The Bartlett School of Planning


Yixiang Sun

Research subject

Thesis title: Local Politics of China’s Flagship Culture-led Redevelopment

Primary supervisor: Professor Mike Raco
Secondary supervisor: Professor Nick Phelps
Start Date: January 2012
Projected Completion Date: January 2016

Since the 2000s, culture has been giving an increasingly important role in reshaping Chinese urban spaces and social relations. With the setting up of new government institutions at local level and the involvement of actors from private sectors and communities in flagship culture-led redevelopment process, challenges to urban power dynamics have been posed.

Existing theories of the political structure in delivering culture-led projects are commonly built on a Western-centrism and generated from the post-War experience of countries in the Global North, while their adaptability and variation in the Global South are insufficiently represented. It still remains unclear about the transformation of local power dynamics and the participation of local actors in creating new cultural spaces in China’s less international cities.

It is in this context that my research investigates the implementation of entrepreneurial policies in a culture-led flagship redevelopment project at local level in one of China’s inland cities—the city of Xi’an. Analysing with the concept of urban entrepreneurialism, it explores the power relationship between government authorities, urban elites, private sectors and local communities in delivering urban redevelopment projects with cultural elements.