Planning discourses, local state commitment, and the making of a new state space (NSS) for China: Evidence from regional strategic development plans in the Pearl River Delta

Yi Sun, Roger C.K. Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Grounded in the interpretive tradition, this paper applies the theory of New State Space (NSS) to China’s city regionalism. We argue that in the NSS effort in China, planning discourses enable a regulatory framework to be applied at the level of city region. City regionalism corresponds to the conceptualisation of NSS in two dimensions. First, the rise of the city region gives rise to a new territorial form of state administration. Second, the city region is made to be the most appropriate scale encapsulating capital–labour relationship (CLR). This study uses NSS to examine the regional strategic development plans (RSDPs) of the Pearl River Delta Region and presents two primary arguments based on an interpretation of the Outline of the Plan for the Reform and Development of the Pearl River Delta (2008–2020) (OPRDPRD) and the preliminary actions of various levels of government based on it. First, RSDPs serve as effective regulatory tools that not only enable new state administration articulating regulatory responsibility throughout the various levels of governmental hierarchy, but also elaborate the CLR in the interest of regional based industrial development, infrastructure construction, and formulation of social policies. Second, the city region has become a site for political rhetoric and related actions whereby regulatory order is unfolding in order to itself effect an economic restructuring and political reshuffle. Creating a city region is ‘planning ideological’ and solving problems is difficult because of the asymmetric jurisdictional power relations between municipalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3281-3298
Number of pages18
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • capital–labour relationship
  • discourse
  • new state space
  • Pearl River Delta (PRD)
  • planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies

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