University of Hull logo

City-regionalism as countervailing geopolitical processes: The evolution and dynamics of Yangtze River Delta region, China

Li, Yi; Jonas, Andrew E.G.


Yi Li

Andrew E.G. Jonas



In many countries, national governments deploy city-regionalism not simply as a domestic policy tool but also as a geopolitical device enabling the internationalization of state territory and economy. Focusing upon the evolution of Yangtze River Delta (YRD) region in China, this paper offers new insights into the close associations between Chinese city-regionalism and the geopolitical orchestration of national development. Rather than conceived as an inevitable outcome of contemporary globalization processes, the development of YRD region is instead examined against the changing geopolitical dynamics and national objectives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1949 to the present day. In the early phase of CCP rule, the development of regional urban centres, such as Shanghai in YRD region, was an instrument of national territorial integration and class unity. Following economic reforms in the 1980s, the formal designation of YRD as a city-region reflected the Chinese state’s aspiration for accelerated economic growth and the internationalization of the domestic economy. Now confronted with widening regional inequalities, the Chinese state has greatly expanded YRD region to incorporate peripheral cities and provinces for the sake of regionally coordinated development. Even as YRD transforms into a global city-region, Shanghai seemingly separates itself functionally and discursively from the rest of the region. In departing from contemporary post-Westphalian or hyper-globalist perspectives on the rise of global city-regions in a seemingly stateless world, the paper provides a new interpretation of Chinese city-regionalism as a case of countervailing geopolitical processes at work within and beyond national state borders.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2019-08
Journal Political Geography
Print ISSN 0962-6298
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 73
Pages 70-81
Keywords Geography, Planning and Development; Sociology and Political Science; History
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: City-regionalism as countervailing geopolitical processes: The evolution and dynamics of Yangtze River Delta region, China; Journal Title: Political Geography; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.