Smart city policy in China: Local anchoring of a globalized urban model

By Carine Henriot

In China as elsewhere, the smart city is an urban utopia turned toward technology. This article on smart city policy in China is positioned at the interface between the spatial and strategic approaches of the smart city, and the circulation of this urban model, through the local anchoring of public policies. I demonstrate that the Chinese national policies of the smart city reflect a fragmented will to plan urban development at the national level, in order to orchestrate a rapid modernization of equipment, infrastructure and management of urban services. I also show that the smart demonstrators, introduced in mainland China by the American company, IBM, are experienced, with the rise of Chinese ICT companies and social networks like Tencent, or the leader in global online wholesale trade, Alibaba. Encouraged by the obsession with endogenous technological catch-up and all-out national policies, Chinese municipalities are multiplying smart initiatives, in a context of widespread use of digital technology by Chinese populations in their daily lives.


  • smart city
  • public policy
  • ICT
  • China
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