China is experiencing rapid progress in industrialization and urbanization. Characteristic towns (Tese Xiaozhen) are one of the important drivers for China's urbanization, industrialization and agricultural modernization in the 21st century. Each of the towns has its own characteristics. At present, however, it is unclear for them about (i) what characteristics should be promoted, (ii) how urban land should be planned and (iii) which industry should be focused on. The public infrastructure and services in towns are usually under-developed, compared to cities. This paper first explores the designation of a brand-new type of new towns in China, i.e. “characteristic towns”, to meet the need of the current urbanization in China. The paper focuses on the principles of “agglomeration” and “livability”, in socioeconomic and cultural contexts. This is exemplified by a case study of Zhejiang's version of characteristic towns. The findings suggest that the success of cultivation of towns is closely associated with agglomeration and livability. In the short term, identifying characteristics is the core element in the development. For the longer term, a comprehensive integration of industrial policy and land use policy is needed to ensure continuous capital investment and revenue generation.
Habitat International – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 2018
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