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Soviet Planners in Beijing and Shanghai: A Tale of Two Cities

Sun, June 26, 8:30 to 10:20am, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 102


This paper traces the activities of Soviet planners in Beijing and Shanghai in the 1950s and the debates among Soviet and Chinese planners over the physical development strategies for the two cities. With the ideological rupture of the Sino-Soviet relationship in the late 1950s, intentional deviations from the Soviet model were made in both cities. Comparatively, the Soviet planners left a stronger legacy in Beijing in terms of spatial layout and the grid system. This paper readdresses the elements of the local, seeing city planning as a combination of social, political, economic, and spatial practices that are brought together by a particular set of people and agents, evolving with local conditions. In addition to providing a nuanced understanding of the “Soviet influence” over the Chinese physical planning system, the paper addresses the question of whether China did ever break with a Soviet model of planning and development after the 1950s.