Forty-odd years ago, the Chinese Communist Party found itself on the threshold of nationwide power. That the Party's leaders viewed their new, urban-centred tasks with trepidation was no secret (Mao, 1961, pp. 361-75). They were ill prepared for their new role as arbiters of industrial and commercial complexities in the great cities. They were fearful of dealing with urban class relationships which bore scant resemblance to those which had become familiar, and manageable, in the countryside. And they had in the long years of rural exile given next to no thought to the question of the city as a physical and spatial entity.