Critical perspectives for examining urbanization and sustainability in China

UGEC Viewpoints

Peilei Fan
Michigan State University, USA

The rapid urbanization of China is an event unparalleled in human history.  Fueled by a near-continuous rural-to-urban migration, the country’s urban population has leaped from a mere 18% in 1978 to 54% in 2013.  The effects of this process are evident in a variety of ways; for example: satellite images of the Earth at night have revealed the intense increase in the illumination of China, indicating the fervent expansion of urban built-up areas.  Traveling through the country exposes one to the uninterrupted urban/suburban landscapes of the many urban agglomeration clusters, such as the Yangtze River Delta (Shanghai-Nanjing-Hangzhou), the Pearl River Delta (Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong), and the Bohai Sea Region (Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei). Remote sensing images reveal the alarming rate at which agricultural land is being subsumed by this wave of growth.

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