Toward an Adaptive Local State Capitalism: Revitalizing Cultural Heritage Sites to Stimulate Local Economic Development





Published date: 

六月, 2016


Meng-chi Hsueh
Chun-chih Chang


For most cultural cities located in China’s inner regions, not only deficient public finances but also historic heritage sites hinder the process of urbanization and economic development. How could these cities reverse the circumstantial disadvantages and turn them into exclusive merits that can possibly foster economic development? This paper argues that “adaptive local state capitalism” may be the key to understanding this kind of development process. The local state has constantly transformed and rescaled its space and boundary according to new circumstances, through which an interdependence with enterprises can be cultivated to rehabilitate historic heritage sites and promote urban development simultaneously. Based on field work and first-hand documents regarding the Qujiang (曲江) model in Xi’an, three types of adaptive local state capitalism are demonstrated to solve problems such as capital deficiency, departmentalism, and inefficiency. First of all, for its capabilities of effectively collecting funds and innovatively manipulating cultural heritages as symbolic capital, the Qujiang Team was chosen and granted privileges to implement culturally-rendered development projects in Xi’an. Second, Qujiang’s government-enterprise synergy was initiated and the system of human resources management reformed and adapted to become more market-oriented. Third, fiscal interdependence among the local state, developers, and banks was formulated to enable the materialization of Qujiang’s projects. The new version of local state capitalism is therefore recommended as a means to learn how heritage parks have boomed as well as its correlation with the rapid growth of urbanization. As the rise of “adaptive local state capitalism” indicates, it has no longer been a game of money, but a competition involving intelligence and innovation in the new race of nationwide urbanization and economic growth in contemporary China.