Land-use planning in China: Past, present, and future

Wanxu Chen, Sipei Pan, Xinyue Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Under the framework of ecological civilisation, the formulation of territorial spatial planning (TSP) and improvement of spatial governance systems are of great practical significance. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, land-use planning (LUP) has experienced profound changes, and tremendous research efforts have been made in that field. However, systematic studies on LUP history are scarce. To bridge the existing gap, this study traced back to the emergence of LUP, described its practice stages, and analysed the evolution of its classification system and methods. Further, the three rounds of general LUP practice and the current TSP over the past 40 years of the reform and opening-up have been discussed. The evolution of LUP was found to be closely related to economic development and could be broadly divided into four stages. The development of land-use classification in China has been slow and can be divided into five stages according to the evolution of the land classification system and important historical events. The development of LUP methods can be divided into two stages, before and after 1978. Since the economic reform, China has successively conducted three rounds of general LUP under different institutional and policy backgrounds. Future development should aim to innovate the theories and methods of TSP with Chinese characteristics and promote the study of village planning and the construction of TSP systems to achieve rural revitalisation and ecological civilisation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1527-1552
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Geographical Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • China
  • land-use planning
  • land-use policy
  • sustainable development
  • territorial spatial planning


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