ABSTRACT

China’s urbanisation has accelerated over the last few decades. While 26 per cent of the population lived in cities in 1990, this had increased to 47 per cent in 2010 (UN-Habitat 2010: 254). 636 million people, or almost one in five of the world’s total urban residents (18 per cent), currently live in a Chinese town or city (UN-Habitat 2010: 253). China’s urban transformation has been remarkable, both for the pace at which it has occurred and for the sheer scale of population re-distribution involved. Anyone with an interest in fast-changing contemporary cities, or what cities might be like in the future, would be well advised to understand China’s urban revolution. This chapter draws on observations of Chinese cities over the past 25 years to focus attention on the challenge for China in reconciling economic growth, liveability and sustainability in the largest Chinese cities.