The governance of spatial-economic restructuring in contemporary China: the case of textile clusters

The Chinese textiles and clothes industry has been spearheading economic reforms since the late 1970s. Meanwhile, rising domestic wages and increasing global competition have triggered massive upgrading and the modernization of the country’s textile hubs. The main challenge has been to master the shift from “made in China” to “designed in China.” With these shifts in mind, this paper offers a comparative case-study of the spatial-econo-mic restructuring of two of China’s most prominent textile clusters, Shaoxing’s China Textile City and Guangzhou’s Zhongda Textile District. From a theoretical perspective, the paper is guided and structured by an analytical gover-nance framework. The empirical research reveals specific upgrading strategies due to distinct stakeholder groups. In general, they involve the demolition of small-scale production facilities, the spatial expansion and densification of wholesale markets, the promotion of creative industries as well as institutional and political innovations. Accor-ding to the governance approach of Pierre (1999), this indicates a “pro-growth” governance mode in both cases. However, according to the governance approach of DiGaetano/Strom (2003), there are two distinct discernable governance modes: a predominantly “managerial” governance mode in Shaoxing, and a predominantly “corpora-tist” governance mode in Guangzhou. Finally, the authors call for for more in-depth studies into urban governance in contemporary China.

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