Editor’s Note: Along with the rising of governance theories in the 1990s, the term of “governance” has become a hot word in the studies of social sciences all over the world. Compared with “government,” it implies the trend of restructuring the relationship between the state and the society to deal with the issue of ungovernability, resulting in the replacement of the dominant role of the government by the combinative role of the government and the multiple actors beyond the state system, from both the society and the market. The phenomena of poly-centricity, decentralization, and citizen participation in the decision-making on public affairs are all the presentation of this trend, promoting the development of modern public administration, with emphasis on the concept of “social efficiency” which means the integration of administrative efficiency and social considerations.
In China, the statement of “modernizing the national governance system and capacity” announced by the Central Government in 2013 has expanded the concern on governance from the academic arena to all aspects of its institutional circle, including planning management as an indispensable part of public administration. The academia of urban planning started to pay attention to the concept of urban governance since the turn of the new century, along with the process of marketization and urbanization and under the influences of governance theories, with its focus being gradually expanded from environmental, ecological, and safety issues to social, community, and land resource issues. Although China was often criticized for the absence of a mature civil society and its social organizations seemed to be enjoying embedded autonomy, the marketization process still offered them substantial space for public participation and the Urban-Rural Planning Law enforced in 2008 prescribes public participation a compulsory procedure in the planning process, making them a dynamic force beyond the state system. In the past years, both the policy of New Urbanization issued in 2013 and the planning institution reform initiated in 2018 put forward in succession new requirements for urban governance. The strategic guidance for a quality development which is people-oriented, urban-rural balanced, environment-friendly, resource-efficient, and culture-distinctive has required that urban governance pays more attention to the justice and the equity of multiple stakeholders in terms of space governance, while highlighting the high efficiency of land management, the orderly operation of urban functions, the feasible restoration of ecology, and the basic livability of local residents in terms of physical environment. As a positive response to these requirements, the practice of community planning and urban renovation from the perspective of space governance has been broadly conducted in China, which has in turn enriched the restructuring of the planning system.