Deciphering China's urbanization : an approach to resolving urban issues of city size and land-use pattern

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Deciphering China's urbanization : an approach to resolving urban issues of city size and land-use pattern


Author: Lang, Wei
Title: Deciphering China's urbanization : an approach to resolving urban issues of city size and land-use pattern
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2017
Subject: Urbanization -- China.
City planning -- China.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Building and Real Estate
Pages: xiv, 188 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: China has urbanized at the rate of 55% in 2015 from 20% in 1978, which was the year that marked the start of national economic reform. This substantial change in population and landscape are accompanied by the undesirable consequences of urbanization, thereby necessitating the analysis of the underlying rationales. China's central government presented city development guidelines in the Central Urban Work Conference in December 2015. In the conference, transforming existing urbanization patterns were set as one of China's core development goals. This dissertation aims to apply a quantitative method to decipher China's urbanization issues and develop a policy approach to new urbanization via city size and urban land-use patterns. The objectives of this study are 1) to identify the crucial issues of urbanization in China in terms of urban land-use pattern and city size; 2) to analyze the dynamics of urbanization in China via the lens of city size in quantitative analyses; 3) to understand Chinese urban systems via urban land-use patterns; and 4) to develop a policy approach of planning for Chinese cities to resolve the crucial urbanization issues in the new-type urbanization period. This study applied the power law of scaling to investigate how urban factors are scaling with one another and the type of scaling relation in Chinese cities, as well as to propose a planning policy for the optimal scale of Chinese urban systems. Scaling theory was used as basis to analyze the allometric scaling relation of Chinese cities in linear log-log regression in MATLAB and integrate such analysis with quantile regression (quartile) in R with emphasis on the scaling factor (exponent). This study used population, urban area, transportation network (roads) area, and gross domestic product (GDP) to compare the latitudinal and longitudinal studies. The latitudinal study compared results generated from the National Population Census of China (Census), China Urban Construction Statistical Yearbook (UCSY), and Urban Statistical Yearbook of China (USY) with theoretically predicted values. The longitudinal study compared results generated during the periods 1990-2014 and 2000-2012.
To evaluate urban land-use patterns, this study applied entropy to investigate the degree of urban (sprawl) expansion and mixed land-use among 61 major Chinese cities in 2011. The spatial metric established indicators per item of entropy, including spatial entropy (SE) and dissimilarity index (DI) for different building types (SEResidential, SECommercial, SEPublic, SEMean, DIResidential -- ommercial, DICommercial -- ublic, DIResidential -- ublic, and DIMean). The indicators were used to compare the structural and functional differences via land-use pattern, quantify the spatial characteristics of urbanization, and analyze the effects of urbanization on land use and urban space. Urban land-use maps were constructed and classified in ArcGIS based on a road network survey in 2011 and points of interest data. Residential, commercial, public, undeveloped land use, and other sectors were used to analyze urban land-use patterns in China. Thereafter, the land-use map of each city was converted into images and calculated in a cellular automata (CA) model in Python. The key findings are that Chinese cities follow the universal law of allometric scaling and will constantly evolve toward the theoretical status by self-adjustment. However, the scaling relations are often affected by external forces, such as government intervention. The scaling indicators (exponents) are changing in rhythm with different urbanization stages, whereas Chinese urban systems are at an early stage of this evolution process. Furthermore, the driving force of urbanization is shifting among different tiers of cities based on urbanization stages because strong state-led development policies are adjusted over time. Cities are categorized into three tiers based on administrative hierarchies. In land use pattern analysis, each tier is determined to have different land-use sectors as their primary economic driving force during urbanization. In general, large cities have good mixed land use, whereas small cities have a low degree of expansion. Large cities have developed substantial areas of commercial land, whereas small cities have developed considerable public land because of state-led investments to stimulate the local economy. In addition, the evidence on urban growth patterns reveals that cities are not in the direction of smart growth. "Chinese Zoning," which comprises Regulatory Detailed Planning and Master Planning, has rigorously segregated urban district functions by land-use pattern. By contrast, the existing planning standard systems for indexing urban development and finance system for urban revenues lead to urban expansion that is opposed to intensive development. This study pioneers the quantitative deciphering of Chinese cities with respect to city size and land-use pattern using fine-scaled data and intrinsically structural assessment; such a process is different from urban performance evaluation on policy implementation. To date, mixed land-use and infill development within reasonable city scale are validated through semi-structured interview among the professional and academic spheres, as well as policy makers. These schemes are the most fundamental and direct strategies to facilitate China's rapid urbanization toward sustainable and robust development. Given the focus of developing "inventory planning" (Cun Liang Gui Hua) for the Chinese New-type Urbanization, this policy adapts the principles of smart growth, thereby redirecting urban growth to be substantially optimized and efficient. These goals can be attained by (1) optimizing city scale that is determined by population, urban areas, transportation networks, and GDP via planning control; (2) reducing the expansion of critical land-use sectors via planning codes; and (3) increasing the mixture of critical land-use sectors via planning adjustment. The findings of this study would provide implications for China's future urban planning and development toward the long-term New-type Urbanization because of the country's transformation from increment planning to inventory planning.

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