UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Officially and unofficially : processes of land development in Chinese planning Cao, Dawei


In the Chinese planning system, there are two planning processes: a rule-based process and guanxi. In a rule-based process, planning processes are based on legal procedures whereas in guanxi, the planning process is based on "relationships", which can lead to corruption. These dual processes are a controversial aspect of the Chinese planning system. However, the two often opposing processes operate in conjunction. Scholars have debated the fate of guanxi for several years. Some believe that guanxi will disappear gradually with the enhancement of "rule of law" whereas other scholars believe that guanxi will continue to occur. Therefore, investigating whether guanxi practice will remain a part of the Chinese planning system is a meaningful endeavor that may help to decrease corruption in Chinese planning. This thesis argues that guanxi works for two reasons: benefit seeking and abuse of discretionary power. Benefit seeking is a part of human nature that cannot be gotten rid of - as is culture. Therefore controlling the abuse of discretionary power is the main purpose of decreasing the practices of guanxi. Chinese planners are aware of this. However, they are attempting to limit discretionary power by using statutory means. This thesis argues that the focus should be placed on how to supervise the abuse of discretionary power instead of the removal of discretionary power. Simply speaking, this thesis examines opportunities to supervise decision-making processes within the planning system. Within the gradual progress of globalization, Chinese planners must realize the importance of bottom up planning processes in the transparency that it offers. It is the key to supervising the abuse of discretionary powers in the current Chinese context. Many meaningful planning methods, such as design charrette and open house, should be the next step for Chinese planning practices.

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