The ‘nation of cities’ may well be a fitting epithet for China today. There are hundreds of cities in China with more than one million population. The Pearl River delta has become a region of megacities. From Upper Yangtze in the South West to the entire east China, modern cities have sprung up in ways that nearly obliterate the country’s agrarian past. How did China become a predominantly urban society in a span of four decades since the reforms? Literature on China’s urban development focusing on town planning, manufacturing and factory towns, or migration do not explain this urbanization story. The talk would provide a retrospective perspective to understand urban development in contemporary China. The origins of China’s urban development can be traced back to imperial era country capitals, river basin cities, coastal towns and the traditional walled cities. Besides, the geographical concentration of China’s urbanization still largely corresponds to historical urban regions of the east. The great rivers of Huang he, Chang Jiang and Zhu jiang are home to vast urban populations. The speaker would argue that China’s urban development in the post-reform era, is in part a derivative outcome from the cities in history that precedes the imperial period.
About the Speaker
Dr. T. G. Suresh is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. A Ph.D in Chinese Studies, his research interests focus on urbanization and labour processes in China. His current project studies comparative labour histories of China and India. Suresh has published book chapters and journal articles on labour regimes in India and China and China’s urban question. His book reviews have appeared in China Quarterly and China Report. Suresh was a Fulbright- Nehru Visiting Scholar at Cornell University, Ithaca NY ( 2019-2020), Visiting Research Scholar at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore ( 2011), and a recipient of the Asia Fellows Award of the Asian Scholarship Foundation ( 2008). Since 2007, he has lived in and conducted research in Chinese cities including Shanghai, Chengdu, Beijing and Guangzhou.
About the Chair
Dr. Partha Mukhopadhyay, Senior Fellow, joined CPR in 2006. He was previously part of the founding team at the Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC), focusing on private participation in infrastructure. In previous positions, he has been with the Export-Import Bank of India, and with the World Bank in Washington. He has been on the faculty at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Xavier Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur and the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi. He has published extensively, writes frequently for the national media and has also been associated with a number of government committees. Most recently, he was chair of the Working Group on Migration, Government of India and member of the High Level Railway Restructuring Committee, Ministry of Railways and of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. He also serves on the Scientific Advisory Council of LIRNEasia, Colombo. In 2006, he was chosen as one of the inaugural Fellows of the India China Institute, New School, New York and in 2016, he was selected for a Residency at the Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation. His research interests are in urbanisation, infrastructure, and the development paths of India and China.
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