Politics of Scale, Bargaining Power and Its Spatial Impacts: Planning for Intercity Railways in the Pearl River Delta, China
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Officially Accepted for Publication


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AbstractThe recent proliferation of China’s railway system has posed challenges to the dominance of the national-level railway authority on railway development. Since the 2000s, the planning of new railways has evolved into a politics of scale, in which actors across multiple scales of government have bargained over railway alignment and station siting for their respective interests. This politics is shaped by the uneven bargaining power of the contending state agents over railway planning. Interscalar division of regulatory oversight over strategic resources to railway development enables state agents at some scales to bargain more successfully, whereas variations in administrative and economic standing further differentiate the interscalar bargaining power of municipal governments. Different results of bargaining across scales for each city have produced, as intercity railway planning in the Pearl River Delta illustrates, significant intercity variations in average travel time to stations of the new railways these cities share. Due to the peculiar scalar distribution of costs and benefits of the new railways, municipal governments with greater bargaining power have – challenging traditional wisdom – rather bargained for lower accessibility to intercity railway stations.
Acceptance Date05/07/2019
All Author(s) ListZhang M., Xu J., Chung C. K. L.
Journal nameChina Quarterly
Year2019
ISSN0305-7410
eISSN1468-2648
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
Keywordspolitics of scale, central-local relations, local protectionism, bargaining power, intercity railway, Pearl River Delta

Last updated on 2020-22-09 at 04:00