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Cities and Governance Seminar Series 2023/24

Caught between the borders: small cities and towns

in global city-centred regionalism in China


25 January 2024 (Thursday) | 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Lingnan University, Hong Kong|Zoom Online


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Over the past twenty years, much attention has been paid to the territorial restructuring and rescaling of the state. In particular, there has been an emphasis on building global city-regions to ensure national economic competitiveness on the global stage. However, secondary cities - smaller cities and towns - within the same city region, which lack the political and economic capacity of their metropolitan counterparts, are often overlooked. Drawing on the various regionalisation strategies and partnership programmes launched by or targeting small cities and towns, the presentation will highlight how small cities and towns within emerging global city regions often struggle to mobilise the border as a resource to find a niche in global city-centred regionalism, where they are also marginalised and trapped by the border to be integrated into city-regions both territorially and relationally. The study argues that future research and policy on city-regionalism should pay more attention to the uneven power dynamics and distributional politics that operate within, and often in tension with, the geopolitical orchestration of global city-regions by nation-states.



Dr. Yi LI is an associate professor at the School of Public Administration/National Research Center for Resettlement (NRCR) of Hohai University, Nanjing, China. Yi’s research interests lie in the formation and governance of city-regions. Her work has covered the three dominant mega city-regions in China, including the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei. She addresses various aspects of Chinese regional governance, from planning, cooperation to infrastructure provision and housing. She has published in Transactions in Planning and Urban Research, Territory, Politics and Governance, Political Geography, Regional Studies, Progress in Planning and so on.



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