Developing and Branding a Polycentric Mega-City: The Case of Shanghai

This book chapter, from the book Branding Chinese mega-cities: Policies, practices and positioning, written by Yuan Ren and Per Olof Berg looks at how Shanghai is trying to become a polycentric city, during and after the 2010 Shanghai Expo. This book looks at how and why Shanghai as a centralized metropolis is attempting to expand out of its traditional downtown core. Studying this book is essential to the research, as it provides us with an understanding of why the Expo is sited at the outskirts of Shanghai and how policies such as the expo homes work in conjunction to this greater planning strategy.

This book chapter starts by looking at current planning strategies in Shanghai, as new satellite towns are being set up around the outer ring expressway of the city. Throughout the last 20 years, Shanghai has been growing and absorbing the many small cities around it. Thus, we see two forces, one that is centralizing the central coordination of the Shanghai municipality, the other being decentralizing, and increasing the influence of the smaller local centres, as Shanghai is becoming a mega city, or urban agglomeration, similar to the Greater Bay Area or the Greater Bohai Area. This is largely due to the new economic opportunities presented as China during China’s industrialisation and its eventual transition to an economy based on service sector and the prospect of better living conditions in the urban areas.

The writer Yuan Ren and Per Olof who are respectively from Fudan University and Stockholm University are researchers of Public Administration and Business backgrounds. They hold a largely neutral view on the topic of urbanization in China, as they are not affiliated with the Chinese government. They do agree that urbanization is necessary for future economic growth, and that the polycentric model does relieve urban congestion and pollution problems that are currently evident in Shanghai. However, they do believe that the polycentric model does have problems as complexities in management, as well as how each portion of the city in the polycentric model needs to work with the general strategy of Shanghai better.

Ren, Yuan, and Per Olof Berg. “Developing and branding a polycentric mega-city: The case of Shanghai.” Branding Chinese mega-cities: Policies, practices and positioning (2014): 21-41.

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