Shanghai swings: The Hongqiao project and competitive urbanism in the Yangtze River Delta

Yanpeng Jiang, Paul Waley, Sara Gonzalez

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    That cities compete against each other is a cliché of the contemporary neoliberal condition, in which so much focus and energy is expended on a zero-sum-game of trying to outshine imagined rivals. In this article, we examine how this type of competition plays itself out in China, and more specifically in and around Shanghai, in the Yangtze River Delta. We argue that the competition here, principally for foreign and domestic inward investment, is intense and multi-scalar. It is fuelled in particular by China's nested territorial administrative structure, leading to a situation that eventually involves all scales, from district to central government. We choose therefore the term competitive urbanism to encapsulate these multi-scalar and multi-directional competitive forces. Lying at the centre of this competitive urbanism in the Yangtze River Delta is the giant new Hongqiao project in west Shanghai, second only in expanse and ambition to Pudong. The Shanghai municipal government has promoted this project partly in response to competitive pressures from other cities in the Yangtze River Delta, and partly to swing the dynamic of growth westward within the city and link it better to its hinterland. In this way, Hongqiao is reinforcing and accelerating the competitive urbanism that characterizes China's most prosperous region.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1928-1947
    JournalEnvironment and Planning A
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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