Urban development and urban planning in contemporary China : a case study of Chengdu
China has been confronting an unprecedented urban development ever since the initiation of economic reforms and the 'open door' policy in the 1980s. The urbanization in China has its very own characteristics due to its special political structure and cultural and historical background. Meanwhile, China has faced the transition from a centrally planned economy to a free market economy. Facing the rapid urban growth and socio-economic change, however, the urban planning in China is actually far behind the development pace and needs reforms in both institutional and philosophical aspects. In addition, urban planning should have innovation to guide the unexpected fast urbanization process and to achieve a sustainable development in the new century. In this paper, the urban development and urban planning in contemporary China will be examined by the case study of Chengdu-one of the largest metropolises in Western China. In this research, historical materials were collected to show the historical background of China and Chengdu's changing urban development and urban planning practices from 1949 to 1976. Statistical data and government documents were collected to assess the economic development and demographic transition in Chengdu. In addition, GIS (Geographic Information System) were using in this study for spatial analysis. Land use and urban planning maps were applied in ArcGIS to reveal the detailed urban land use changes and urban growth patterns in Chengdu in the past two decades. Also, some important urban development projects and programs are discussed and illustrated by photos in this study as the results of the urban planning and various government strategies. The purpose of this research is to show the result of the 'Go west' program that launched by the national government in 1999, also, to reveal the great economic and urban development potential of western Chinese cities in the near future. The case study of Chengdu will provide a better understanding of the driving forces behind urbanization in contemporary China and the factors shaping this process. A better understanding of the economic and urban development in western China could improve the government's decision-making process for lessen the differences between eastern and western China in the future.