Urban Spectre of Global China

Co-Investigator (Jan 2019 – Apr 2021)

Project title: The Urban Spectre of Global China: Mechanisms, Consequences, and Alternatives for Urban Futures

Funding: British Academy, Tackling the UK’s International Challenges 2018

Project team members: Hyun Bang Shin (PI), Yimin Zhao (Co-I)

The overseas expansion of China’s economic influences has been foregrounded in media reports and policy debates in recent years. The term “Global China” has been widely adopted to depict the geopolitical dimension of this immense flow of capital. However, there is a lack of attention to the urban dimension of Global China, especially regarding its impacts on the (re)imaginings and manifestations of urban futures – within and beyond China. This project examines four large-scale property development projects of Chinese capital to question the ways in which the urban has been reconfigured by China’s global expansion. Drawing on methods of comparative urbanism and multi-sited ethnography, we will conduct interviews and observations in London, Beijing, Foshan and Iskandar Malaysia, aiming to uncover the differentiated modes of speculative and spectacular urban production in the Global China era and generate new insights for inclusive approaches to urban space, nature and modernity.

The key research question is:

How and to what extent does Global China produce the urban in a relational way that reconciles China’s urban transformation with local and geo-political conditions at the destination cities?

The sub-questions are:

  1. How are the geopolitical dynamics being interwoven into the processes and mechanisms of urban space production, shaping, delimiting or augmenting the fluidity of Global China?
  2. How is the Chinese capital “localising” itself in overseas property development projects by adapting to local and historical conditions while at the same time carrying on their “Chinese characteristics”?
  3. Does the China-originating urbanism travel internationally only to limit our visions of inclusive urban future?

Publications and other outputs from this project

Journal articles

Conference presentations

Workshops and conference panels organised

  • SEAC Workshop: The Urban Spectre of Global China, 19 Jun 2019, Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • The Urban Spectre of Global China and Critical Reflections on its Spatiality, RC21 2019, New Delhi

Media features or mentions

  • (2020, 14 Apr) Balancing urbanism and environmentalism. The Star.