UPD Research Talk: Finding the middle ground Chinese planning practice in Africa


The talk

The economic boom and advancement of China has been recognized worldwide after over thirty years’ practice of Reform and Opening Up. Urban planning experience (Industrial new town planning in particular) has been invited to guide other developing countries for the first time in history. However, on the one hand, form of government at large sets Chinese spatial planning system apart from the mainstream practice of the rest of world where there are ongoing debates about the usefulness of the ‘East Asia model’ to be utilized in sub-Saharan Africa (Mkandawire, 2010; Ohno and Ohno, 2012; Routley, 2014). On the other hand, Chinese spatial planning system itself has suffered with series of problems due to the accustomed planned-economic influence and China’s slow response to the international trend of spatial planning system reform and improvements. As a result, it renders conflicts in the attempts of applying Chinese urban planning experience on other developing foreign land.

This talk attempts to kick off the discussion on the compatibility, legitimacy and usefulness of Chinese spatial planning system to be implemented in other developing countries. Theoretical literature review and comparative analysis of planning systems regulations under both federal system and unitary system will be conducted. A case study of preparation and implementation of the three-tiered plans from federal to local level consulted by a Chinese expert team in the past four years in Ethiopia is also reviewed and analyzed. Lessons and reflections of the long road with many twists and turns of implementing the Chinese spatial plans (though adjusted to the local standards and regulations) in creating an industrial new town in Dire Dawa in Ethiopia will be discussed. Local responses to China’s growing influence in the developing world, Ethiopia in particular, will also try to be captured.


Jing Lu
Department of Urban Planning, Futurepolis Planning & Architecture Design LLC

Ms Lu is an urban planner and researcher. She has seven years of experience in urban and environmental planning practice and research in both United States and China. She is a registered APA and IACP member. She received her Master of Urban and Environmental Planning degree from University of Virginia, United States, with a concentration in environmental planning and management. Since 2013, Ms. Lu started her involvement in industrialization-led urban development planning practice in Asia, Africa, America and the Caribbean in association with Futurepolis. She first served as a key planner and coordinator in Dire Dawa Special Economic Zone Spatial Plan project in Ethiopia and now a senior project manager on a series of city and industrial park planning and research projects with Futurepolis.