To unravel the enigma behind China’s ultra-rapid urbanization, the Centre of Urban Studies and Urban Planning (CUSUP) of the University of Hong Kong and the Centre for China Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) of Hong Kong Baptist University joined forces to hold the”International Conference on China Urban Development”on 7 and 8 December 2010. The main venue was at the University of Hong Kong, with the conference dinner on 8 December held at the Hong Kong Baptist University. The Conference also served to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the CUSUP and the 10th Anniversary of the CURS.
Co-chairing the Conference Organizing Committee were Prof. Anthony Yeh of CUSUP and Prof. Li Si-ming of CURS. Other members of the Organizing Committee included Prof. Roger Chan of CUSUP, Prof. Wang Donggen of CURS, Prof. George Lin of the Department of Geography at the University of Hong Kong, and Prof. Shen Jianfa of the Department of Geography and Resource Management at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Exemplifying the spirit of inter-institutional collaboration, Prof. Tsui Lap-chee, Vice Chancellor of HKU, and Prof. Albert Chan, President and Vice Chancellor of HKBU, gave their respective welcome addresses in the opening ceremony. Underscoring the importance of China¡¦s urban development, Mrs. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Secretary for Development of the Hong Kong SAR Government, also delivered her opening address.
Three keynote speeches were delivered at the Conference. Dr. Qiu Baoxing, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the People’s Republic of China, gave the first keynote on “New Trends of Urban Development and Planning in China”. Prof. Zou Deci, Academician, Chinese Academy of Engineering; and Senior Consultant, China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, gave the second keynote address on “An Overview of Urban Development in China”. The third keynote, given by Prof. John Logan, Director of the Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences, Department of Sociology, Brown University, USA, was titled “The Essence of Chinese Urbanism: A Macro-historical Interpretation”.
More than 150 paper presenters and other participants from Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, USA, UK, France, Australia, and many other countries contributed to the Conference’s 25 paper sessions. In addition to the three keynote speakers, attending the Conference included other leading figures in China Urban Studies, such as Prof. Wu Fulong from the United Kingdom; Professors Cui Gonghao, Gu Chaolin, Ning Yuemin and Du Debin from the Mainland; Professors Laurence J. C. Ma, Jack Williams and Cindy C. Fan from the United States; and Prof. Carolyn Cartier from Australia. Of note was the presence of a large number of young researchers, which demonstrated the vitality of China Urban Studies as a field of study.
A total of 78 papers were presented, covering various aspects of China’s urban transformation. The Organizing Committee is currently actively examining the possibility of publishing selected papers from the Conference as theme issues in refereed journals.
Two conference dinners were held. The first one, held at Jumbo Kingdom Restaurant, was hosted by CUSUP. The second dinner, which also served as the Closing Ceremony of the Conference as well as a dinner to celebrate the 10thAnniversary of CURS, was held at Renfrew Seafood Restaurant at Hong Kong Baptist University on 8 December 2010.
The outreach of the Conference stretched far beyond academia. In addition to having leading government officials from the Central People’s Government of China and from the Hong Kong SAR Government delivering keynote speeches and opening addresses, delegates from the Planning Department and the Central Policy Unit of the Hong Kong SAR Government also attended the Conference.
Two post-conference field excursions were held. The CUSUP organized a local one-day tour to visit the Hong Kong Urban Renewal Authority and the Hong Kong Planning and Infrastructure Exhibition Gallery to learn more about urban renewal and the planning process in Hong Kong. The CURS held a two-day fieldtrip to Guangzhou to see how the latter has attempted to reposition itself as a world city. Delegates visited the new Guangzhou Opera House and the Central Axis at the Zhujiang New Town, the Guangzhou Toyota Motor Co. Ltd. and an urban village in Tianhe. In addition, delegates had a ride of the Guangzhou-Wuhan High-speed Railway.