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postgraduate thesis: Development control in mainland China : legitimation under an authoritarian regime

TitleDevelopment control in mainland China : legitimation under an authoritarian regime
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Tang, BSLi, W
Issue Date2019
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Cai, T. [蔡天成]. (2019). Development control in mainland China : legitimation under an authoritarian regime. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractDevelopment control agencies have increasing influence in Mainland China’s local governance. However, both their supervisors and the governed parties have exerted pressure on them to better justify their exercise of power. The quest for legitimacy basically serves two purposes: first, to foster a sense of obligation to obey among the regulated; second, to rationalize the ruling order within the bureaucracy. Accordingly, this study explores how the development control regime in Mainland China is legitimized; how the contradiction between rigidity and flexibility is dealt with; and how the changing social, economic, and institutional circumstances are accommodated. A legitimacy-based analytical framework is established in this research. Four dimensions of legitimation strategies are identified, namely, nationalization, bureaucratization, efficiency-seeking, and contracting. Based on semi-structured interviews with officials, planners and developers, and archival studies, this study elucidates how these strategies are configured to legitimize the development control regime. A comprehensive analysis is conducted on property rights regime, spatial planning regime and location-specific approval mechanism. The property rights regime in Mainland China is found to be characterized by nationalization. Urban land is constitutionally owned by the state, while the rights to convert rural land to urban construction land are legally monopolized by the state (so- called state monopoly of “primary land market”). This study argues that the nationalized property rights regime lays a legitimate foundation of planning control. Nevertheless, the villagers’ acceptance of the state monopoly has declined, which increasingly threatens the legitimacy of the regime. The agencies in charge are found to legitimize the spatial planning regime via bureaucratization strategies, which include rigid adherence to established rules and technical standards and reliance on the approval of the higher authority. Consequently, the burden of legitimation is undissolved but shifted to the higher authority. Location-specific approval mechanism is legitimized through rule-based operation, enhancement of executive efficiency, and contracting methods. The rule-based operation echoes the bureaucratization of spatial planning regime. Improving efficiency in development control receives support from all the parties because it achieves their common interests. Contracting strategies solicit the consents of the governed parties as a manifestation of their willingness to obey the regulations. However, the validity of the willingness depends on whether the governed parties respect the nationalized property rights. From the perspective of legitimacy, the balance between rigidity and flexibility of development control could be interpreted as the configuration of legitimation strategies (the centralized authority, rule-based operation, and efficiency seeking). The results of Tobit regression show that cities subject to central approval appear to more rigidly adhere to their assigned land quota but it is probably due to the extra quota they got at the very beginning. Spatial error modeling results demonstrate that in Shanghai, the projects under the jurisdiction of district-level agencies obtain their permits faster than the ones under the review of the municipal agency. High-profile developers and developers invested in by local governments are given an edge in the approval. The three cases of urban renewal in Shenzhen demonstrate how the development control agencies adapt their legitimation strategies to the new land development pattern, under which some strategies are debilitated. The case studies reflect that the collection of individual-based consents is burdensome, while additional reliance on established rules likely degenerates to bureaucratic red tape. An alternative method of legitimacy is the use of a planning commission or local legislature, as long as the supervision is efficient and effective. Localization of legitimation is pivotal but thorny. This study contributes to the existing literature in the following aspects. First, its legitimation-based analytical framework supplements the prevailing focus on the legality and economic efficiency of development control institutions. Second, it expands the research on the legitimacy of development control from democratic to authoritarian regimes. Third, it provides a legitimacy-based approach to understand the influence of property rights regime on development control, beyond the conventional interpretations from customs, legal traditions, and economic rationale. Finally, it highlights the cooperation between different levels of governments in the pursuit of legitimate development control in contrast to the dominant narratives focusing on their conflicts.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectLand use - China
Real states development - China
Dept/ProgramUrban Planning and Design
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/279708

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorTang, BS-
dc.contributor.advisorLi, W-
dc.contributor.authorCai, Tiancheng-
dc.contributor.author蔡天成-
dc.date.accessioned2019-12-10T10:04:36Z-
dc.date.available2019-12-10T10:04:36Z-
dc.date.issued2019-
dc.identifier.citationCai, T. [蔡天成]. (2019). Development control in mainland China : legitimation under an authoritarian regime. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/279708-
dc.description.abstractDevelopment control agencies have increasing influence in Mainland China’s local governance. However, both their supervisors and the governed parties have exerted pressure on them to better justify their exercise of power. The quest for legitimacy basically serves two purposes: first, to foster a sense of obligation to obey among the regulated; second, to rationalize the ruling order within the bureaucracy. Accordingly, this study explores how the development control regime in Mainland China is legitimized; how the contradiction between rigidity and flexibility is dealt with; and how the changing social, economic, and institutional circumstances are accommodated. A legitimacy-based analytical framework is established in this research. Four dimensions of legitimation strategies are identified, namely, nationalization, bureaucratization, efficiency-seeking, and contracting. Based on semi-structured interviews with officials, planners and developers, and archival studies, this study elucidates how these strategies are configured to legitimize the development control regime. A comprehensive analysis is conducted on property rights regime, spatial planning regime and location-specific approval mechanism. The property rights regime in Mainland China is found to be characterized by nationalization. Urban land is constitutionally owned by the state, while the rights to convert rural land to urban construction land are legally monopolized by the state (so- called state monopoly of “primary land market”). This study argues that the nationalized property rights regime lays a legitimate foundation of planning control. Nevertheless, the villagers’ acceptance of the state monopoly has declined, which increasingly threatens the legitimacy of the regime. The agencies in charge are found to legitimize the spatial planning regime via bureaucratization strategies, which include rigid adherence to established rules and technical standards and reliance on the approval of the higher authority. Consequently, the burden of legitimation is undissolved but shifted to the higher authority. Location-specific approval mechanism is legitimized through rule-based operation, enhancement of executive efficiency, and contracting methods. The rule-based operation echoes the bureaucratization of spatial planning regime. Improving efficiency in development control receives support from all the parties because it achieves their common interests. Contracting strategies solicit the consents of the governed parties as a manifestation of their willingness to obey the regulations. However, the validity of the willingness depends on whether the governed parties respect the nationalized property rights. From the perspective of legitimacy, the balance between rigidity and flexibility of development control could be interpreted as the configuration of legitimation strategies (the centralized authority, rule-based operation, and efficiency seeking). The results of Tobit regression show that cities subject to central approval appear to more rigidly adhere to their assigned land quota but it is probably due to the extra quota they got at the very beginning. Spatial error modeling results demonstrate that in Shanghai, the projects under the jurisdiction of district-level agencies obtain their permits faster than the ones under the review of the municipal agency. High-profile developers and developers invested in by local governments are given an edge in the approval. The three cases of urban renewal in Shenzhen demonstrate how the development control agencies adapt their legitimation strategies to the new land development pattern, under which some strategies are debilitated. The case studies reflect that the collection of individual-based consents is burdensome, while additional reliance on established rules likely degenerates to bureaucratic red tape. An alternative method of legitimacy is the use of a planning commission or local legislature, as long as the supervision is efficient and effective. Localization of legitimation is pivotal but thorny. This study contributes to the existing literature in the following aspects. First, its legitimation-based analytical framework supplements the prevailing focus on the legality and economic efficiency of development control institutions. Second, it expands the research on the legitimacy of development control from democratic to authoritarian regimes. Third, it provides a legitimacy-based approach to understand the influence of property rights regime on development control, beyond the conventional interpretations from customs, legal traditions, and economic rationale. Finally, it highlights the cooperation between different levels of governments in the pursuit of legitimate development control in contrast to the dominant narratives focusing on their conflicts.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshLand use - China-
dc.subject.lcshReal states development - China-
dc.titleDevelopment control in mainland China : legitimation under an authoritarian regime-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineUrban Planning and Design-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2019-
dc.identifier.mmsid991044168865003414-

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