ISSUES2012 No.3
Editor’s Note: When talking about the rapid urbanization of China taking place unprecedentedly in the past decades, due attention should be paid to some unique issues full of Chinese characteristics, which include the development of urban villages. Simply speaking, the urban villages refer to the villages in the rural areas at the urban edge which have been urbanized along with the extension of the cities, mostly through land expropriation, yet are still classified as rural area in terms of jurisdiction. The development of urban villages is one of the byproducts of China’s dual system between cities and the countryside. In spite that these villages have already been mostly or completely urbanized, with few activities of agricultural production in terms of economic development, few labors working in the primary sectors in terms of social development, and more similarities with cities in terms of land-use and landscape, they are still out of the urban governance, including urban planning administration, and can still enjoy all the specific policies for rural areas, including the collective-ownership of lands, the land allocation for homestead, and so on. Because of the political advantages as rural area, the good location at the urban edge, and the absence of necessary urban governance, all of which make the cost for development remarkably lower than in the urban areas, the urban villages are gradually developed into the aggregation of informal sectors and floating populations, however with the consequence of the disordered layout of land-use, the low quality of living environment, and the deterioration of public security, etc. Nowadays in most of China’s big cities, the urban villages make an important part of the urban spaces and, in many case, they also make a substantial obstacle for the healthy urban development of the cities. Therefore, under the circumstance of the dual system between cities and the countryside, how to integrate the spatial development of the urban villages into the spatial structure of the cities is an issue for which China’s urban planning has to work out a solution.

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