N#4 Shifting focus: Rise of Tanggu and polycentricity

N#4 Shifting focus: Rise of Tanggu and polycentricity

Previous narrative: N#3 Roles of Tianjin under Reform and Opening up

Tianjin as a coastal city has been envisioned to be a strategic location to experiment with R&O policy. Rather than the original city center Heping area, shifting development focus to Binhai Tanggu, the east coast of Tianjin has been advocated with economic, urban planning and political consideration.

During the “Seventh Five-Year Plan” period (1986-1990), Tianjin’s urban plan shows an eastward shift in the layout structure, aiming to rely on technological progress to transform traditional industries, develop new and tertiary industries. [1] 

Since 1949, affected by the Cold War and the planned economic system, the coastal areas including Tianjin basically were not arranged with important projects, [1] foreign trade was also greatly affected, and the port advantage was almost completely undermined. After the implementation of the reform and opening policy, the “Minutes of the National Urban Planning Work Conference” (《全國城市規劃工作會議紀要》) approved by the State Council in 1980 redefined the guidelines and policies for urban construction, namely: “control the scale of large cities, rationally develop medium-sized cities, and actively build small towns.” [1] It is also specified that all development zone areas have to be clearly defined, as it would become an exception in terms of preferential treatment and regulation ( conditions proposed in the Conference highlights on the development of coastal cities 沿海部分城市座谈会纪要》) towards foreign capital among all their counterparts. [2]  An extreme case would be Shenzhen, where the government carved the zone out with iron fencing. However, due to management and consideration of subsequent development space, a certain degree of isolation from the ‘’mother city’’ has become an alternative to meet the requirement. For Tianjin case, Tanggu area was located in a salt-alkali beach about 50 kilometers away from the He Ping area.

The idea of polycentricity in Tianjin started to emerge as the Binhai area became the economic and technological development zone in the Reform and Opening up period. 

Polycentricity literally means the existence of multiple centres in a given territory. Polycentric urban region emerge in china’s urban planning, that integrate neighboring but formerly separate cities to a range of city cluster that is maintaining dependent economies and shared labor source. large scale Infrastructures and construction are shared. Polycentricity , that the urban centre within a city should be of comparable importance.

Industry drives the city to expand outwards in a concentric manner, gradually forming an industry belt, inwardly enclosing the urban fabric. The industrial-based economic construction has become the main driving force for urban development. The continued expansion of the original downtown area would result in urban sprawl, that might result in environmental degradation and multiple negative consequences to the city as another pushing factor to develop a new city centre in Tanggu. While with the strategic location, tanggu has been envisioned as the new centre of the whole binhai area. The shift in the proposition of Bihai-tanggu to become an economic and technological zone and that Tianjin became polycentric was a policy-driven move, rationalised by the urge of rapid buildout of port cities under Deng Xiaoping’s R&O policies. The visions of how Tanggu can aid the process of opening up in terms of economic growth, international connection were mentioned above. And the land use zoning and infrastructural planning follows the upper level’s

Next narrative: N#5 Comparison of old and new town planning



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