The national civilised city
This project on the ‘civilised city’ in China historicises the development of the National Civilised City (Quanguo wenming chengshi 全国文明城市) policy program developed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Party Publicity (Propaganda) Department.
- Professor Carolyn Cartier
In 1997 the Publicity Department established the Central Guidance Committee for Building Spiritual Civilisation. In 2003 the Committee set standards and selection procedures for National Civilised Cities at all levels of government: ‘national civilised cities and districts’, ‘civilised villages and towns’, and ‘civilised work units’, and in 2005 began assessing cities for ‘civilised’ status. Not a government policy or planning program in the conventional sense, the National Civilised City is an evolving policy regime based on CCP thought work. It demonstrates the party’s continuing agenda to guide the socialist ideological development of the urban process in China.
The symbolic signage of the civilized city punctuates the urban landscape with long red banners, emblazoned with outsized Chinese characters, draped across building facades or hung across streets as if celebrating a new building or special event. No matter their style or context of appearance, these repetitive civilising messages are representative indicators of the process of urbanization and the continuities of socialism Chinese style.
The socialist style policy programmatic of the civilized city would seem to be out of sync with the frenzied realization of China’s globalizing condition. But it is this combination of capitalist-style cities with party-state administration of society and space whose conditions the National Civilized City program seeks to model, institutionalize, and govern. – Carolyn Cartier, 2020.
Caption: Shenzhen, 2005 – 争当文明市民, 争创文明城市 - ‘Strive to Be Civilised Citizens, Strive to Create a Civilised City’
- Cartier, C. 2020. ‘China’s New Socialist City: From Red Aesthetics to Standard Urban Governance’ in L. B. Welch and D. Young, eds., Socialist and Post-Socialist Urbanisms, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 207–226.
- Cartier, C. 2018. ‘Magic Cities, Future Dreams – Urban Contradictions’ in J. Golley and L. Javin, eds., The Chinastory Yearbook: Prosperity, Canberra: The ANU Press, 189–205.
- Cartier, C. 2016. ‘Governmentality and the Urban Economy: Consumption, Excess and the “Civilized City” in China’ in E. Jeffreys and D. Bray, eds., New Mentalities of Governance in China, Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 56–75.
- Cartier, C. 2013. ‘Building Civilised Cities’ in G. R. Barmé and J. Goldkorn, eds., China Story Yearbook 2013: Civilising China, Canberra: The Australian National University, 256–285.
- Cartier, C. 2012. ‘Class, Consumption and the Economic Restructuring of Consumer Space’, in M. Chen and D.S.G. Goodman, eds., The Middle Class in China: Identity and Behaviour, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 34–53.
Funded by the Centre for China in the World, Australian National University.