The article describes the long history of urbanisation, including developments in four jurisdictions three in Greater China (the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) and Australia. While each has its own history, all now face challenges associated with continuing urbanisation and the growth of very large cities. There are broadly similar economic forces at work, but differences in scale and differences in the growth machines involved and the institutional arrangements within which urban governance operates. The article explains the growing importance internationally of urban governance and the growing interest in the performance of cities. The authors then set out two case studies describing developments in urban governance around Shanghai and around Sydney. In both cases, the scale of big city growth is demanding both horizontal and vertical coordination, and processes that facilitate citizens and civil society participation. While the very different institutional arrangements in these jurisdictions have led to different urban governance arrangements, there are common challenges that have led to some common governance developments such as having a lead government with citywide and comprehensive public service responsibilities, and also having the national government play an increasingly active role in support.