Assessing Urban Spatial Growth Patterns in China during Rapid Urbanization

Chengri Ding and Xingshuo Zhao

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The enormous success of the Chinese economy has caused remarkable urban spatial expansion, resulting in new urban forms and reshaped city profiles. This article assesses emerging urban spatial forms that are prevalent and sizable enough to have a substantial impact on transportation, the environment, and urban sustainability. Special economic zones (SEZs), university towns, central business districts (CBDs), and mixed land development in terms of urban agglomeration, transportation, and land use externality are examined. It is concluded that efficient gains would be significant if SEZs are integrated with each other as well as with the city proper, university towns are developed to accommodate no more than a couple of colleges, and CBDs are concentrated with high-value activities. It is further concluded that mixed land use may not be an appropriate policy instrument to promote smart growth in Chinese cities because of the high degree of existing mixed land-use patterns.