beijing. Few, however, tempted to explain how it has become the way it is from a planner’s perspective. This paper is an effort filling this gap. It traces the trajectory of urban planning and urban evolution in Beijing since 1949, the founding year of the new China. This period of time, although relatively short, has greatly affected the way the city is and offers a great deal for city planners and city governors to ponder.  Through a discussion of the background, planning process, and characteristics of different versions of the city’s Master plans and the relationships between the Plans and their implementation, the authors reveal an incompatibility between urban planning and China’s policy implementation protocol, which is movement based. In order China’s urban planning can have more meaningful significance, new ideas, new strategies, new implementation protocols, and even new institutional arrangements are necessary.


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