Transformation of China's Urban Entrepreneurialism: The Case Study of the City of Kunshan

Shiuh-Shen Chien, National Taiwan University
Fulong Wu, University College London
Model of the Huaqiao Business Zone. Photo: S.-S. Chien.
Download Article (549.19 KB)

This article examines the formation and transformation of urban entrepreneurialism in the context of China’s market transition. Using the case study of Kunshan, which is ranked as one of the hundred “economically strongest county-level jurisdictions” in the country, the authors argue that two phases of urban entrepreneurialism—one from the 1990s until 2005, and another from 2005 onward—can be roughly distinguished. The first phase of urban entrepreneurialism was more market driven and locally initiated in the context of territorial competition. The second phase of urban entrepreneurialism involves greater intervention on the part of the state in the form of urban planning and top-down government coordination and regional collaboration. The evolution of Kunshan’s urban entrepreneurialism is not a result of deregulation or the retreat of the state. Rather, it is a consequence of reregulation by the municipal government with the goal of territorial consolidation.