The State of Smart Cities in China: The Case of Shenzhen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

China is at the midpoint of its urbanisation—the largest scale in human history. The recent smart city movement is influencing the discourse and practice of China’s urbanisation, with numerous cities claiming to build smart cities and/or adopting some forms of smart city strategies and initiatives. A so-called ‘latecomer’s advantage’ is being exploited to advance their pursuit for a smart city status, not only to catch up with overseas counterparts, but to overtake them and become international leaders. This local-level enthusiasm strikes a chord with the central government’s strategy of building an ‘innovative nation’ to drive its economic transformation towards a knowledge economy. This converging central-local interest is creating a ‘smart city mania’ across the nation, which, however, has not received due attention in the international literature, and thus deserves critical examination and reflection to inform policy debates. To address this gap, this study investigates the state of smart cities in China, based on a case study of Shenzhen, China’s fastest-growing, experimental city. Shenzhen grew from a fishing village into an international metropolis in 40 years, and has now won a nickname of ‘China’s Silicon Valley’ or ‘China’s smartest city’. This study analyses the state of Chinese smart cities and the pursuit for a smart Shenzhen from the perspectives of the smart city as a concept, as an urban development paradigm, and as an urban regime, drawing upon the international smart city literature. It concludes that a technology-centric approach to smart cities in China, as illustrated by the Shenzhen case, have advanced innovation capacity and economic growth through capitalising on a ‘latecomer’s advantage’. However, this ‘latecomer’s advantage’ may translate into a ‘latecomer’s disadvantage’ for this approach’s lack of institutional adaptation, and for its insufficient attention to social and environmental problems covered under the shiny economic boom. This latecomer’s disadvantage is likely to impact the long-term sustainability of Chinese cities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4375
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalEnergies
Volume12
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2019

Fingerprint

Economics
Smart city
Sustainable development
Innovation
History
Silicon

Cite this

@article{4063e8c46e084a258df69c79cc684560,
title = "The State of Smart Cities in China: The Case of Shenzhen",
abstract = "China is at the midpoint of its urbanisation—the largest scale in human history. The recent smart city movement is influencing the discourse and practice of China’s urbanisation, with numerous cities claiming to build smart cities and/or adopting some forms of smart city strategies and initiatives. A so-called ‘latecomer’s advantage’ is being exploited to advance their pursuit for a smart city status, not only to catch up with overseas counterparts, but to overtake them and become international leaders. This local-level enthusiasm strikes a chord with the central government’s strategy of building an ‘innovative nation’ to drive its economic transformation towards a knowledge economy. This converging central-local interest is creating a ‘smart city mania’ across the nation, which, however, has not received due attention in the international literature, and thus deserves critical examination and reflection to inform policy debates. To address this gap, this study investigates the state of smart cities in China, based on a case study of Shenzhen, China’s fastest-growing, experimental city. Shenzhen grew from a fishing village into an international metropolis in 40 years, and has now won a nickname of ‘China’s Silicon Valley’ or ‘China’s smartest city’. This study analyses the state of Chinese smart cities and the pursuit for a smart Shenzhen from the perspectives of the smart city as a concept, as an urban development paradigm, and as an urban regime, drawing upon the international smart city literature. It concludes that a technology-centric approach to smart cities in China, as illustrated by the Shenzhen case, have advanced innovation capacity and economic growth through capitalising on a ‘latecomer’s advantage’. However, this ‘latecomer’s advantage’ may translate into a ‘latecomer’s disadvantage’ for this approach’s lack of institutional adaptation, and for its insufficient attention to social and environmental problems covered under the shiny economic boom. This latecomer’s disadvantage is likely to impact the long-term sustainability of Chinese cities.",
keywords = "smart cities, Shenzhen, Chinese cities, latecomer’s advantage, ustainability",
author = "Richard Hu",
year = "2019",
month = "11",
day = "17",
doi = "10.3390/en12224375",
language = "English",
volume = "12",
pages = "1--18",
journal = "Energies",
issn = "1996-1073",
publisher = "Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)",
number = "22",

}

The State of Smart Cities in China: The Case of Shenzhen. / Hu, Richard.

In: Energies, Vol. 12, No. 22, 4375, 17.11.2019, p. 1-18.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - The State of Smart Cities in China: The Case of Shenzhen

AU - Hu, Richard

PY - 2019/11/17

Y1 - 2019/11/17

N2 - China is at the midpoint of its urbanisation—the largest scale in human history. The recent smart city movement is influencing the discourse and practice of China’s urbanisation, with numerous cities claiming to build smart cities and/or adopting some forms of smart city strategies and initiatives. A so-called ‘latecomer’s advantage’ is being exploited to advance their pursuit for a smart city status, not only to catch up with overseas counterparts, but to overtake them and become international leaders. This local-level enthusiasm strikes a chord with the central government’s strategy of building an ‘innovative nation’ to drive its economic transformation towards a knowledge economy. This converging central-local interest is creating a ‘smart city mania’ across the nation, which, however, has not received due attention in the international literature, and thus deserves critical examination and reflection to inform policy debates. To address this gap, this study investigates the state of smart cities in China, based on a case study of Shenzhen, China’s fastest-growing, experimental city. Shenzhen grew from a fishing village into an international metropolis in 40 years, and has now won a nickname of ‘China’s Silicon Valley’ or ‘China’s smartest city’. This study analyses the state of Chinese smart cities and the pursuit for a smart Shenzhen from the perspectives of the smart city as a concept, as an urban development paradigm, and as an urban regime, drawing upon the international smart city literature. It concludes that a technology-centric approach to smart cities in China, as illustrated by the Shenzhen case, have advanced innovation capacity and economic growth through capitalising on a ‘latecomer’s advantage’. However, this ‘latecomer’s advantage’ may translate into a ‘latecomer’s disadvantage’ for this approach’s lack of institutional adaptation, and for its insufficient attention to social and environmental problems covered under the shiny economic boom. This latecomer’s disadvantage is likely to impact the long-term sustainability of Chinese cities.

AB - China is at the midpoint of its urbanisation—the largest scale in human history. The recent smart city movement is influencing the discourse and practice of China’s urbanisation, with numerous cities claiming to build smart cities and/or adopting some forms of smart city strategies and initiatives. A so-called ‘latecomer’s advantage’ is being exploited to advance their pursuit for a smart city status, not only to catch up with overseas counterparts, but to overtake them and become international leaders. This local-level enthusiasm strikes a chord with the central government’s strategy of building an ‘innovative nation’ to drive its economic transformation towards a knowledge economy. This converging central-local interest is creating a ‘smart city mania’ across the nation, which, however, has not received due attention in the international literature, and thus deserves critical examination and reflection to inform policy debates. To address this gap, this study investigates the state of smart cities in China, based on a case study of Shenzhen, China’s fastest-growing, experimental city. Shenzhen grew from a fishing village into an international metropolis in 40 years, and has now won a nickname of ‘China’s Silicon Valley’ or ‘China’s smartest city’. This study analyses the state of Chinese smart cities and the pursuit for a smart Shenzhen from the perspectives of the smart city as a concept, as an urban development paradigm, and as an urban regime, drawing upon the international smart city literature. It concludes that a technology-centric approach to smart cities in China, as illustrated by the Shenzhen case, have advanced innovation capacity and economic growth through capitalising on a ‘latecomer’s advantage’. However, this ‘latecomer’s advantage’ may translate into a ‘latecomer’s disadvantage’ for this approach’s lack of institutional adaptation, and for its insufficient attention to social and environmental problems covered under the shiny economic boom. This latecomer’s disadvantage is likely to impact the long-term sustainability of Chinese cities.

KW - smart cities

KW - Shenzhen

KW - Chinese cities

KW - latecomer’s advantage

KW - ustainability

U2 - 10.3390/en12224375

DO - 10.3390/en12224375

M3 - Article

VL - 12

SP - 1

EP - 18

JO - Energies

JF - Energies

SN - 1996-1073

IS - 22

M1 - 4375

ER -