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On the shifting spatial logics of socioeconomic regulation in post-1949 China

Lim, Kean Fan


Kean Fan Lim


This paper argues that new rounds of socioeconomic reforms in post-1949 China, each with their distinct geographical expressions, constitute a complex palimpsest rather than a straightforward process of historical succession. Drawing on a review of extensive empirical evidence, the paper complicates two dichotomous portrayals of socioeconomic ‘transition’ in China, namely centralization and egalitarianism (the Mao era) and decentralization and uneven development (the post- Mao era). It demonstrates these binaries cannot adequately explain the post-Mao economic 'miracle' when decentralized governance and uneven development also characterized the Mao era. The paper concludes that decentralized governance and uneven development are not antithetical to the quest for perpetual CPC rule; just as the Mao administration strategically blended centralizing mechanisms with instituted uneven development to consolidate its power, the post-Mao regimes are repurposing Mao-era regulatory techniques to achieve the same objective.


Lim, K. F. (in press). On the shifting spatial logics of socioeconomic regulation in post-1949 China. Territory, Politics, Governance, 5(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 12, 2015
Online Publication Date Jan 12, 2016
Deposit Date Nov 12, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jan 12, 2016
Journal Territory, Politics, Governance
Print ISSN 2162-2671
Electronic ISSN 2162-268X
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 1
Keywords China; Regulation; Socioeconomic transition; Uneven development; Decentralization; Centralization
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in Territory, Politics, Governance 2016


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