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China’s urban growth

6:45pm, Wednesday 6 December 2017, Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3GA

Austin Williams, author of China’s Urban Revolution: Understanding Chinese Eco-Cities, will introduce a discussion of the changing face of modern China.

China’s economy has grown at an astonishing rate since Deng Xiaoping announced the adoption of the market economy in 1978. By one widely used measure, China’s economy is now the largest in the world, having overtaken the US. This is reflected in the growth of China’s cities: by 2025, China will have built 15 new supercities each with 25 million inhabitants. Moreover, there are plans for 250 ‘eco-cities’. Yet the rapid pace of development - hugely ambitious by Western standards - has also raised questions about the misallocation of capital and resources, and rising levels of debt. Can China continue to develop as rapidly as it has in recent years?

What is the role of the party? Does development take place without consultation by government fiat and are there mechanisms to allow criticism? Is the party under Xi Jinping centralising things more to maintain control? Is China’s economic and political model something to aspire to or should the lack of democratic accountability be cause for concern?

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