Since the 1990s China has witnessed an urbanization process with no parallel in history. It is no overestimation to say that the country’s future will be largely shaped by it. To many respects, Chinese urbanization is stretching to the very limit the capacities of the environment to sustain development. On the other hand, it is portrayed as a crucial driver for innovation. This paper aims at shedding light over China’s urbanization potential to bring about transformative change for sustainability. It does so by analyzing the political discourse and official objectives of urbanization. Results show that sustainability has taken roots in Beijing’s approach to urbanization. However, its narrative and objectives remain anchored to the same conventional ideas of incremental development, which to this day has inspired post-reform China’s path to modernization. The potential for transformative change in China’s urbanization appears therefore limited.
China. Urbanization. Sustainability. Political discourse. Policies. Transformative change.